Orlando: Women's Writing
Title of Contents

Writers with Entries

New: July 2013

Entries Enhanced

Again this update records exciting new publications: poetry volumes entitled Ice by Gillian Clarke, Environmental Studies by Maureen Duffy, De Chirico's Threads by Carol Rumens, Unsent by Penelope Shuttle, and Astonishment by Anne Stevenson; a book about forests by Sarah Maitland; a "Barbara Vine" novel by Ruth Rendell; Last Friends, the completion of her trilogy, by Jane Gardam; and a new novel, Heartbreak Hotel, by Deborah Moggach. Again it provides fascinating incidental detail: who knew that Eric Hobsbawm and Karl Miller shared a mutual admiration for Harriette Wilson and Alice Munro? Balancing those pleasurable discoveries is the information about several writers' deaths, much regretted. Nina Bawden, Christine Brooke-Rose, Eva Figes, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala have died recently (enabling Orlando for the first time to take note of such matters as Eva Figes's controversially anti-Israeli views). Regrettable for another reason is that Orlando missed the deaths ofShelagh Delaney (2011) and Anna Livia and Maud Sulter (both 2007). We should have done better; but we also note that remarkable authors can leave the world with very little notice taken, especially if they are female.
  • Agatha Christie. The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery presents unpublished letters and other memorabilia from her travels with her first husband on behalf of the Overseas Mission of the British Empire.
  • Shelagh Delaney. Her forgotten short sketch "Then and Now" was rediscovered (along with other 1960s sketches by Harold Pinter and others) in time to form part of The Lost Plays Revue, staged at Nottingham Playhouse to celebrate fifty years in its present home.
  • Harriet Downing. Michael Londry has kindly supplied her missing death and probable birth dates.
  • Sophia King (later Fortnum). Another novel thought lost forever has turned out to be still extant. A so far unique copy of King's The Victim of Friendship has been hiding in the New York Society Library (a private institution dating from 1754).
  • Kathleen Jamiehas issued a book of poems and a book of nature writing since Orlando last caught up with her activity.
  • Hilary Mantel. The row that reverberated to the highest levels when her lecture on royal bodies (from Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII) was read as an attack on the Duchess of Cambridge.
  • Elizabeth Meeke. Until summer 2013 Orlando had an entry for "Mary Meeke", the usual misidentification for a prolific popular novelist who was in fact Elizabeth née Allen, the "fallen" stepsister of Frances and Sarah Harriet Burney. Mary has therefore been rewritten as Elizabeth, and both Burney entries have been updated in the light of Simon Macdonald's discovery of a family relationship which was evidently a grave embarrassment to Frances.
  • Elizabeth Shirley. Caroline Bowden's English Convents in Exile, 2012, provides a first complete printing of her Life of Margaret Clement (as well as excerpts of two works by Lady Lucy Herbert and some letters of Winefred Thimelby).
  • Githa Sowerby. This year, 2013, sees a "mini-revival" of her plays, with two productions and high praise from one of the directors, Jonathan Miller.
  • Sarah Stone: new information from research by Mary E. Fissell. This skilled, ambitious, and eloquent midwife seemed to vanish from history immediately after she moved her practice from Bristol to London, 1736, and published her book, 1737. It is bitter-sweet to learn that she died later that year: at least her disappearance was not the defeat of her career ambitions.
  • Violet Trefusis: the brochure for Tiziana Masucci's ebullient commemoration of Trefusis in Florence in April-May 2013 supplied information about her benefactions at her death to St Mark's Church in Florence and to the poor of the city.