|One of many lovely covers I'll be sharing--certainly|
ballroom dancing is a scandalous enough topic!
At long last, a new version of my Overwhelming List has gone live. This one took nearly three months to complete because, contrary to expectations, the number of writers I'm coming across seems to have increased of late rather than slowing to a trickle. This update sees a net gain of 157 writers, for a grand total of 1,095, a number that quite astonishes me (and the PDF version is up to 172 pages). Would anyone have expected that in a given 50 year period there could have been well over a thousand British women publishing literary prose? Certainly not I. And the fact that more than 100 are waiting in the wings for the next update makes me wonder just how many there could have been in all! 2,000? 3,000? I doubt that this is a project that can ever be truly "finished," but it's certainly great fun for now.
In addition, while I would have expected that by now I might be into the "dregs"—stray writers who wrote, say, one very bad novel in 1947 and then vanished from view—on the contrary this update contains a variety of quite interesting women. One of them (I won't say which just yet) I am reading at the moment and enjoying immensely, and there are many more I'd like to sink my teeth into. Of course, there may well be some dregs too, but who am I to judge which those might be? One reader's dregs are often another's page-turners, after all.
|By all means read Edith Templeton, even|
though I've had to remove her from the list
There was one traumatic loss to the list this time around, as I had to remove one of my favorite novelists—the wonderful Edith Templeton—who, as I should have realized long before now, was born and spent her formative years in what was then Czechoslovakia. However, you really owe it to yourselves to read her lovely and hilarious early novels, especially her debut, Summer in the Country, which are charming and subtly cynical and completely unique.
And another author disappeared from the list before she ever even appeared on it. I was rather intrigued by Mary O'Connor's 1957 novel Fool's Question. Although religious themes in fiction often put me off, a description of this novel as focusing on the "daily round" of an ordinary Catholic woman caught my eye. O'Connor was initially a bit of a mystery, but the indomitable John Herrington came through with information about her, including that she was, in fact, Canadian. She wrote one additional novel, The Blue Guitar (1966), about which I couldn't find any details. Perhaps a treasure for a future Canadian edition of the Overwhelming List?
By the way, I must give my usual thanks for the many suggestions I've gotten from interested readers. Two in particular made a big difference this time around.
The aforementioned John Herrington has not only suggested numerous writers he's come across in his own researches, but has on many, many occasions been willing to come through for me when I've hit a brick wall in tracking down information on an author. Dozens of entries in this update have benefited from his expert unearthing skills. Thank you, John!
|The rather glamorous Rena Terrington, one|
of Tina's many suggestions
And I also owe a large debt to Tina Brooker, who has provided me with lists of authors from advertisements in old books she comes across, tables of contents from story collections, and even photos of book shops and book sales she visits (one of which I'm going, with her permission, to share here soon—I spent an hour or more studying it and came up with several new names for my list!). Dozens of names on the list come to you courtesy of Tina's efforts (and there's a bunch more coming in the next update). Thank you, Tina!
More generally, thanks to everyone who has commented, emailed, recommended my blog to others, linked to it, or have otherwise been supportive of or taken an interest in my peculiar and obsessive project here. I'm still always excited to see a new comment or email!
By the way, coming soon (finally—I've mentioned it several times in the past few months as a work in progress) is a new "short list," a kind of middlebrow starter kit, as it were, which I've been agonizing over for ages, but which I'm finally ready to share. I hope to have it posted by this weekend. Stay tuned.