Thursday, July 25, 2013

British & Irish Women Writers of Fiction 1910-1960 (Introduction)

You can download the entire list in a single PDF. Clicking on the link below will open a Google Docs page displaying the entire list in PDF. To save a copy of the PDF, just click on the little down arrow in the upper left. You can also print the list from the Google Docs page, but be warned that it now weighs in at 544 pages!

This list—the main reason for this blog's creation—was for its first several years of existence known as the "Overwhelming List" to mark the feeling it has often given me as it expands and evolves. In numerous earlier posts on this blog, it is referred to by that name. A while back, though, decided to provide it with a more precise, if more mundane, name.

The list's purpose, for anyone new to my blog, is to provide available information about all British women who published at least one volume of fiction during the years 1910-1960. This includes fiction for older children or young adults, but does not include picture books or story books for very young children. And although the name of this blog specifically references the "middlebrow" as my area of interest, this list has no such parameter. Its goal is to indiscriminately include writers with every variety of brow, writing in any style and on any subject matter, as long as the result can reasonably be described as fiction. For more on why I set this goal, see my main intro (outdated but accurate in terms of my original motives).

As my interest is in portrayals of the life and culture of early 20th century Britain, I have not included writers whose work was solely in the fields of history, philosophy, criticism, poetry, science, or politics—although a good many of the authors included did work in one or more of those areas as well. This means that a forgotten historian who happens to have written a single novel early in her career will be included here, while a much more famous historian who never wrote fiction will not. As the purpose of my blog more generally is to draw attention to writers who have been overlooked or forgotten, this seems appropriate, though it might take some readers aback. And it rather pleases me to note that highbrow book critic Queenie Leavis is nowhere to be found here, while the middlebrow novelists she often scathingly critiqued are well-represented…

Those familiar with previous versions of this list may also note that while the original list included a relatively small number of diarists and memoirists who were of particular interest, those authors have now been removed. Of course, this only applies to authors who only wrote diaries or memoirs; those who wrote fiction as well are still included in the main list.

The list is still growing and evolving, more than a decade after its birth, and as I add and revise, I inevitably make mistakes. Please do let me know of any errors or inaccuracies you find. Please also let me know if you come across an author who fits the list but is not yet included. And, even more importantly, if you are able to fill in any of the many gaps in my knowledge, please contact me. In many cases, I have been able to provide information here that is available nowhere else online, because relatives, descendants, or friends of the authors have generously offered details or because researchers and scholars have shared their findings.

On that note, I have to especially thank researcher John Herrington, whose extraordinary expertise and help over the course of several years has made the list so much more useful and detailed than it would otherwise have been. Many, many, many positive identifications of authors about whom no information is available elsewhere on the internet came directly from John's tireless searching of public records, reference books, and periodicals. I've acknowledged him numerous times within specific entries on the list, but he's helped to flesh out information in hundreds of others.

I'm also making this list available in a downloadable and printable PDF here. Please note, however, that the entire list weighs in at 544 pages, so be careful with that print function unless you have a whole ream of paper queued up!

In addition, I've developed a sort of shorthand for some information on the list. For guidance on the way the list is arranged and formatted, see the Key and Citations here, which also includes full information on some of the sources I cite in multiple entries. (In the PDF version of the list, the Key and Citations appear as appendices at the end.)

With that housekeeping out of the way, I hope you find the list helpful and interesting. Thanks for visiting!


  1. 418 pages!!! better not print out that lot then!

  2. I think I have an author who'd count, though I have had trouble finding out much about her! Dorothy Baker, who wrote The Street (1951), and isn't the same Dorothy Baker as the American novelist. I blogged about that novel a while ago - the best I can find is a suggestion that she might have been something to do with the BBC.

    1. Very intriguing, Simon. I'll have a look at her and see what I and the intrepid John can find out about her. Thanks for mentioning her!


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