Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Update: 21 more writers!

This list is obviously going to keep me busy for awhile! 

I did finally figure out how to include only the blurbs for the new additions here without jumping through too many Blogger hoops, so if you only want to see what's new, check below.  These have all also been added in to the main list.

One of these writers, Susan Pleydell, was mainly an oversight.  Thanks to Julia for reminding me of her, and also for suggesting Leonora Starr and V. H. Friedlander, the latter of which is mentioned in Nicola Beauman's A Very Great Profession but apparently almost nowhere else.  It's hard to believe that, in this day of finding everything you can imagine (and some things that you can't or wouldn't want to imagine) online, there are still so many writers who are virtually invisible to Google, except for occasional listings of their books at online booksellers.  But perhaps I should be thankful, as the thrill of the chase is obviously part of what I enjoy!

Two more of the new additions, Julia Birley and Elizabeth Sewell, come from Beauman's bio of Elizabeth Taylor.  Sewell is mentioned along with Elizabeth Montagu (whose The Small Corner I plan to write about here in the next couple of weeks) as the two most thoroughly forgotten of formerly acclaimed postwar novelists.  Could anything be more up my alley?!  I don't know how I missed her when I first read the book.  Birley, by the way, is the daughter of Margaret Kennedy, who is already on the list.

Several of the new additions came from browsing contemporary reviews, especially in The Bookman, some issues of which are now available online at  March Cost and Violet Quirk both seemed to have received acclaim for one novel in particular and then drifted into oblivion—in Quirk's case after only one additional publication.  And Ena Limebeer's two satires of provincial life sound like they could be fun, and the fact that her only other published work was a poetry collection from Leonard and Virginia Woolf at Hogarth Press makes her more of a dark horse.

Maisie Grieg sounds a bit like Ursula Bloom or an earlier Elizabeth Cadell, and her Love and Let Me Go earned a pleasant notice in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Meanwhile, apparently Dorita Fairlie Bruce will be known to fans of girls' stories, but she reportedly followed some of her characters into adulthood, and her wartime novels Dimsie Carries On (1941) and Nancy Calls the Tune (1944) have been added to my ever-growing "to read" list.  Could they have some of the same charm of D. E. Stevenson's The Two Mrs. Abbotts?

By the same token, I downloaded J. E. Buckrose's Gay Morning from Google Books and, from a quick glance at the opening, I'm wondering if she could have some of Stevenson's "cozy" charm as well?  Or what about Flora Klickmann's "Flower-Patch" series of humorous memoirs with a gardening component—has anyone read one of those?  And Elizabeth Croly remains shrouded in mystery, but her The Street that Ran Away is described as a fantasy enjoyable to children and adults alike, and seems to have garnered contemporary praise, so I couldn't resist adding her even if I know almost nothing about her.

Finally, Bea Howe came from reading Stuck-in-a-Book's review of her one novel.  I have a feeling I need to spend a day reading his blog "cover to cover" and I might find several other writers I've never heard of.

The others are mostly writers better known for other things but who dabbled at novel-writing.  None are on my short list to read, though Maude Annesley's "flagrant outrages against good taste" in The Wine of Life could be interesting!

Now I've been spending some time researching lesser-known mystery writers, so some of those will likely show up on the next update.

Oh, by the way, I did also reluctantly delete one writer.  It turns out that Mary Borden is actually American, though she lived in England as an adult.  There are worse crimes than being American (said the American blogger), and she sounds quite interesting, but I'm having enough trouble keeping up with the list when it's limited to British writers.  I'm not ready to start including Americans (or even Commonwealth—or do I mean Dominion?—writers, of which there are many really wonderful ones!).  Someday?

MAUDE ANNESLEY (dates unknown)

More research needed; novelist whose works include The Wine of Life (1907), about a divorced woman, which a critic accused of "flagrant outrages against good taste," and Wind Along the Waste (1910), both of which became early silent films.

JULIA BIRLEY (1928-     )

More research needed; daughter of Margaret Kennedy; author of four novels—The Children on the Shore (1958), The Time of the Cuckoo (1960), When You Were There (1963), and A Serpent's Egg (1966).


Author of several series of stories for girls, best known for her nine "Dimsie" books; her series sometimes followed characters into their adult lives, such as in Dimsie Carries on (1941) and Nancy Calls the Tune (1944), both set during World War II.

J. E. BUCKROSE (1868-1931)
(pseudonym of Annie Edith Jameson)

More research needed; intriguing popular novelist whose works include Down Our Street (1911), Gay Morning (1914), War-Time in Our Street (1917), Payment in Kind (1928), and a novel about George Eliot, Silhouette of Mary Ann (1931).

MARCH COST (1897–1973)
(pseudonym of Margaret Mackie Morrison)

More research needed; novelist apparently best known for A Man Called Luke (1933), which received critical acclaim at the time; other works include The Dark Star (1939), Rachel: An Interpretation (1947), and The Hour Awaits (1952).

ELIZABETH CROLY (dates unknown)

More research needed; novelist and children's author, whose works include The Street that Ran Away (1921), A Sailing We Will Go (1922), and Forbidden Revels (1925).


More research needed; suffragette (who served four months in prison for breaking windows), poet and author of at least one novel, Mainspring (1922), mentioned in Nicola Beauman's A Very Great Profession.

BRENDA GIRVIN (1884-1970)

More research needed; playwright and children's author whose works include Cackling Geese (1909), Munition Mary (1918), The Tapestry Adventure (1925), and Five Cousins (1930).

MAISIE GRIEG (dates unknown)
(aka Jennifer Ames)

More research needed; prolific romantic novelist whose works included Pandora Lifts the Lid (1933), Love and Let Me Go (1936), Heartbreak for Two (1941), and Take Your Choice (1946).

MARTIN HARE (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Zoe Girling)

More research needed; novelist who published several intriguing novels in the 1930s, but apparently nothing thereafter; titles include Butler's Gift (1932), Describe a Circle (1933), The Diary of a Pensionnaire (1935), and A Mirror for Skylarks (1936).

BEA HOWE (dates unknown)

A fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group, Howe published one novel, A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee (1927), as well as biographies of Jane Loudon and Mary Eliza Hawels, and a memoir, A Child in Chile (1957).


Children’s author, editor of Girl's Own Paper, and author of the humorous “Flower-Patch” series of memoirs about gardening and daily life, starting with The Flower-Patch Among the Hills (1916); reportedly also wrote novels, but information is sparse.

ENA LIMEBEER (dates unknown)

More research needed; author of two novels of village life, Market Town (1931) and The Dove and the Roebuck (1932), apparently satires of provincialism; also intriguingly published one poetry collection with the Woolves’ Hogarth Press in 1923.

ELIZABETH LOMOND (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Leonora Eyles?)

Author of only one novel, I Have Been Young (1932); critics speculated Lomond was an established novelist’s pseudonym; only one writer on my list fits the novel’s autobiographical elements—see Leonora Eyles.


Critic, historian, and novelist; best known as a major author of Scottish history and criticism, Mackenzie also wrote seven historical novels including Without Conditions (1923), The Quiet Lady (1926), and Cypress in Moonlight (1931).

SUSAN PLEYDELL (1907-1986)
(pseudonym of Isabel Janet Couper Syme Senior)

Author of ten novels, including Summer Term (1959) and A Young Man’s Fancy (1962), both set at a boys’ school and both reprinted by Greyladies; other titles include The Glenvarroch Gathering (1960) and Good Red Herring (1962).

VIOLET QUIRK (dates unknown)

More research needed; novelist who received acclaim for her debut novel Different Gods (1923), but who thereafter published only one additional novel, The Skirts of the Forest (1931), before disappearing from the public eye.


Critic, poet, and novelist, called by Nicola Beauman one of the most neglected of formerly-acclaimed postwar writers; her novels are The Dividing of Time (1951), The Field of Nonsense (1952), The Singular Hope (1955), and Now Bless Thyself (1963).

FREYA STARK (1893?-1993)

Best known for travel books like The Valleys of the Assassins (1932) and A Winter in Arabia (1940), Stark also wrote several significant memoirs, including Traveller's Prelude (1950) and Dust in the Lion’s Paw (1961).

LEONORA STARR (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Leonora Dorothy Rivers Mackesy)

More research needed; author of romantic novels such as Gallant Heart (1941), Fantails (1948), and Family Story (1949), as well as a popular memoir of her time in India, Colonel's Lady (1937).

E[THEL]. S[TEPHANA]. STEVENS (1879-1972)
(aka Ethel Stefana Drower)

Noted anthropologist, travel writer, and novelist best known now for her works on Mandaean history and culture; novels include The Mountain of God (1910), The Long Engagement (1912), and The Losing Game (1926).

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