Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Update: University novels (and then some)

Not long ago, I mentioned Anna Bogen's new book, Women's University Fiction, 1880–1945, in the context of Ursula Orange's novel Begin Again, since Orange's might well be seen as a kind of sequel to the women's university novel—focusing as it does on what becomes of idealistic, intellectual young women after Oxford.  I still haven't gotten my hands on Bogen's book, but there were so many authors mentioned in its introduction (which you can download here) that were previously unknown to me, I decided it could be the theme of my next update.

Of the 20 new authors listed here, seven of them came from Bogen's book.  Those seven are RUTH M. GOLDRING, RENÉE HAYNES, ROSE MARIE HODGSON, BARBARA SILVER, MARY STURT, GERTRUDE WINIFRED TAYLOR, and MARY WILKES.  And since most of these writers are impossibly obscure and online information for them is sparse if not actually nil, I am eager to see what light Bogen is able to shed on them.

The remaining 13 authors below are a mixed bag.  HELEN DOUGLAS IRVINE, Scottish author of seven novels, sounds promising, as does SYLVA NORMAN, whose first novel was published by Hogarth and whose second received a rather odd review in Forum in 1931: "Cat Without Substance is an extremely clever book, witty, full of surprises. If Miss Norman had been more certain whether she was writing a satire or a Meredithian comedy, and if she had copied less directly and less frequently the introspective manner of Virginia Woolf, it might have been a very good book indeed."  I may have to track down a copy just to see what a comedy with Woolfian introspection might look like…

Elisabeth Kyle

By the way, ELISABETH KYLE was suggested for my list several months ago, but I kept searching for "Elizabeth Kyle" in databases and search engines, until I finally realized that her name is spelled with an S.  Duh.  I have no idea what her novels are like, but I was immediately seduced by some of her book covers.  Ditto RONA RANDALL.  Why do I find rather cheesy, melodramatic paperback covers so endlessly fascinating?

Below are all 20 writers, already added to the main list.  Hopefully you'll find some of interest to you as well.

(aka Julie Mannering)

Primarily known as a biographer (of Mary, Queen of Scots, Richard Sheridan, and Henry Irving, among others) and historian, Bingham also wrote two early novels—The Passionate Poet (1951), about Lord Byron, and Look to the Rose (1953).


More research needed; apparently the author of a single novel, These Were the Brontës (1940), heavily advertised in the early days of the war, which focused on Charlotte's life but also "dwells fully and charmingly … upon life in the Haworth home."

French language edition of Ruth Goldring's Ann's Year

RUTH M[????]. GOLDRING (dates unknown)

More research needed; author of only two novels—Ann's Year (1933), "a story combining school and business life in its period," and Educating Joanna (1935), about a young woman at Oxford, discussed in Anna Bogen's Women's University Fiction, 1880–1945.

(married name Tickell)

Married to novelist Jerrard Tickell; known for her writings on ESP and psychic phenomena, including The Hidden Springs (1972), Haynes wrote three early novels—Neapolitan Ice (1932), about a young girl at Oxford, Immortal John (1932), and The Holy Hunger (1936).

ROSE MARIE HODGSON (dates unknown)

More research needed; poet and author of apparently only one novel, Rosy-Fingered Dawn (1934), described by Anna Bogen as an "experimental university novel"; her poems are published in Patrixbourne: Five Country Poems (1958) and Last Poems (1969).

AUDREY HULME (dates unknown)

More research needed; apparently the author of a single novel, Lawyer's Folly (1959), about the effects of a solicitor's misconduct on six characters.


Scottish writer who started out writing history and went on to publish seven novels in the 1930s and 1940s, including Magdalena (1936), Mirror of a Dead Lady (1940), Angelic Romance (1941), Sweet is the Rose (1944), 77 Willow Road (1945), Torchlight Procession (1946), and Fray Mario (1949).

ELISABETH KYLE (1901-1982)
(pseudonym of Agnes Mary Robertson Dunlop, aka Jan Ralston)

Prolific novelist and children's author from the 1930s to the 1980s; much of her children's fiction made use of her Scottish background; novels for adults include The Begonia Bed (1934), The Pleasure Dome (1943), The Tontine Belle (1951), and The Other Miss Evans (1958).

(née MacNaghten, aka Baroness Aberconway)

Author of only one novel, The Divine Gift (1929), described as a "mystery novel of a woman who makes a startling discovery when she searches the bags of two fellow train travelers"; McLaren also published a collection of poems and what seems to be a children's book illustrated by Rex Whistler.

(aka Christopher [Marie] St. John)

Critic, biographer, playwright, and novelist; daughter of novelist Emma Marshall and friend of Cicely Hamilton, with whom she co-wrote the play How the Vote Was Won (1909); Marshall also wrote two novels, The Crimson Weed (1900) and Hungerheart: The Story of a Soul (1915).

ELUNED MORGAN (1870-1938)

Welsh-language author who wrote four difficult-to-classify works—Dringo'r Andes (Climbing the Andes) (1904), Gwymon y môr (Ocean Seaweed) (1909), Ar dir a môr (On Land and Sea) (1913), and Plant yr haul (Children of the Sun) (1915).

SYLVA NORMAN (1901-????)
(married name Blunden)

Critic (especially on Shelley), biographer, and author of three novels, including Nature Has No Tune (1929), published by the Woolves at Hogarth Press, and Cat Without Substance (1931), about a family's misfortunes, described as both a comedy and as influenced by Woolfish introspection.

Rona Randall

RONA RANDALL (1911-????)
(pseudonym of Rona Shambrook, née Green, aka Virginia Standage)

Prolific author of hospital romance, gothic fiction, and historical romance from the 1940s-1980s; titles include The Moon Returns (1942), The Late Mrs. Lane (1945), Delayed Harvest (1950), Young Sir Galahad (1953), The Cedar Tree (1957), Knight's Keep (1967), and Dragonmede (1974).

CLARE SHERIDAN (1885-1970)
(née Frewen)

Sculptor, memoirist, and travel writer, a cousin of Churchill, whose support for the early Soviet Union brought suspicion that she was a spy; her memoirs of world travels include Russian Portraits (1921), My American Diary (1922), and Arab Interlude (1936).

BARBARA SILVER (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Barbara Sturgis)

Author of only one novel, Our Young Barbarians, or, Letters from Oxford (1935), an epistolary novel discussed in Anna Bogen's Women's University Fiction, 1880–1945; a contemporary review intriguing describes the novel's "faithful chronicling of a fairly ordinary routine."

KATHARINE SIM (1913-????)
(née Thomasset)

Biographer, travel writer and novelist, known for her advanced knowledge of Malaya and extensive travel to other regions, also reflected in some of her fiction; novels include Malacca Boy (1957), The Moon at My Feet (1958), Black Rice (1959), and The Jungle Ends Here (1960).

C[ICELY]. FOX SMITH (1882-1954)

Poet, children's author, and novelist, Smith also compiled a collection of traditional sea shanties and wrote poetry which has often been set to music; titles include Singing Sands (1918), Peregrine in Love (1920), Three Girls in a Boat (1938), and The Ship Aground (1940).

MARY STURT (1896-1994)

Author various works on education and psychology, Sturt also published at least three novels in the 1930s—Swallows in Springtime (1934), Be Gentle to the Young (1937, discussed in Anna Bogen's Women's University Fiction, 1880–1945), and The Hours of the Night (1938).


More research needed; author of two early novels with D. K. Broster—Chantemerle (1911) and The Vision Splendid (1913)—and one later novel of her own, The Pearl (1918), discussed in Anna Bogen's Women's University Fiction, 1880–1945; her other works appear to be plays.

MARY WILKES (dates unknown)

More research needed; author of only one novel (?),The Only Door Out (1945), discussed in Anna Bogen's Women's University Fiction, 1880–1945, but other information about her is very scarce.


  1. Having just discovered your blog, may I just say what a wonderful resource it is - thank you for rescuing these books from obscurity!

    1. Thanks so much, and welcome to the blog. So glad you find it helpful. And I can see from the pic heading your blog that we're kindred spirits--several of my all-time favorites in that photo!

  2. Dang, my computer just lost my long and fascinating comment. What a shame.

    1. Oh, no! I hate when that happens. And I always love your long and fascinating comments, Susan!

  3. You're sweet, Scott.

  4. I've just discovered your blog, with great delight, whilst searching for information on Leadon Hill. I'm even more delighted to find that you not only are passionate about the now-unread women writers of the early/mid 20th century, but have now also begun to discover the world of Girls Own literature, which is my real passion. Apart from dolls houses that is.

    The reason I am commenting on this particular blogpost of yours is that I have just managed to source to ebay a book I have been after for a while - Dangerous by Degrees - university novelists rather than novels. Have you come across it?

    Can you only be followed on bloglovin as opposed to blogger itself? I keep forgetting to check the former.....

    1. Hi, Cestina. So glad you came across my blog and enjoyed it! I am having a lot of fun discovering girls' fiction. Just as with adult fiction at the time, I've been astonished by just how much there was, and how much of it sounds very interesting. Oh, for the ability to make time stop while I catch up on my reading!

      Dangerous by Degrees sounds quite interesting. I may have to nab a copy myself, and please feel free to drop me a line to say how you liked it.

      I'm embarrassed to say I'm not very advanced on options for following blogs. Blogger works with Google+ now and I believe you can follow blogs on Google+, but I know a lot of people aren't fond of it. Otherwise, I know of Feedly and Bloglovin'. They both seem to be popular. Honestly, I couldn't figure out how to add the Feedly button on my blog!


NOTE: The comment function on Blogger is notoriously cranky. If you're having problems, try selecting "Name/URL" or "Anonymous" from the "Comment as" drop-down (be sure to "sign" your comment, though, so I know who dropped by). Some people also find it easier using a browser like Firefox or Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.

But it can still be a pain, and if you can't get any of that to work, please email me at furrowed.middlebrow@gmail.com. I do want to hear from you!