No, that's not me humming a birthday ditty, but the blog itself. (Believe me, you don't want me humming or singing anything!)
It's amazing to think that a full year has elapsed already since I naïvely began to blog, but as my inaugural post was published on March 10, 2013, I guess I am forced to believe it! Time doth flit, as Dorothy Parker put it (and those who know it can silently and inoffensively fill in the rest of the quote)…
|A new self-portrait in my inimitable style (for, let's|
face it, who would want to imitate it?)
As that post explained, I wasn't at all sure at first that anyone else would ever care about my obsession with tracking down little-known British women writers. Without a doubt, the most exciting development of the whole past year has been the gradually increasing number of smart, charming, kindred spirits—i.e. you—who have come across the blog, left thoughtful, intriguing, kind comments, and/or emailed me with generous suggestions, assistance and inspiration. This is never likely to be exactly a blockbuster blog, but there are already more of you out there than I ever imagined there might be when I first started typing words into Blogger! And I should especially thank the members of the D. E. Stevenson discussion list, who were the first people to whom I "came out" as a blogger and were—as always—completely supportive and encouraging.
Little did I know, too, that that innocuous little list which formed my second post was going to become—for better or worse—a central focus of the blog (and of my most of my spare time as well). In fact, the specific focus on British women writers 1910-1960 didn't quite come about until I'd already written a few reviews—with the result, by the way, that buried among my earliest posts there is actually a single review of a novel by a male author. Shocking, eh?
Two of the most exciting events of my first year of blogging came courtesy of Persephone Books. First, my favorite publisher added a link to my blog from the "Our Favorite Blogs" section of their website. Then they quoted me in their latest issue of the Persephone Biannually, which of course I had to post about (in a quite undignified way). I still check their site every now and again just to see the link and get a quick little ego-boost. And getting an email from Nicola Beauman herself gave me quite a bit of a boost as well…
But enough looking back. What does year 2 of Furrowed Middlebrow hold in store?
Well, truth be told, I keep resolving to do fewer actual reviews and more research-oriented posts. I love reviews, mind you, but it just takes such a lot of time and concentration for me to whip my chaotic thoughts into some vaguely logical sequence and keep them from being total gibberish. Whereas the research side of things tends to be kind of blissful meditation by comparison, and everything just tends to fall into place. Plus, it just might be that my ever-expanding database of obscure writers and their forgotten works is the greatest strength of my blog anyway, and I am working on new ways of harnessing the power of a database to give you interesting perspectives on the literary world of the early to mid-20th century.
But somehow I seem to keep finding books that are just so interesting and/or entertaining that I just can't resist babbling on and on about them. So we'll see how my resolution pans out…
At any rate, I am definitely planning to unveil several "short lists" soon—subsets of writers from the Overwhelming List by genre or other characteristics. I've been planning them for months, but they are—slowly—coming together and will, I hope, be interesting and useful. Down the road, too, I've given some thought to dedicating entire posts to some of the most interesting of the lesser-known writers I've come across, about whom there are sometimes interesting personal details or odd little tidbits that just won't fit in those short little blurbs on the main list.
Looking back at my posts from the past year (90+ of them in all—no wonder I've got a stiff neck these days!), I was thinking about my favorite discoveries of the year. Certainly, the two novels that represent Celia Buckmaster's literary life's work would rank very high, and Mary Bell's even smaller literary output would also be hard to top. And for those who like their reads a bit grittier, nothing compares to Frances Faviell's harrowing Blitz memoir A Chelsea Concerto—still criminally out-of-print but perhaps gaining some new hope of reprinting from Faviell's prominence in Virginia Nicholson's fascinating Millions Like Us: Women's Lives in the Second World War.
But if I had to pick a single favorite, it would have to be Ursula Orange's smart, funny, cozy, and completely absorbing novel of wartime village life, Tom Tiddler's Ground (published in the U.S. as Ask Me No Questions). Why? Because it's as lovely and entertaining as any novel I can think of, and yet it has truly vanished without a trace. So it constitutes an exciting discovery that I was glad to be able to share. I can't recommend it highly enough.