Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Highlights of the 2024 update (4 of 4)

Last but not least, in my fourth and final post highlighting authors recently added to my main writers list, I have 14 authors whose work was comprised of or included more or less traditional mystery or crime novels. The best news of all is that three of these authors have already been reprinted.

The British Library Crime Classics series has already reprinted the one mystery by
BILLIE HOUSTON, Twice Round the Clock (1935), a country house mystery. Along with her sister Reneé, as the Houston Sisters, she was also an actress and dancer.

And Moonstone Press (see here), who are doing some really interesting work these days, have reprinted two more of the authors I've just come across. ZOË JOHNSON was the author of two mystery novels, the first of which is now available again. At the Sign of the Clove and Hoof (1937) (a book I have actually read, no less) deals with murders in a zany English village worthy of early Gladys Mitchell or Edmund Crispin. I found the ending a bit anticlimactic, but otherwise loved it, which means I'm hoping Moonstone will also reprint her second novel, Mourning After (1938), about tensions arising from a wealthy old man's will, which leaves everything to his children unless there's any suspicion of foul play, in which case it goes to a cousin. Said cousin shows up on the scene, of course... 

Moonstone has also reprinted all three of D. ERSKINE MUIR's mysteries. Muir was a teacher, historian, biographer, and author of four novels in all. The first (as Dorothy Muir), Summer Friendships (1915), is a non-mystery, epistolary novel in which a group of caravanners venturing from the Scottish borders to Loch Maree all write letters to a young widow relative, "who herself becomes involved in the plot before the happy end is reached." Unsurprisingly, I'm intrigued… Following her husband’s premature death in 1932, Muir returned to fiction to support the family, including three mysteries based on true crimes—In Muffled Night (1933), based on the 1862 murder of a servant, Jessie McPherson, in Glasgow, Five to Five (1934), on the 1909 Glasgow murder of Marion Gilchrist, and In Memory of Charles (1941), on an unidentified case, but one which, Muir assured her readers, happened as described. In addition to fiction, Muir published biographies of Queen Elizabeth, Florence Nightingale, Machiavelli and Cromwell, histories of Milan and Germany, a guide to Oxford, and other works of local history, as well as The Art of Conversation (1953). Lift the Curtain (1955) was subtitled "reminiscences of the author's early life."

So far as I know, those are the only authors in this post who have been reprinted, but a few of these others might have potential for the future. I. R. G. (INNES RUTH GRAY) HART was an artist as well as the author of eight novels which, according to contemporary reviews, often combine mystery, adventure, and humour. Frontier of Fear (1928) takes place in “a broken-down cottage on an island, separated from the coast of Ireland by a narrow but treacherous channel.” The Double Image (1928) is described as “a murder story of an unusual type, which incidentally includes an excellent satire on London suburban life.” Dead Hand (1929) features “a twin sister resolutely carrying out the broken dying wishes of her brother who is killed in an accident. … Miss Hart has subtlety and humour.” Facets (1930) looks at a family’s suspicions of a dead man’s widow. In Forests of the Night (1930), two men go on an expedition to the Malayan jungle, only one returns, and subsequent revelations cause repercussions among their family and friends at home. Adjustments (1931) is a “very entertaining book about a mother who would commit any small crime for the sake of her children and not even recognise any wrong. There is a delicious irony in the gentle exposure of Ruth Lambe’s fraudulent machinations.” In Like Water (1931) a girl who had a fling with a soldier, soon after killed in battle, convinces his mother it was a great love.  And Coloured Glass (1933) features the intrigues and tragedy around the young, selfish, unlikely wife of a vicar in a country town. Hart is listed on a 1925 passenger list as a teacher. Predictably, her books are mostly impossible to find in the U.S.

Perhaps along similar lines is EDA KATHLEEN BRIDGMAN, who published as Lee Lindsay and Jean Barre (as well as four early titles as Jean Barr, oddly enough—a switch of publishers seems to have inspired the extra "e"). She published more than 40 novels in all, many romantic comedy adventures, some with definite mystery or thriller elements. A 1936 review refers to “her usual sorcery of brilliant colouring, music, quick and unexpected happenings and humour ‘straight off the ice,’ and lures us into forgetting that there are such things as boredom, stormy weather and lack of money.” Among her Barre titles, The Swiftest Thing in Life (1931) tells of three young London flatmates and their adventures in love, with side tracks to the U.S., Cornwall, and Sicily. A Hunting We Will Go (1934) features a young man in a battle of wits with jewel thieves—a review described it as “not exactly a thriller,” but praised it nonetheless. The King's Pearl (1934) also features jewel thievery, involving an impoverished young gentlewoman and the title jewel, formerly belonging to Charles II. The Desert Son (1935), which is particularly enticing me, is “an arresting tale in which a man who has lived an amazingly lawless life in the desert suddenly bounces into English country life with oddly humorous results.” Gather Ye Rosebuds (1937) is “the story of little Tara Mallison, who blossoms from being her aunt’s unofficial lady’s-maid to mistress of a mansion. Interwoven with the main theme are the love affairs of two charming characters—Rosita and Roselle Vesant, known as the ‘Rosebuds’ of New York.” The Lee Lindsay titles, also romantic and adventurous in tone, perhaps have a bit more melodrama thrown in. The Three Buccaneers (1934) features a heroine abducted by an unrequited lover. In The Moon Through Trees (1935), a young Chelsea model is on a quest to find her father and sister. Unarmoured Knight (1936) features a stolen Buddha with a curse attached. And Dress Rehearsal (1937) features a love triangle playing out in a theatre. I have a copy of The Adventures of a Lady (1944), with a dustjacket no less, but haven't got to it yet.

I also have one of DORIAN LEE's non-crime novels waiting to be read. She wrote over a dozen in all, and Hubin lists her in his Crime Fiction database, but of the details I’ve found, only two of her novels definitely seem to fit: Strange Partner (1948) is certainly in the mystery/thriller line, with a young couple’s plane forced to land in the South Seas and drama involving the wife’s former beau to follow, and Cut the Cards, Lady (1952) is about a fortune teller who sees murder in the future. Snakes Have Fangs (1946), about a young woman shipwrecked on a surprisingly luxurious South Seas island and threatened by the natives could have thriller elements, as could Dark Star Rising (1947), about supernatural dabbling that threatens a soon-to-be-married couple. Lee’s more light-hearted work seems to include The Fledgeling (1952), in which an adopted girl “is used to a gay life and causes havoc in the Rideouts’ placid world … It would be difficult to resist her infectious gaiety and charm,” while Green Bracken (1953) is a “charming and light-hearted romance set against the nostalgic background of a caravan holiday by the sea” and Wild Apple Orchard (1954) is “the happy, heart-warming story of the Dennistouns and the old orchard they hopefully converted into a caravan camp.” Others about which I’ve found information are Uncertain Treasure (1947), in which a young woman is mistaken for a film star, Lover Come Home (1950), about a “temple dancer of the East” dealing with the snobbery of an English village, and Luke's Summer (1951) about a “surplus woman” who marries, at 37, a widowed doctor with teenage children. In The Captive Years (1951), a divorced couple struggles to establish new lives for themselves, while Prisoner Go Free (1954) features a woman struggling to adapt to life after being released from prison, and Home to Our Valley (1956) is about a young Austrian woman returning home to conflict and heartbreak following an extended stay in England. I could locate no details about her three remaining novels—Crooked Paths (1943), Sandover Goes Gay (1946), and The Bad Companions (1955).

Somehow, I already had half of the two-woman team comprising the pseudonym Hearnden Balfour on my list—I added Evelyn Balfour a while back, but neglected to add BERYL HEARNDEN. She was a progressive farmer, journalist, editor, and author of three mystery novels with Balfour. These are The Paper Chase (1927, aka A Gentleman from Texas), about an ex-officer who answers an ad and gets pulled into adventure and drama, The Enterprising Burglar (1928), about "a burglar, who robs from the rich and distributes to the poor, [and] escapes from a train wreck with the brief case of a dangerous enemy agent," and Anything Might Happen (1931, aka Murder and the Red-Haired Girl), about intrigue issuing from a reformed criminal and his double. All featured series character Inspectore Jack Strickland. She later collaborated with Louise Howard on What Country Women Use (1939), a guide for rural women.

Only one of IRIS WEDGWOOD's four novels belongs in this post, and that perhaps only peripherally. The Livelong Day (1925) is a tale of the murder of a drunken Earl and the difficulties his widow has until her new romantic interest can be cleared of the crime. But it's apparently not a mystery per se, as the identity of the murderer seems to be widely known; rather it's a look at the trouble caused by suspicion. The Iron Age (1927) seems to have to do with a woman trying to save her son from a career as an ironmonger. Perilous Seas (1928) has Ruritanian elements, stemming from a young wife's adventures making nice with the king of a Balkan State in order to further her husband's career, only to have said king fall in love with her—just on the eve of a revolution. And The Fairway (1929) deals with the fortunes of several men and woman in the industrial North of England. Wedgwood's mother, rather better known these days than she herself, was historian C. V. (Cicely Veronica) Wedgwood. Later, Iris published two non-fiction works, Northumberland & Durham (1932) and Fenland Rivers (1936). Joseph Conrad’s story collection Within the Tides (1915) was dedicated to Wedgwood and her husband Ralph, who was knighted for his work as a railway administrator.

A couple of "one hit wonders" seem, from the information I've found about them, to have potential. AGNESE AUTUMN was the unidentified author of one novel, The Gold and Copper Delamonds (1930), an “interesting and ingeniously invented” mystery with supernatural elements, about murder at a fancy dress ball—possibly committed or inspired by a portrait which vanishes thereafter. Hubin concluded the name is a pseudonym, but I’ve made it no further.

And I'm somewhat intrigued, too, by BRIGID MAXWELL's single mystery, The Case of the Six Mistresses (1955), about a newspaper special correspondent who has kept a busy social life. A critic noted that Maxwell “develops her story with a swing and has a long list of pleasant characters." Maxwell was born in Australia, but appears to have emigrated as a small child. She was a journalist, translated a biography of Mussolini from Italian, and wrote several short pamphlets for local agencies, including a brief history of Hampstead.

I also wouldn't turn down an opportunity to read Breakfast for Three (1930), a mystery set on fictional Redmoor, in which a wanderer comes across a cottage with a corpse inside, was praised for its local color. That book was co-written by Marguerite Bryant, already on my list, and GERTRUDE HELLEN MACANALLY. The two also published one earlier novel, The Chronicles of a Great Prince (1925), a Ruritanian adventure set in 1817.

Another unidentified author, ELSA GLEN published a single thriller, The Secret of Villa Vanesta (1935), a “Rivieran murder tale of a neurotic girl, a somewhat unsympathetic English painter, and two modern English women,” also described as "a tale of suffering, occult influences, and weird happenings." Hubin concluded her name, too, is a pseudonym, but there are too few leads to pursue.

I couldn't locate covers of any of Hartley's fiction,
but this cookbook cover caught my eye

Suffragist, journalist, and cookbook writer,
OLGA HARTLEY also published three novels. Anne (1920) involves an orphan who marries one her guardians, miserably, her child dies, and she finally runs off with her other guardian (after he’s unjustly served five years in prison)—but despite this subject matter, it was repeatedly noted by reviewers that it was humorous—“A comedy with just that touch of sadness that brings laughter close to tears.” The Malaret Mystery (1925) and The Witch of Chelsea (1930) are mysteries—the former set in Morocco, the latter featuring the murder of a former PM and a Cockney detective. She also wrote or co-wrote several cookbooks, including with Hilda Leyel (1880-1957, aka Mrs. C. F. Leyel). A 1923 libel case was brought against Hartley, involved the attempted sale, by Hartley and her mother, of "Golden Ballot" tickets to plaintiff; she lost, but the damages were one farthing and the judge dismissed the action as frivolous.

And finally, VICTORIA YORKE published three novels. Five of Hearts (1927) tells of two sisters, alone and penniless, and how they prevail—"Love and business mix well in this novel, which has much to commend it, for it is well and smartly written and is off the beaten track of fiction." Her other two have crime elements—Sealed Lips (1928), in which an actress kills her blackmailer and goes on the run, and Suppressed Evidence (1931) about a man who commits perjury to save his wife from suspicion, and the repercussions of his lies. She could well be the Victoria Margaret Yorke (née Gerald) 1900-1976, but there’s too little to go on to be sure.

And that's that for now. It's given me several new authors to search for, and no doubt there are many more to be found in the same fog of obscurity from whence these came.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Highlights of the 2024 update (3 of 4)

This post, about 13 more authors added to my main author list in my most recent update, is a bit of a catch-all. All of them are interesting in one way or another—either for their work or their connections to better known figures, but they don't have anything in particular in common with each other.

For example, I'm not certain I'll read any of JANE HUKK's three novels, all concerned to some extent with India, where she lived for more than a decade with her husband: Abdullah and His Two Strings (1926), about an Indian student at Edinburgh University who, though already married at home, falls in love with his landlady’s daughter; The Bridal Creeper (1928), in which “a young man marries out of his class, and repents in India, where he and his wife each seek suitable consolation”; and End of a Marriage (1935), about a World War I marriage between an Indian man and a Scottish woman, who vow never to meet again, but do, unexpectedly, under very different circumstances. But I thought some of you would like to know that, following her return from India, Hukk lived in Berwick. Her stepsister was none other than Anne HEPPLE, and in a 1929 interview Hepple said she was inspired to try her hand at writing because Hukk had been successful at it.

I've added LAURA WILDIG's only novel to my future British Library list. Pandora's Shocks (1927) is a farcical tale with supernatural elements, in which an impoverished scientist pays his rent by providing to his wealthy young landlady a “genie,” a man’s mind extracted from his body, with whom she has many adventures. Could there be shades of Miss Carter and the Ifrit there? Wildig was also a playwright and artist, and at least four of her plays were produced in London—Once Upon a Time (1919), Priscilla and the Profligate (1920), Punchinello (1924), and (after a considerable absence noted in the play’s reviews) The Boleyns (1951). Her other interesting tidbit is that she was part of an informal group known as The Launderers (see here), which also included a number of young actors and artists, as well as no fewer than three other authors from my list—a young Antonia White, Mary Grigs, and Naomi Jacob, the last of whom also appeared in one of Wildig’s plays.

You might think watching our idols come crashing down was a modern pastime fueled by social media, but
DOROTHY BARTLAM might have something to say about that. She was a film actress and author of a single novel, Contrary-Wise (1931), about glamorous life in Devonshire, Paris, and London. She seems to have played supporting roles in little-known films, and given up acting on her 1933 marriage, so perhaps she hardly counts as an idol, but her subsequent publicity never fails to mention her celebrity status. In 1936, she was in the divorce courts with her first husband. On the 1939 England & Wales Register, she is divorced and gives her profession as “writer”—she may have published short fiction or articles, but no more novels. And in 1949, she was in the papers, referred to as “former film actress,” for driving under the influence.

Early (pre-marriage) pic of Gertrude Landa

I'm slightly obsessed with playwright, journalist, and novelist
GERTRUDE LANDA. Much of her fiction was in collaboration with her husband, Myer Jack Landa, but her debut novel, The Case and the Cure (1901), about the romantic lives of two sisters, was a solo production. In 1908, she published a well-regarded anthology, Jewish Fairy Tales and Fables under her Aunt Naomi pseudonym. With her husband, she published four more novels, which all sound entertaining and unique. Jacob Across Jabbok (1933), which according to novelist Margaret Kennedy was an answer to the question “What does it mean to be a Jew?” She praised its good humour. Kitty Villareal (1934) was based on the true story of the life and adventures of the first Jewish peeress (see here). Chykel-Michael (1935) was widely marketed as the first truly humorous Jewish novel since Israel Zangwill's earlier work—a critic summed up "Chykel-Michael are two practical jokers of the ghetto, who find in their environment in free England an endless source of amusement and opportunity for good deeds.” And The Joy-Life (1937) deals with the unlikely friendship between a widowed “Scarlet Woman” and a pure and naïve country girl. Landa and her husband also collaborated on a number of plays, and played a significant role in encouraging British Jewish theatre. Landa was the sister of novelist Samuel Gordon and aunt of author Phyllis Gordon Demarest (included on my list). And, quite apart from her work, there is one more fascinating detail about Landa. In the annals of law, she is notable for the injunction she successfully obtained against the Jewish Chronicle, for which she had written using the Aunt Naomi pseudonym. Her legal action established that she had a right to the pseudonym she had created, and the magazine could not go on using it after her departure. The case was cited as precedent in numerous subsequent cases involving authors’ rights. 

Biographer and novelist FLAVIA GIFFARD comes to my list thanks to an alert from Simon Thomas, though her name may not immediately ring any bells for him. She published three novels under three different names. As Flavia Giffard, she published Keep Thy Wife (1931), the tragic tale of a romance between an Englishwoman and a half-Indian, half-Irish man. After her marriage, as Flavia Anderson, she published Jezebel and the Dayspring (1949), a retelling of the story of the Phoenician princess. And under the amusing pseudonym Petronella Portobello, she published How to Be a Deb's Mum (1957, published in the U.S. as Mother of the Deb), an epistolary novel in the form of letters from the harried said mother to her friend, describing the mishaps of launching her daughter into high society. Its epilogue was contributed by Compton Mackenzie. It was the lattermost novel that Simon alerted me to, and I thank him for the heads up. She also published (as Flavia Anderson) two volumes of non-fiction—The Ancient Secret: In Search of the Holy Grail (1953) and The Rebel Emperor (1958), about the Taiping rebellion of the mid 19th century. She was also the great-niece of Elinor Glyn, another list entrant.

Image swiped from Mark's post at Wordwoodiana

I also owe thanks, this time to Mark Valentine who blogs at Wormwoodiana, for flagging GILLIAN EDWARDS for me. Her first novel, Sun of My Life (1951), has a man researching the life of a college acquaintance, a poet whom he has saved from suicide only to have him die soon after of pneumonia. Mark reviewed it here and compared its structure to Symons’ The Quest for Corvo. She didn’t publish again until The Road to Hell (1967), in which "a well-meaning man enlists the aid of the dark powers to bring prosperity to an unsophisticated village in the Mediterranean, and, in doing so, brings the village people all the ills of civilisation.” I Am Leo (1969) is about the downfall of an arrogant prince in Renaissance Italy, and Tower of Lions (1971), also set in that locale, features Giulio d’Este, imprisoned by the Borgias for 50 years due to a youthful indiscretion, reflecting on his life and times. Accidental Visitor (1974), set in the present, deals with an author living in isolation on an island, who must share his space for a time with a suicidal, recently-widowed woman. I could find no details about her final novel, Fatal Grace (1978). She also published three volumes about word origins—Uncumber and Pantaloon: Some Words with Stories (1968), Hogmanay and Tiffany: The Names of Feasts and Fasts (1970), and Hobgoblin and Sweet Puck: Fairy Names and Natures (1974).

There could be a substantial separate list of authors with some affiliation to Bloomsbury, and ANNA D. WHYTE would be included. Apart from anything else, she was one of the young women present at Newnham College for Virginia Woolf’s famous lecture there (as well as one by E. M. Forster). But her two novels were also published by the Hogarth Press, complete with Vanessa Bell covers. Change Your Sky (1935) is set among English folk escaping a dreary March in a pension in Florence, and how the improved climate affects their sensibilities. Lights Are Bright (1936) is about the adventures (including hurricane and earthquake) befalling a heroine in pursuit of the man she loves, and the new love she finds instead. Her writing was sometimes compared to Virginia Woolf, but there are indications that her own relationship with Woolf was ambivalent and that her early admiration may have faded with time. She was born and raised in New Zealand, but her parents were Scottish and she returned to England to attend Cambridge and seems to have remained for the rest of her life. She worked for the BBC during World War II, and in later years moved to Dorset with her family and managed Thomas Hardy’s birthplace near Dorchester for the National Trust.

On the subject of literary admirations, the first mention I came across of PAULINE MARRIAN noted that she was a great admirer of Dorothy Richardson while still quite young; the two were introduced in 1920 and they continued a friendship and correspondence through their lives. Marrian went on to publish two novels of her own. Under This Tree (1934) features a heroine struggling to break free from her old-fashioned home life—a reviewer noted, “This full-length sketch of a premature frump could easily have been shallow and spiteful, especially if the author had shown any signs of pertness. Actually, it is both satirical and sympathetic. Her Janet may be an appalling bore to her friends, but she is a joy to follow." Destruction's Reach (1935) deals with a painfully shy but nonetheless passionate woman, and her struggles to triumph in a stage career. She lived for a time in Hungary, and after World War II, she worked for the British Sailor’s Society.

Perhaps arguably belonging on a French version of this list, FRANCESCA CLAREMONT had close ties to Provence and presumably lived there at some time, but she gave her birth nation as England on U.S. immigration forms and lived mostly in England as an adult. She published poetry, a volume of children’s stories, and a biography of Catherine of Aragon (1939), as well as five novels. Magical Incense (1932), set partly in Germany, is about the difficulties of the three daughters of a country parson. Lost Paradise (1933), which seems to have received particular acclaim, is about a Frenchwoman, married to an Englishman, who puts her lush recollections of her old home into letters to her cousin. Turn Again, Ladies (1934) is about an embittered woman, widowed from an unhappy marriage, who must find a way forward with her daughter and a close friend. Dead Waters (1936) is a historical adventure set in Provence in 1288, in the time of the crusades, and The Shepherd's Tune (1960) is also set in Provence just before the outbreak of World War II, about a young shepherd who seems to cause strange disruptions among the locals. Claremont was a Montessori teacher for most of her life; following her husband’s death, she moved to Los Angeles and became a director of the teacher training institute there. Despite all this detail, however, I haven’t been able to trace her maiden name.

Farcical comedy can very easily go awry if an author is not very skilled in her handling, but I confess I'm a bit intrigued by NEVE SCARBOROUGH's two humorous novels. Pantechnicon (1934) has Ruritanian elements, though its setting is London—the dethroned king of a fictional country and his daughter take to working in a very unique department store. Shy Virginity (1935) features a parson’s wife who is determined to have a singing career; “the author handles subjects which Victorians treated as 'tabu' with a good deal less than Victorian reticence." Scarborough seems to have spent a fair amount of time in Scandinavia, and published Seldom Deer, or, Wheels Across Denmark (1936). In later years, she was active in social causes, particularly on behalf of girls with disabilities, including those caused by polio. Strangely, considering her local prominence, she seems to completely disappear from public records and newspapers after 1958, and I could locate no obituary.

It's always fun when a contemporary review hands me on a silver platter the essential clue to identify an author who might otherwise have proven a challenge. So I appreciate a 1958 review which says, of CLARE SIMON, "The author who writes under this name works by day in Hatchards and writes in the evenings. She is the daughter of Michael de la Bedoyere, editor of the Catholic Herald…" This led me easily to Sybil Clare de la Bédoyère (later De Boer), whose four novels received significant acclaim when they appeared. The Passionate Shepherd (1951), begun when the author was only seventeen, is about the love of a priest for a young woman. Oh, the Family! (1956) deals with a Sussex farm family, with a father who is none too good at farming and a mother doing her best to make a home. Bats with Baby Faces (1958) finds an Austrian WWII refugee trying to adapt to life in an English convent school. And Glass Partitions (1959) is about the love troubles of a young woman journalist. I have Bats waiting to be read…

I could perhaps have saved GLADYS ST JOHN LOE for my next post on mystery writers, since her final novel, Smoking Altars (1936) concerns the travails of a man who believes he has inherited a homicidal mania, but it doesn't sound exactly like it fits my mystery category either. Loe published four other novels and a story collection. Spilled Wine (1922) is about a young woman, ashamed of her lower class origins, who becomes a wildly successful author (and lover). In Beggar's Banquet (1923), a young typist inherits a thousand pounds and heads out to explore the world. The Door of Beyond (1926) has supernatural elements, with a hero who is possessed by a spiritual twin; he finds said twin embodied in a woman, only to have her spirit taken over by his dead wife. Meanwhile, I could almost believe that Who Feeds the Tiger (1935), which “keeps us perpetually amused by the local gossip and social taboos of the quiet, imaginary cathedral town of Glenchester,” and which was published as by “Eve St John Loe,” were by another author entirely, as it sounds quite different from her other work, but Gladys' middle name was Eve and library catalogues seem clear that it’s the same author. Her story collection was Dust of the Dawn and Other Stories (1922), and she also published a one act play, Sentence of Death (1930). Her husband was one Charles Edmund St John Loe, but a lingering mystery is where the "St John" came from. It’s not on his early records, nor do his father or grandfather ever seem to have used it at all. It’s possible that the couple simply adopted it at some point for its upper crust sound?

And actually, my last author,
FRANCES LAYLAND-BARRATT, could also have appeared in my mystery writers post. But although Ann Kembal (1934), set in Manchester, was described as “a very unusual crime story of a successful murderess,” the rest seem more like melodrama, some with supernatural touches. She wrote six novels in all. I found no details about the first two, The Shadow of the Church (1886) and Doubts Are Traitors (1889), the latter subtitled "The Story of a Cornish Family," but Beatrix Cadell (1892) deals with a heroine with no formal schooling or religious background, who falls for an immoral schoolmaster. She published a story collection, The Queen and the Magicians and Other Stories (1900) and a volume of poetry (1914), but otherwise fell silent until the 1930s, when she published three novels in consecutive years, beginning with the aforementioned Ann Kembal. Lycanthia (1935) sounds quite a lot like horror, with a heroine “reared in an atmosphere of unhappiness and suspicion, and nursed by a female dedicated to the Devil … Strange happenings ensue, in which a huge wolf-like animal plays a terrible part.” Goodness. There's a copy available on Abe Books for a quite reasonable $10,000… And Joy Court (1936) plays on the old bugaboo about inherited insanity. I doubt I would have enjoyed having tea with Layland-Barratt: In 1922, she was quoted in the papers advocating strongly against allowing women into Cambridge, and indeed against higher education of women in general—“What is the good of being able to tackle Euclid if you don’t know how to cook a dinner?” Ahem.
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