Writers with Entries January 2013 Update
New Author Entries
Anna Williams, 1706-83, translator, poet, and anthologist, whose ambition of compiling a dictionary of scientific terms (in which she was an expert) came to nothing, probably because she was by then totally blind.
Lady Anna Miller, 1741-81, travel writer, patron of poetry, and anthologist.
Tabitha Tenney, 1762-1837, anthologist (probably) and author of Female Quixotism, an important early-American novel.
Jane Hume Clapperton, 1832-1914, journalist, social reformer and pamphleteer.
Helen Mathers, 1853-1920, prolific popular novelist who scored an immense success with her very first novel, Comin’ Thro’ the Rye, published in 1875.
Lady Colin Campbell, (born Gertrude Elizabeth Blood, 1857-1911), Irish-born feminist and journalist, who survived and rose above a particularly nasty divorce scandal.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930, well known as creator of Sherlock Holmes, is less known for his work in many other genres, including a fictional vindication of women doctors.
Nina Hamnett, 1890-1956, visual artist, modernist, Bohemian, and memoir writer.
Gillian Allnutt, b. 1949, feminist poet and anthologist, re-creator of women’s voices like those of Elizabeth Siddal and Sojourner Truth.
Kate Clanchy, b. 1965. Author of three volumes of poetry and a remarkable memoir of a woman refugee from Kosovo.
These six months have seen more than their share of exciting new publications. Among new novels, Zadie Smith’s NW looks at London at the current moment and J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy at a provincial town, also contemporary. Jeanette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate provides a whole new narrative of the often-fictionalised but all too real events involving the ‘Lancashire witches’ of 1612. Rose Tremain’s Merivel: A Man of his Time revisits the era of her highly successful Restoration. Fay Weldon’s Habits of the House looks at imperial Britain at the close of the nineteenth century, while Pat Barker’s Toby’s Room looks a generation onwards from that time, to a Britain trying to reclaim shattered identities after the first world war. A new play by Caryl Churchill, Love and Information, is a rare occurrence, though unsurprisingly a disturbing one; a new volume of stories by Alice Munro, Dear Life, is happily less rare. Edna O’Brien’s autobiography, Country Girl, provides a brilliant and sobering account of the kind of gendered literary hostility that one might have supposed to belong to a more distant past. Other news includes the planning of a memorial to Agatha Christie in Covent Garden, London, and the award to Hilary Mantel of her second Booker Prize.
Mary Astell. Her entry and that on Anne Finch have been modified to acknowledge (as most sources on these two writers do not) that their friend Lady Catherine Jones was the grand-daughter of Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh, whom the ODNB calls “the leading woman intellectual of her generation.” Another untraced thread in a female tradition.
Margaret Atwood is pursuing her career as a geek by launching the website Fanado, which puts artists or creators in digital touch with their fans.
Agatha Christie. A lost text has emerged: an essay on English detective writers, commissioned by the Ministry of Information for celebratory or propaganda purposes in 1945 and never published in England. (Christie freely pointed out faults as well as virtues anyway, especially in Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers.) The essay now makes the introduction to a new edition of Ask a Policeman, 1933, a collaboration by the Detection Club (not including Christie).
Hannah Cowley. Her entry has been variously updated, most arrestingly with an earlier marriage date than the universally-listed 1772. Biographers of Cowley have missed the entry in Cheshire Parish Registers and Bishop’s Transcripts (duly copied by the International Genealogical Index) which records Hannah Parkhouse’s wedding to Thomas Cowley at Chester on 1 January 1771.
Sarah Fielding: the painting by Henry Singleton of a scene from David Simple is now at Chawton House Library, where it joins Singleton’s two paintings of scenes from Frances Burney’s Camilla.
Anne Finch: Gillian Wright’s discovery of a previously unknown poem by her, “The Nightingale, and the Cuckoo”.
Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis: research by Gwen Davies has revealed her global reach in English translation: the reprinting of Adelaide and Theodore in The Nova-Scotia Packet and General Advertiser within a very few years of its publication.
Elizabeth Gooch: research by Paul Rice has discovered the front-page newspaper advertisement she issued for her autobiography, giving the names of more than a hundred people mentioned in the book: from royal dukes in England and France, through distinguished churchmen, army officers, and theatre people, to her husband’s relations and her own seducers and lovers.
Katherine Mansfield: graduate student Chris Mourant has turned up four previously unknown stories by her (one of them dealing with a difficult passage in her own life) in the archives of King’s College, London – just in time for them to appear in the new Edinburgh edition of her collected fiction.
Iris Murdoch: another discovery of an unknown cache of manuscripts. These are letters, many of them love-letters, to the philosopher Philippa Foot. The Orlando entry already recorded that they were lovers, though some of the media suggested that this had been unknown until now.
Mariana Starke: research by Elizabeth Crawford posted on Women and her Sphere has resulted in extensive re-writing. It explodes the myth that Starke grew up in India (where her father’s colonial service ended before she was born) but illuminates the way her family links with India, and (through her great-grandfather) with the slave trade, chart the changing legacies of empire.
Augusta Webster: some revisions following Patricia Rigg’s fine biographical study of 2009.
41 free-standing events have been added on the histories of smallpox, shorthand, witch trials, the co-operative movement, the London postal districts, Google, the Women’s Library, and various publications by writers who are without their own entries.
Summary of Content
10 entries (8 British women writers, 1 other women writer, and 1 male writer); 41 new free-standing chronology entries; 259 new bibliographical listings; 22,867 new tags; 80,836 new words (exclusive of tags).