Critical Biography of English Novelist, Viola Meynell, 1885-1956

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Meynell was in her time widely regarded as one of the generation’s greatest talents. She wrote a dozen novels, several books of stories, two memoirs, and two volumes of poetry, along with a great deal of literary journalism. No other full-length study or biography of Meynell exists. It is based on archival research as well as extensive interviews with surviving family members and descendents of people who knew her.


“Raymond MacKenzie presents a most readable portrait of a popular writer who was a bridge between the Victorian giants such as Tennyson and Browning, and the modern iconoclasts that were T. S. Eliot and F. Scott Fitzgerald. . . . begins with a thorough examination of the social and political movements of the last quarter of the nineteenth century that were dominated by Disraeli and the Young England Movement. He also weaves into this survey the lives of Meynell’s parents. . . Both were writers, Alice becoming the better known poet and essayist while Wilfrid encouraged Catholic emancipation in the two journals he edited. . . . Each chapter summarizes and criticizes Meynell’s work, examining its literary influences and forebears as well as the personal struggles with love and faith. This touch makes the book eminently readable – it is not merely an academic treatise on an author’s development; to those facts is added a depth of sensitive insight into the influence of family, the social responsibility laid on by faith, and her personal difficulties with the men in her life. . . . The bibliography is thorough and is evidence of MacKenzie’s command of the subject.” – Charmazel Dudt

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface by Paul Schlueter
1. An Ideal Mother
2. A Bayswater Childhood
3. Youth and Martha Vine
4. Cross-in-Hand Farm and Martin Secker
5. Lot Barrow and Modern Lovers
6. Maitland Radford and Columbine
7. D. H. Lawrence
8. Narcissus and Three Soldiers
9. Farther than France: 1918-1921
10. Transitions: 1922-1928
11. Love’s Impossibility: 1929-1940
12. A Short Season: 1941-1945
13. Last Years: 1952-1956
14. Conclusion
Notes, Bibliography; Index

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