Eirene Botting, Ena Twigge, Benedicta de Bezer, Susan Chitty, Lyndall Hopkinson

Gabriele Annan sorts them out

  • Nothing to Forgive: A Daughter’s Life of Antonia White by Lyndall Hopkinson
    Chatto, 376 pp, £12.95, August 1988, ISBN 0 7011 2969 7

Antonia White died eight years ago aged 81. In the past three years, two biographies or memoirs of her have been published, each by one of her two daughters. She is best known for her convent school novel Frost in May, which Elizabeth Bowen admired for being both a ‘minor classic’ and a ‘work of art’. It was published in 1933; by 1954 its author was complaining that it hung ‘round my neck like a withered wreath’. She would have liked her three subsequent novels and book of short stories to be equally successful, but they weren’t. They are perhaps more so now, having recently been reissued and made into a television serial.

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[*] Published last year as a Weidenfeld paperback at £4.95