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Tomboy Grudge

Claire Harman, 27 February 1992

Rose MacaulayA Writer’s Life 
by Jane Emery.
Murray, 381 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7195 4768 7
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... Rose Macaulay loved semantics and her most precious possession was her 12-volume Oxford English Dictionary: ‘my bible, my staff, my entertainer, my help in work and my recreation in leisure,’ she wrote to Victor and Ruth Gollancz in a rare display of feeling, after they had replaced the copy destroyed with the rest of Macaulay’s flat during the Blitz ...

Take my camel, dear

Rosemary Hill: Rose Macaulay’s Pleasures, 16 December 2021

Personal Pleasures: Essays on Enjoying Life 
by Rose Macaulay.
Handheld Classics, 256 pp., £12.99, August 2021, 978 1 912766 50 5
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... Abroad … is it worth the trouble of getting there?’ So begins Rose Macaulay’s alphabetical journey through the mixed pleasures of existence. First published in 1935, this reissue comes at a moment when Abroad is once again hedged about with difficulty. The bureaucratic obstacles ‘that crouch and snarl before you’ like dragons no longer include traveller’s cheques, and reservations are much simpler with the internet, but PCR tests and passenger locator forms demand the same combination of ‘industry, negligence and guile’ which Macaulay advises the tourist to deploy in order to get across the Channel ...

Four Poems

Robert Crawford, 16 November 2000

... on top of marriage. Marry me, Alice, marry my secrets, Sight unseen, and marry Glasgow and Rose Macaulay and the snell east wind. I’ll marry you and Iona and has-been, Shall-be firths of slipways and dwammy kyles. I do, you did, we’ll do, hitched to every last Drop of our wedding-day showers, Downpours, reflecting us over and over, So we’ll ...


Frank Kermode, 8 June 1995

Angus Wilson 
by Margaret Drabble.
Secker, 714 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 436 20038 4
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... by the suddenly-famous Angus Wilson, Dwight Macdonald ‘introduced himself, American-style, to Rose Macaulay, describing himself as an editor of the Partisan Review and founder of his own journal Politics: she stared at him and said, “Have you come all the way across the room to tell me that? How kind.” ’ ‘American-style’ may be a hint that ...

Dame Cissie

Penelope Fitzgerald, 12 November 1987

Rebecca West: A Life 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 297 79084 6
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Family Memories 
by Rebecca West and Faith Evans.
Virago, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86068 741 4
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... in defence of peace and collective security, had to toss up to decide between Rebecca West and Rose Macaulay for the place of honour. Between these three women enough power should have been generated even for an impossible cause. They were tireless collectors of facts – Rose used to take her newspaper-cuttings ...


James Wood: The ‘TLS’, 27 June 2002

Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... the vicar of Esher). May notes two milestones in the paper’s steady modernising: a review by Rose Macaulay (‘later Dame Rose Macaulay’, as May bowingly nudges us) of Ivy Compton-Burnett’s Manservant and Maidservant in 1947, the first time that a new English novel had been given a full page piece to ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’, 3 April 2014

... the High Victorians who scraped away the ivy and invented ‘archaeology’. In the 20th century Rose Macaulay wondered whether, after the horror of total war, any artist could ever again get pleasure from the sight of destruction. The evidence of Ruin Lust suggests that artists have lost some confidence, if not interest, in the subject. Keith ...

Sperm’s-Eye View

Robert Crawford, 23 February 1995

Dock Leaves 
by Hugo Williams.
Faber, 67 pp., £6.99, June 1994, 0 571 17175 3
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Spring Forest 
by Geoffrey Lehmann.
Faber, 171 pp., £6.99, September 1994, 0 571 17246 6
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Everything is Strange 
by Frank Kuppner.
Carcanet, 78 pp., £8.95, July 1994, 1 85754 071 9
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The Queen of Sheba 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £6.95, April 1994, 1 85224 284 1
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... The family, stuff of novelists as different as Rose Macaulay and James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Lewis Grassic Gibbon, is absent from much great poetry of the early 20th century. T.S. Eliot’s parents, a religious poet and a businessman, produced between them a businessman-religious poet, and meant an enormous amount to him ...


Rosemary Hill: The Writers’ Blitz, 21 February 2013

The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War 
by Lara Feigel.
Bloomsbury, 519 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3044 4
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... on the experiences of six novelists: Bowen, Graham Greene, Henry Yorke (who wrote as Henry Green), Rose Macaulay, Rosamond Lehmann and the Austrian émigrée Hilde Spiel. The combination of danger and novelty made the times ‘an absolute gift to the writer’, as Yorke put it to Lehmann: ‘Everything is breaking up.’ Amid the physical and emotional ...


Paul Foot: Windsor Girls School on 22 June, 4 July 1985

... of socialist youth was probably all a mirage. Sir Woodrow ends his book with a quotation from Rose Macaulay, who apparently told him (at a publisher’s party, needless to say) that ‘she felt the same enthusiasms and had the same attitudes at 70 as when she was 18: merely the body had changed.’ ‘The same with me,’ concludes the shameless ...


Rosemary Dinnage: Remembering (and Forgetting) 1943, 18 May 2000

... sides in the war – refugees, politicians, gamblers, aristos. It was two months before this that Rose Macaulay had visited Lisbon for the Spectator (a result, no doubt, of our new, cuddly relationship with the Azores-owners). At a cosmopolitan dinner party, she wrote, the Portuguese host would tell the servants: ‘The English are coming; we must put ...

Sun and Strawberries

Mary Beard: Gwen Raverat, 19 September 2002

Gwen Raverat: Friends, Family and Affections 
by Frances Spalding.
Harvill, 438 pp., £30, June 2001, 1 86046 746 6
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... been out of print and in Cambridge, at least, still sells briskly to locals and tourists alike). Rose Macaulay, for example, oozed – anonymously – in the TLS: ‘an altogether delightful book … an enchanting cast of characters, all set forth with a kind of gay, insouciant wit … the humour is infectious, the figures endearingly ridiculous and ...

Into Council Care

John Bayley, 6 July 1995

Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel 
by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle.
Macmillan, 208 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 333 60760 0
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... enough to grasp this too; she draws apt attention to the Bowen syndrome (also evident in Rose Macaulay) of being infinitely sociable and at the same time infinitely solitary. Bowen said that writing novels was a way of working off ‘the sense of being solitary and farouche’. By writing she became ‘relatable’. If one were ‘house-trained ...

Reminder: Mother

Adam Mars-Jones: Helen Phillips, 2 January 2020

The Need 
by Helen Phillips.
Chatto, 272 pp., £16.99, August 2019, 978 1 78474 284 3
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... entailed the demotion of a whole generation and a bit of women, not just Bagnold (born 1889) but Rose Macaulay (born 1881) and Sylvia Townsend Warner (born 1893). This seems especially unjust when one of them successfully addresses, as Bagnold does in The Squire, the area where Woolf is weakest – engagement with the body, unintellectualised sensual ...

Among the Antimacassars

Alison Light, 11 November 1999

by Virginia Woolf, edited by Elizabeth Steele.
Blackwell, 123 pp., £50, December 1998, 0 631 17729 9
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by Paul Auster.
Faber, 186 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19197 5
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... family and social life. When Flush was published in 1933, feminist reviewers (Rebecca West and Rose Macaulay among them) immediately drew parallels between the spaniel and Elizabeth Barrett, seeing his story as her psychological biography: she is petted and confined like him, always subject to the will of others. Flush marks the distance Woolf gave ...

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