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Showing posts from February, 2013

Miss Nobody

A little while ago I was delighted to be asked by leading Carnie expert, Nicola Wilson, to write the introduction to a reissue of Ethel Carnie's Miss Nobody (1913). I now have the text to Methuen's original publication. It would seem that the British Library have lost its only copy. The importance of Ethel Carnie to English literature cannot be underestimated; she was this country's first working-class female novelist. Her achievements throughout her life are extraordinary, given the unlevelled playing field for women and more so for working-class women, which remains the case in literature.

Nicola initially made contact in response to a piece I wrote on Carnie for the Guardian's books blog, in response to a piece championing the 'overlooked' Sylvia Townsend Warner, by acclaimed novelist Sarah Waters. I argued that, far from being 'overlooked', Townsend Warner, like many of her middle-class writing peers of the time, had enjoyed incessant championing -…


The last time I took a week off work I immediately came down with a nasty little cold. I've been off work this week. Yes, I also came down with a nasty little cold. This time it has been worsened by also moving home. The morning after my first night in new place I felt like I had been pummelled to within an inch of my life - and yet wasn't sure what was cold and what was the result of lugging too many boxes up and down stairs. There has been some reading though. I borrowed The Empty Family, a collection of short stories by Colm Toibin, from Kew Library. I know I mentioned it in the last post, but I have to say again how bizarre I find living in a borough whose libraries all seem intact.

I like Toibin; Brooklyn was a master class in concision creating depth of feeling. I couldn't get into his earlier work though, like The Heather Burning. But The Empty Family is back to the longing; portrayals of those who have lost love - before that sounds incredibly dated - Toibin manag…