Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Sheila Kaye-Smith

Sheila Kaye-Smith was known for her many novels set in the borderlands of Sussex and Kent, the former in which she lived for the majority of her life.

NPG x90081; Sheila Kaye-Smith by Elliott & Fry

by Elliott & Fry, vintage print, 1920s

Born in Sussex in 1887, Sheila was a distant relative of M.M. Kaye, the author of The Far Pavilions.  In 1924, she married the Anglican clergyman Theodore Penrose Fry, and both converted to the Catholic Church in 1929.  They purchased land on which they built a Catholic chapel, dedicated to St Theresa of Lisieux.  Interestingly, their home, Little Doucegrove, was later owned by Rumer Godden.

Sheila’s 1923 novel, The End of the House of Alard, became a bestseller, and her books enjoyed worldwide sales.

“Pictures of my life stretch back into what must have been my very earliest childhood…  They are not movies, then, nor are they talkies, but they are quite distinctly feelies.”

Bibliography:

  • The Tramping Methodist (1908)
  • Three against the World (1909)
  • Spell Land: The Story of a Sussex Farm (1910)
  • Samuel Richardson (1911)
  • Isle of Thorns (1913)
  • Willow’s Forge and other poems (1914)
  • Sussex Gorse (1916)
  • John Galsworthy (1916)
  • The Challenge to Sirius (1917)
  • Little England (1918)
  • Tamarisk Town (1919)
  • Green Apple Harvest (1920)
  • Joanna Godden (1921)
  • Saints in Sussex (1923) poems
  • The End of the House of Alard (1923)
  • Starbrace (1923)
  • Anglo-Catholicism (1925)
  • The George and the Crown (1925)
  • The Mirror of the Months (1925)
  • Joanna Godden Married and other Stories (1926)
  • Iron and Smoke (1928)
  • A Wedding Morn (1928)
  • The Village Doctor (1929)
  • Shepherds in Sackcloth (1930)
  • Songs Late and Early (1931)
  • Susan Spray (1931)
  • The Children’s Summer (1932)
  • The Ploughman’s Progress (1933)
  • Superstition Corner (1934)
  • Gallybird (1934)
  • Selina is Older (1935)
  • Rose Deeprose (1936)
  • Three Ways Home (1937)
  • Faithful Stranger and Other Stories (1938)
  • The Valiant Woman (1939)
  • Ember Lane (1940)
  • Tambourine, Trumpet and Drum (1943)
  • Talking of Jane Austen (1943)
  • Kitchen Fugue (1945)
  • The Lardners and the Laurelwoods (1948)
  • The Happy Tree (1949)
  • The Treasures of the Snow (1949)
  • More Talk of Jane Austen (1950)
  • Mrs. Gailey (1951)
  • The Hidden Son (1953)
  • The Weald of Kent and Sussex (1953)
  • Quartet in Heaven (1953)
  • The View from the Parsonage (1954)
  • All the Books of My Life (1956)

Snippets:
– The National Portrait Gallery’s portraits of Sheila Kaye-Smith can be seen here.
– The Sheila Kaye-Smith society was formed in 1987; find out more about it here.

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5 thoughts on “Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Sheila Kaye-Smith

  1. Wow, she wrote a lot! Sad and somewhat disturbing to think that even if you wrote 20+ books and were widely read in your lifetime, in less than 100 years no one will have heard of you (probably it will be even worse in the next 100 years, as so much more gets published today).

  2. I picked up a stack of Sheila Kaye-Smith’s books from a bargain bin and my impression is that she did what she did very well. Rural novelists aren’t for everyone, but I do think that anyone who likes them should try her work.

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