It was entirely unintentional that all of the authors I have put forward for this week’s Underrated Novelists compilation are women, but so it goes. Ursula Orange is my fifth and final choice in this showcase; she has recently been reprinted by Dean Street Press, but still seems relatively unknown.
Ursula Orange (1909-1955)
Very little is known about Ursula Orange. She was born in 1909 to Hugh William Orange, who received a knighthood for his contributions to education in India. She married Dennis Tindall, with whom she gave birth to a daughter, the novelist Gillian Tindall, who has suggested that her mother committed suicide. Orange worked as an assistant secretary for the British Poetry Society.
– Begin Again (1936)
– To Sea in a Sieve (1937)
– Tom Tiddler’s Ground (1941)
– Have Your Cake (1942)
– Company in the Evening (1944)
– Portrait of Adrian (1945)
Book to begin with: Begin Again
‘Oxford, it appeared, if it did not seem to have fitted her for any precise occupation, had at least unfitted her for a great many things. In her charming and incisive debut novel, Ursula Orange focuses her sharp eye on four young women only recently down from Oxford. Jane and Florence live in London, working at office jobs, the latter channelling her excess energy into a dreadfully earnest novel of her own. Sylvia remains at home, shocking her family with theories of sexual and social liberation. And Leslie, as the novel opens, idealizes the other three, as she tries to convince her mother to let her use her small nest egg to attend art school in London. As the four friends balance their youthful ideals with the realities of work and romance in 1930s England, Orange offers hilarious and thoughtful perspectives on the quandaries of educated, ambitious women in a world not yet ready for them. ‘