Neglected Women Writers’ Month: The Extras

Since I found scheduling posts for my original Neglected Women Writers’ Month in April of this year so fascinating, I thought that I would extend the project and make August the second month in which I focus on overlooked or neglected female authors.  Whilst I have rather a long list of women who fit the bill beside me, I can draw up very little information on any of them, aside from sparse biographical details and the odd bibliography.  I thought that this would make for rather a dull month of blogging, both for myself and for you, my lovely readers, so I have compiled a little list of the women whom I did not have the space to fit into the original posts during April.  If I know of any of their books, I will, of course, write their titles beside the author.

  • Marjorie Alan (Masked Murder, a crime novel), Alice Maud Allen (Silhouette), Verily Anderson (Spam Tomorrow), Alice Askew (Nurse), J.O. Arnold (Megan of the Dark Isle and The Merlewood Mystery)


    Julia Birley

  • Joy Baines (Wife to Hugo and Seventh Sin), Kitty Barre (Visitors from London), Pamela Barrington (Cage Without Bars), Elizabeth BerridgeChristabel Bielenberg, Julia Birley, Elizabeth Bonham, Nina Boyce, Beatrice Curtis Brown, J.E. Buckrose
  • E.M. ChannonHester ChapmanMarchette ChuteMolly Clavering, Joan CogginH.H. ColvilleDorothy Cowlin, Mary Crosbie
  • Lucy DaleEdith DartEilis DillonValentine DobreKatherine Dunning
  • Helen EdmistonJosephine ElderMargaret Erskine
  • Elizabeth Fagan, Kathleen FarrettFrances

    Theodora Fitzgibbon

    FaviellSheila FitzgeraldTheodora FitzgibbonJean FlemingAngela ForbesCelia Fremlin

  • Olive GarnettEleanor Hughes GibbMaude Goldring
  • Evelyn Hose
  • Margaret Iles
  • Cicely Fraser Simon


Have you read books by any of these women?  Can you enlighten me with any further information about them?


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Ethel Mannin

Novelist and travel writer Ethel Mannin (1900-1984) was popular in her lifetime.  Born in London to an Irish family, her father, a member of the Socialist League, passed his left-wing beliefs to her.

manninHer writing career began in the fields of journalism and copywriting, and her memoir of the 1920s, Confessions and Impressions, was published as one of the first Penguin paperbacks.  Ethel Mannin came to support anarchism, and was also involved with anti-imperialist activity during the 1930s on behalf of the African nations.  In her seventies, she still described herself as an anti-monarchist Republican, and a ‘Tolstoyan anarchist’.  She married twice, had one daughter, a publicised affair with Bertrand Russell, and was the long-time chairwoman of Shrewsbury Town FC.

“I am purely evil;
Hear the thrum
of my evil engine;
Evilly I come.
The stars are thick as flowers
In the meadows of July;
A fine night for murder
Winging through the sky.”
(From ‘Song of the Bomber’)

Ethel Mannin’s extensive bibliography can be found here.

– Sheffield Hallam’s Reading 1900-1950 project tackles Mannin’s 1930 work Confessions and Impressions.
The Neglected Books Page write more about Mannin’s fascinating life here.
Here is a fascinating essay by the Morris Society about the Morrisian emphasis upon her work.


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Annie Vivanti Chartres

Annie Vivanti (Chartres) was a London-born Italian writer, and lived between 1866 and 1942.  She was the daughter of an Italian exile and a German writer, and spent her childhood in Italy, England, Switzerland, and the United States. Annie_vivanti_1.jpg

With two books already under her belt, in 1882, Annie married the Anglo-Irish journalist John Chartres, and spent the next eighteen years living in England and the States.  Her most famous novel written during this period, 1910’s The Devourers, was based upon her daughter, Vivien, a violin prodigy.  Vivanti was a supporter of Irish independence, and defended the Italian cause in English newspapers during the First World War.  In 1941, she was placed under house arrest in Italy due to her English connections, and died the next year in Turin.

“They belonged to another sphere.  They had come up the wrong street, into the wrong house.  If they could have life and motion they would rise quickly – Nancy could imagine them – lifting dainty skirts and tripping hurriedly out from the sordid flat.”
(From The Devourers)


  • The Devourers, novel (1910)
  • Circe, novel (1912)
  • Marie Tarnowska, novel (1915)

– A free ebook of The Devourers can be found at Project Gutenberg.
– Read about the intertwined lives of Annie Vivanti Chartres and her daughter Vivien here.


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Romer Wilson

Born Florence Roma Muir Wilson, Girton College-educated Romer Wilson had a tragically short life.  She was born in Sheffield in 1891, and died of tuberculosis in Lausanne in January 1930, at the age of thirty eight.  In 1921, Romer was the recipient of the Hawthornden Prize for her novel entitled The Death of Society.


s-l300During the First World War, Romer sold potatoes for the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and began to write her first novel, Martin Schuler, which was published in 1919.  Along with several other works of fiction, Romer was also the author of a biography of Emily Bronte.

“She seemed determined to be human also; to like people, even though they were stupid.”
(Virginia Woolf on Amber Reeves)


  • Martin Schüler (1919)
  • If All These Young Men (1919)
  • The Death of Society (1921)
  • The Grand Tour of Alphonse Marichaud (1923)
  • Dragon’s Blood (pre-1926)
  • Greenlow (1927)
  • The Social Climbers (1927)
  • Latterday Symphony (1927)
  • All Alone: The Life and Private History of Emily Jane Brontë (1928)
  • Green Magic (1928)
  • The Hill of Cloves (1929)
  • Red Magic (1930)

– Read an archived Spectator review from May 1923 about Wilson’s work here.
– Thoughts on Romer Wilson’s work on the Neglected Books Page can be found here.


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Elizabeth Cambridge

Elizabeth Cambridge was born Barbara K. Webber in 1893, in Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire.  Much of her childhood was spent in Plymouth and Westgate-on-Sea and, like many privileged girls of her generation, she was sent to finishing school in Paris.

elizabeth_cambridge_1Working under the pseudonym Elizabeth Cambridge, Barbara published her first collection of short stories at the age of seventeen.  Before her marriage to Dr. G.M. Hodges, she worked as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse.  After the birth of three children, she turned to writing again in 1930, and the only of her novels currently in print, Hostages to Fortune, was published in 1933.  She wrote five further novels, which I have been unable to find any information about.

“She seemed determined to be human also; to like people, even though they were stupid.”
(Virginia Woolf on Amber Reeves)

– Some wonderful reviews of Hostages to Fortune have been written by Harriet Lane, Lady in the Dark, and the lovely HeavenAli.


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Amber Reeves

Amber Reeves was perhaps most famous for her relationship with H.G. Wells, but her life in itself was fascinating.  Born in New Zealand in July 1887, the eldest child of Fabian feminist Maud Pember Reeves, and William Pember Reeves, the politician and social reformer.


Amber Reeves with daughter Anna-Jane

The family moved to England when Amber was nine, and she saw it as ‘hateful after New Zealand…  No freedom.  No seashore.  Streets, streets, streets.  Houses, houses.’  She studied at Newnham College, Cambridge, and founded the Cambridge University Fabian Society in 1906, where both sexes met as equals.  Amber Reeves bore a daughter, Anna-Jane, in December 1909; she did not learn that H.G. Wells was her father until she was eighteen years old.  Her career involved both politics and teaching, and she died in London in December 1981, after being admitted to hospital in St John’s Wood.

All of her work – four novels and four volumes of non-fiction – shares a common feminist and socialist critique of capitalism.

“She seemed determined to be human also; to like people, even though they were stupid.”
(Virginia Woolf on Amber Reeves)


  • The Reward of Virtue (1911)
  • A Lady and her Husband (1914)
  • Helen in Love (1916)
  • Give and Take: A Novel of Intrigue (1923)
  • The Nationalisation of Banking (1934)
  • The New Propaganda (1938)
  • Worry in Women (1941)
  • Ethics for Unbelievers (1949)


– Margaret Drabble’s discussion of Amber Reeves as a feminist author can be found here.
– An interesting review of A Man of Parts by David Lodge, which focuses upon H.G. Wells, can be read here.


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Elizabeth Robins Pennell

Born in 1855 and raised in Philadelphia, Elizabeth Robins Pennell settled in London as an adult, and moved back to the States towards the end of the First World War.  She and her husband settled in New York City, and following his death, she moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, where she died in 1936.


Sketch of Elizabeth Robins Pennell by her husband, Joseph

Elizabeth Robins Pennell led an exciting life, and has been described as ‘an adventurous, accomplished, self-assured, well-known columnist, biographer, cookbook collector, and art critic’.  She was a prolific author, her work spanning a wealth of genres, and also penned travelogues, lives of authors, and explorations into art, amongst others.  She was passionate about cycle tourism, and she and her husband acquired a tandem cycle, with which they rode to Canterbury to pay homage to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

“Banish the onion from the kitchen and the pleasure flies with it.”

A full bibliography of her work, along with links to many of the works, can be found here.  (NB. Unfortunately, Wikipedia seemed to be the best source to link to; I can only apologise.)

– Images from the Library of Congress’ Joseph and Elizabeth Robins Pennell collection can be viewed here.
Here, Cynthia D. Bertelsen writes of ‘The Long, Delicious Shelf Life of Elizabeth Robins Pennell.
– A bibliography of Elizabeth Robins Pennell’s cookbook collection can be found here.


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.”


  • 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)

– 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.


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Mary Borden

Mary Borden, known to her family as May, lived between 1886 and 1968, and was an Anglo-American novelist.

NPG Ax136090; Mary Borden, Lady Spears by Howard Coster

by Howard Coster, vintage bromide print, 1931

Born into a wealthy family in Chicago, Mary attended Vassar College, graduating in 1907 with a Bachelors Degree.  Whilst on a tour of the Far East, she met and married the Scottish missionary George Douglas Turner, and the couple had three daughters – Joyce, Comfort, and Mary – between 1909 and 1914.

After the move back to England, Mary joined the Suffrage movement, and spent five days in a police cell for throwing a stone through the window of Her Majesty’s Treasury.  At the outbreak of the First World War, Mary used a considerable amount of her own money to staff and equip a field hospital close to the Front, serving there as a nurse from 1915.  She met her second husband, Brigadier General Spears here.  She used her wartime experience to fuel many short stories and novels.  Her poems were slow to be recognised.

“This is the song of the mud,
The pale yellow glistening mud that covers the hills like satin;
The grey gleaming silvery mud that is spread like enamel over the valleys;
The frothing, squirting, spurting, liquid mud that gurgles along the road beds;
The thick elastic mud that is kneaded and pounded and squeezed under the hoofs of the horses;
The invincible, inexhaustible mud of the war zone.”
(From ‘At the Somme: The Song of the Mud’)


  • Three Pilgrims and a Tinker (1924)
  • Flamingo (1927)
  • Four O’clock (1927)
  • The Forbidden Zone (1929)
  • Jehovah’s Day (1929)
  • A Woman with White Eyes (1930)
  • Sarah Gay (1931)
  • Action for Slander (1937)
  • Journey Down a Blind Alley (1946)
  • You, the Jury (1952)
  • Poems of Love and War (2015)

– An interesting, fuller biography of Mary Borden can be found here.
– One of her drawings, and another of her poems, can be found at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
– A wonderful review of The Forbidden Zone can be found via dovegreyreader’s blog.


Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Maud Diver

Maud Diver, born Katherine Helen Maud Marshall in 1867, lived in British India.  She published novels, short stories, biographies, and journalistic pieces which centred around Indian topics, and the experience of Englishmen in the country.

hmd maud  089

Maud Diver

Maud grew up in both India and Ceylon, but was educated in England.  She was great friends with Trix Fleming, the sister of Rudyard Kipling, and married the officer Thomas Diver around 1896.  The couple moved to England, and had a son.

Maud published her first novel, Captain Desmond, VC, in 1907, which, along with several subsequent books, found itself upon bestseller lists.  Through her novels, she aimed to educate men on the best ways in which to live in India, encompassing such information as mixed marriages as a way to bring the East and West together.

“East and West are not antagonistic, but complementary: heart and head, thought and action, woman and man. Between all these ‘pairs of opposites’ fusion is rare, difficult, yet eminently possible. Why not, then, between East and West?”


  • Captain Desmond, V.C. (novel, 1907)
  • The Great Amulet (novel, 1908)
  • Candles in the Wind (1909)
  • The Englishwoman in India (non-fiction, 1909)
  • Lilamani. A Study in Possibilities (1911)
  • Sunia: and other stories (1913)
  • The Judgment of the Sword. The tale of the Kabul tragedy, and of the part played therein by Major Eldred Pottinger, the hero of Herat (1913)
  • The Hero of Herat : A Frontier Biography in Romantic form (1915)
  • Desmond’s Daughter (1916)
  • Unconquered: a romance (1917)
  • Strange Roads (1918)
  • The Strong Hours (1919)
  • Far to seek. A romance of England and India (1921)
  • Lonely Furrow (1923)
  • Siege Perilous, and other stories (1924)
  • Coombe St. Mary’s (1925)
  • But Yesterday- (1927)
  • Together (1928)
  • A Wild Bird (1929)
  • Ships of Youth: a study of marriage in modern India (1931)
  • The Singer Passes: an Indian tapestry (1934)
  • Kabul to Kandahar (1935)
  • Honoria Lawrence : a fragment of Indian history (1936)
  • The Dream Prevails (1938)
  • Sylvia Lyndon. A novel of England (1940)
  • Royal India. A descriptive and historical study of India’s fifteen principal states and their rulers (1942)
  • The Unsung. A record of British services in India (1945)

– The Book Show’s discussion, ‘Maud Diver: lost gem of the British Raj’, can be found here.
Here, you can find an interesting essay by Loretta M. Mijares, entitled ‘Distancing the Proximate Other: Hybridity and Maud Diver’s Candles in the Wind.