Charlotte Mew and Her Friends

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9780002170086: Charlotte Mew and Her Friends

Penelope Fitzgerald's fascinating portrait of Bloomsbury's saddest poet. Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) was a poet with a formidable reputation who, as Virginia Woolf put it, was 'very good and interesting and unlike anyone else' and who wrote some of the best English poems of the twentieth century. In her private life, to all appearances, she was a dutiful daughter living at home with a monster of an old mother. The proprieties had to be observed and no one must know that the Mews had no money, that two siblings were insane and that Charlotte was a secret lesbian, living a life of self-inflicted frustration. Despite literary success and a passionate, enchanting personality, eventually the conflicts within her drove her to despair, and she killed herself by swallowing household disinfectant. In this unexpectedly gripping portrait, Penelope Fitzgerald brings all her novelist's skills into play, giving us what Victoria Glendinning calls a 'tantalising, touching story...an entire life's emotional history in a short space'.

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Product Description:

Penelope Fitzgerald's fascinating portrait of the tragic poet and her life at the heart of the Bloomsbury set. Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) cut one of the most distinctive figures of the twentieth century - beloved of Siegfried Sassoon and Walter de la Mare (for whom she was 'a very rare being'), unafraid of Virginia Woolf, and considered by Hardy to be 'far and away the best living woman poet'. Part of a new wave of fashionable female dandies who lived passionate, precarious existences in Bloomsbury, she was an enchanting and spirited personality. But behind the brave face was a life riddled with grief: left to care for her disturbed mother, two siblings with undiagnosed Schizophrenia and Charlotte herself burdened by depression and closeted lesbianism; she killed herself by drinking household disinfectant. In this unexpectedly gripping portrait of a life of passion unfulfilled, Penelope Fitzgerald brings all her novelist's skills into play in telling a story that is at once tragic, beautiful and deeply human.

About the Author:

Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most elegant and distinctive voices in British fiction. Three of her novels, The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the Prize in 1979 for Offshore. Her last novel, The Blue Flower, was the most admired novel of 1995, chosen no fewer than nineteen times in the press as the 'Book of the Year'. It won America's National Book Critics' Circle Award. She died in April 2000, at the age of eighty-three.

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