Mary Webb and Ivy Compton-Burnett Revivals of the Fittest

Becca Anderson, author of The Book of Awesome Women Writers, has written a new blog post on the revivals of authors Mary Webb and Ivy Compton-Burnett.

Diehard fans of all kinds of authors are filling the internet with their passions, resulting in revivals of a number of writers. Two such women are Britain’s Mary Webb and Ivy Compton-Burnett. Webb (1881–1927) is the author of the mystical novels Precious Bane (which won the 1924 Prix Femina Vie Heureuse) and Gone to Earth, among others. Hailed as a genius by Rebecca West, she remains relatively unknown today, although after her death, Britain’s Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin acclaimed her work.

Ivy Compton-Burnett is another figure worthy of book lovers’ attention. Born in 1884, she began writing in her forties and penned a series of cool, witty, and ironic novels that sold well through World War II. But unlike her contemporaries Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, and James Joyce, she is not widely read these days, which is a shame, for she is hailed by critics. In 1996, A.N. Wilson listed in the Evening Standard the hundred books that everyone should read, and Ivy’s More Women Than Men came right after Pride and Prejudice among only twenty English novels.

When her first novel, Pastors and Masters, appeared, the New Statesman proclaimed, “It is astonishing, amazing. It is like nothing else in the world. It is a work of genius.” She was well regarded in avant-garde circles, with her work hailed as “the closest it was possible to come to post-impressionism in fiction,” writes her biographer Hilary Spurling. Though avant-garde as a writer, she “dressed and behaved more like a Victorian governess,” says Spurling, using Victorian trappings as a “protective cover behind which her penetrating subversive intelligence might operate unsuspected, freely and without constraints.”

If you would like to join in on the Compton-Burnett revival, go to: www. brightlightsfilm.com/ivy/


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Medieval Mystics, Pioneering Poets, Fierce Feminists and First Ladies of Literature (Feminist Book, Gift for Women, Gift for Writers)

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