Kate Hext on the 3-volume The Women Aesthetes: British writers, 1870–1900: 'The Women Aesthetes is based on a fair assertion that the critical excavation of the women Aesthetes may have been vibrant, but it has hitherto been partial.'
Matthew Walther celebrates Elizabeth Taylor (not the movie star), author of Angel, which Hilary Mantel lists as one of her three favourite Virago Modern Classics books (the full list appeared in the Telegraph in 2013). The Telegraph has published Taylor's short story 'The Blush'.
Also in the Telegraph, here's a quotation from Alan Hollinghurst's piece on Penelope Fitzgerald, which will be included in 4th Estate's re-issue of Offshore:
In Offshore (1979) she turned to the years, her lowest and most difficult, living on an old Thames sailing barge on Battersea Reach; later, Human Voices (1980) would draw on her years of employment at the BBC during the war, and At Freddie’s (1982), her most exuberantly comic novel, on her time as a teacher at the Italia Conti stage school. Offshore too is at times very funny, though tonally it is the most mercurial of all her books.A. N. Wilson's review of Hermione Lee's Fitzgerald biography. Edward Platt on 'brilliant and mysterious' Penelope.
From 1982, Penelope Fitzgerald's review of Virago's edition of Charlotte Mew's poetry and prose.
Sameer Rahim (in the Telegraph) on Muriel Spark's novels and 'rackety life'. The Complete Review has posted a review of Spark's Ballad of Peckham Rye: 'Peculiar stuff, all of it, but with a strange appeal too.'
From Bookforum: 'In The Informed Air (New Directions, 2014), a new collection of Muriel Spark's criticism and occasional prose, Spark joins the chorus with a paean to her own cat, Bluebell.' Here's the paean 'Ailourophilia'.
Maggie Smith in Spark's Prime of Miss Jean Brody:
Elizabeth Wassell reviews the first two volumes of the Edinburgh edition of Katherine Mansfield's collected works.
Michael Schaub on Lorna Gibbs' biography of Rebecca West.
A note on Richard Mabey's biography about Flora Thompson. The bio is called Dreams of the Good Life: The Life of Flora Thompson and the Creation of Lark Rise to Candleford by Richard Mabey. A longer review, by Rachel Cooke, in the Guardian. Here's a 2008 piece on Thompson that Mabey contributed to the Guardian.
The Telegraph has an excerpt from Rebecca Mead's Road to Middlemarch: 'Eliot was absolutely convinced of her duty to instruct and enlighten. She thought a great deal about the moral effect of her works upon her readers, even if she rarely articulated her intentions in 140 characters or fewer.'
Jessica Ferri on Penelope Mortimer. From 1999, Mortimer's obituary in the Guardian. From 2011, Daphne Merkin analyzes Mortimer's novel The Pumpkin Eater.
Here's a scene from the movie version of Pumpkin Eater (1964), the screenplay for which was written by Harold Pinter, featuring Anne Bancroft and Maggie Smith:
'Leavell notes that in 1932, when Marianne [Moore] was writing her poem “The Jerboa,” she was in such an extreme psychological state that she “began saying ‘cookie dust’ with no explanation.”'
Amanda Craig on Jane Gardam's Stories: 'She is easily the equal of Katharine Mansfield, Alice Munro and Helen Simpson, but strangely obscure in this country, despite winning the Costa/Whitbread prize twice, being short-listed for both the Booker and the Orange and holding the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime contribution to the enjoyment of literature.'
Neat song, neat cars: