Thursday, May 18, 2017

HILDA HEWETT, So Early One Morning (1948)


Well, now that the Middlebrow Syllabus is complete, I can get back to some other sorts of posts. In addition to working intensely on the massively revised version of my main list (soon to be retitled, by the way), I've also been quietly proceeding with my mission to track down and read some of the most obscure titles on my TBR list. As usual, not all of them have been buried treasures—some might just as well be quietly reburied. But I'm starting off with one of the real winners.

When the last wonderful issue of The Scribbler arrived a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it contained a review about an author I had only just come across and was researching to add to my list. The review, by Sally Phillips, was about Harriet and the Cherry Pie (1963), which appeared to be the only book published by one "Clare Compton." However, when I was poking around a bit, I had already discovered that a book of the same title had appeared in the U.S. about the same time, by a Hilda Hewett. Thanks to information I had received from the redoubtable John Herrington, I was able to confirm that this was the same Hilda Hewett who had published 17 novels for adults, as well as one additional children's title, in the 1940s-1960s, and John was able to add that she was Hilda Marian Hewett, née Morley (25 Aug 1904 – 13 Dec 1991). (There must be some strange publishing logic that led to Hewett publishing this one title under a pseudonym in the U.K. but not in the U.S., but who knows what it is?)

I emailed Shirley Neilson, who publishes The Scribbler (as well as Greyladies Books), and shared this information, and there was lots of wonderful transatlantic correspondence and sharing of information with Shirley, Sally, and others. Both Shirley and I became intrigued with what we could find about Hewett's adult novels (though I'll let Shirley report on her findings in her own way), and I put the Interlibrary Loan wheels in motion and soon had So Early One Morning, the eighth of Hewett's 17 novels, in my hot little hands.

And oh my, what a lovely, lovely novel it is. It tells of a 13-year-old girl's first experience of falling in love (alas with a man far too old for her), and I immediately fell in love with it myself.

There's a blurb describing the book in the front of the edition I read, and I have to admit that my first reaction to its description of Pauline's first love with a grown man was that it seemed a bit too Lolita-ish to me—not necessarily a promising topic. Perhaps, I thought, "crush" would be more accurate? But by the end of the novel, my concerns had dissipated. Hewett was going for something more subtle and sensitive than a schoolgirl crush, and treating Pauline's feelings as real love, however unsophisticated, lent them depth and dignity.


Pauline as a narrator felt remarkably ahead of her time. She speaks to us in the cheerful, funny, sometimes poignant voice of a rather more intellectual Judy Blume heroine. It could almost pass as a modern novel set in the immediate post-war period merely to capture a historical mood. Pauline is actually speaking to us from the perspective of a few years further on, looking back at the idyllic but bittersweet summer when she was 13, the events of which she is only now really understanding. This allows her to be more eloquent and sophisticated in her narrative at times than any likely 13-year-old, and raises the book above the level of teen fiction.

The gist of the story is that Pauline dreams of being an actress, though her mother discourages her, and she often feels the emotional void left by her drama critic father's death several years before. She is spending the summer with her somewhat chilly, prudish mother, her grandmother (called Grum, to the disapproval of Pauline's mother), her step sister Philippa (called "Philip" to Pauline's "Paul"), and her fresh-air-and-exercise-obsessed Auntie Kit at a house in Sussex that Grum has rented from a mysterious friend. Philip's affection for Auntie Kit and enthusiasm for her back-to-nature obsessions leaves Pauline on her own more than usual, until Gran's godson Major Massey, a military man who seems to have had a nervous breakdown, comes to stay and Pauline helps to bring him out of his darkness by reminding him of his own childhood. In the process, Paul finds that there are considerable secrets to be unearthed about her father, her mother's dislike for the theatre, and even about the house they're staying in.

Some of the plot developments are foreseeable enough, though others are not, but what is certainly surprising is how carefully and subtly Hewett is able to evoke Pauline's development over the course of the summer and make the reader experience the dawning of her emotions firsthand. She takes her time to do this, and the novel has the leisurely pace of the summer holidays it describes, but that's what allows for such a lovely payoff in the end. There's a bit of I Capture the Castle here, and perhaps a bit of Guard Your Daughters, but it's mainly its own thing, and if anything it accomplishes its goal of sharing the experience of a girl on the verge of maturity better than either of those two favorites.


One of the subplots has to do with an opportunity to audition for a part in a new play by one of Pauline's favorite playwrights. Her logistical challenge is to convince her mother to allow her to take the part if she gets it, but the deeper challenge she takes on is to understand the teenage character she would portray, who is in love with a much older man. Although the audition itself is only a subplot, Paul's grasping at the character shows her development over just a few weeks. We progress from this passage early in the novel:

It was very odd. I went on thinking about it when I was in bed. Karen was so right in every other particular. I felt I could put her on as you put on a comfortable old shoe, but her falling in love with a man as old as her father was all wrong, like a sudden tight place that pinched in the shoe. Could Mervyn Mills have meant Karen to be a lot older, and might you do a thing like that at eighteen, I asked myself? But then, it couldn't be that because it gave Karen's age quite clearly in the stage directions.

To this passage near the end (no significant spoilers):

Life was a disappointing business, I thought sadly. Once I'd told myself that if only I could be Karen I should be perfectly happy, and here I was, utterly miserable. My thoughts went back to the beginning of it all—that idyllic afternoon at Hurstmonceaux. What was it I had thought then about life being made up of happy beginnings and sad endings? How true, how terribly true that was!

Along the way, Hewett repeatedly captures a sense of Phil's growing intellectual and sensual awareness in general, completely apart from Major Massey or emotional love.

I didn't stop for more than a passing glimpse of a big, cool hall before starting upstairs. The stairs were wide and polished and half-way up, in an angle of the staircase, I caught sight of a big blue and white vase whose cool colouring and lovely curves seemed to satisfy something in me that refuses to respond when Miss Cartwright says: "Now this is considered one of the finest lines Keats ever wrote." It's nearly always the way when you're expected to admire things, whereas when you discover a thing for yourself it's quite different.

She also has a flair for self-analysis and abstract thinking that would put Holden Caulfield in the shade. This comes out poignantly when her mother has scolded her (and perhaps traumatized her) for going swimming alone with the Major, an entirely innocent joy until her mother's anxiety casts a dark shadow across it:

I felt my cheeks bum. The palms of my hands felt sticky. Put like that it sounded somehow horrid. It hadn't been a bit like that. There'd been the sunlight dancing on the sea, the clean fresh smell of seaweed and salt water and the exhilaration of cool air on your limbs. Mummy's horrid, suggestive phrase didn't belong to the scene at all. To some extent of course, I was still a child, living in the age of innocence, but I swear that Mummy's phrase conjured up greedy eyes peering from behind tom curtains, dubious bed linen under pink-shaded lights and tom underwear trimmed with cheap lace—all that is sordid and furtive about the sexual relation. Naturally, at the time I couldn't have put anything of this into words. I didn't even begin to understand such things. I must have sensed it in the atmosphere, as even quite little children can sense sorrow or fear through words which in themselves are neither sad nor frightening.

There are so many lovely touches here I could end up quoting the whole novel to you. I could also quite easily go back and start reading the novel again from the beginning and probably notice all new things the second time around.

I think many of you would quite enjoy this book, if you're able to track down a copy. As for me, I've now ordered one of Hewett's later novels from Abe Books, and requested two more of her books from Interlibrary Loan (bless the Boston Athenaeum's little heart for so consistently being the only American source for many of the books I'm eager to find). So, you'll certainly be hearing more about Hilda Hewett!

Friday, May 12, 2017

A MIDDLEBROW SYLLABUS: the full list (in multiple forms)

It's appropriate that just as I'm coming to the end of this list, I came across a TLS piece from several months ago on the phenomenon of book lists. See here. Apart from being entertaining and informative (and despite the assurance that the ranking is more or less random) I was surprised and delighted to see their choice for #1...

At any rate, if you're coming to this list late, note that it was originally divided into ten posts, with a bit of commentary on each title. Please have a look at the first of those posts in particular, because it contains a lengthy explanation of the logic and goals of the list, without which it might be a bit bewildering (i.e. it is not a 100 "best" list). Below are links to all 10 individual sections, which in addition to my own comments often contain comments from readers with valuable suggestions of alternative books I should have chosen or additional books to be considered. I've also added all the links to each post for easy navigation:



Below, as promised, are short versions, without comments, of the complete list. I'm including three versions—ranked, alphabetical by author, and chronological by the date of each novel's first publication—because that's just how obsessive I am.

I found it particularly interesting to look at the list in chron order, which reveals a few interesting stats about the list that I hadn't considered in formulating it.

First, out of the 50 years from 1910 to 1960, the span covered by my blog, 44 are represented on the list. (This might inadvertently come in handy for bloggers doing century challenges or the like, where it's necessary to find works from a given year.) Five of those missing years fall in the first decade of my period, which is unsurprising since I know my reading and knowledge tends to focus a bit more on the later years. The other missing year, 1949, wouldn't have been missing at all if I could only have justified including The Matchmaker as my Stella Gibbons selection instead of Cold Comfort Farm, but alas…

Along the same lines, I had worried a bit about the list skewing too far toward the later years of my period, where a disproportionate amount of my reading takes me. But in fact the chron list shows that the halfway point falls in 1940, with 50 titles before and 50 titles after, so that's not too bad. And in addition to being the midway point, 1940 was, oddly (or not?), the best-represented year, with six of the titles published that year. It's probably not coincidental that that's the year that saw a rush of new fiction about the earliest days of World War II, and not yet affected by the paper shortages that would plague the publishing world later on.

If I had allowed myself, I could have continued to agonize about this list for several more months, switching out titles, raising the ranking of one book and lowering another, and generally fretting about trivial details (surely Enid Bagnold should have been in the top 20, perhaps another Ivy Compton-Burnett would have been better, etc. etc.). I could well have driven myself mad altogether and never got it posted at all. But all told I'm pleased with the results, and I hope you are too.

Thank you again for the warm reception you gave this list, and to everyone who commented, made suggestions, or provided additional information along the way!



RANKED

1) MARGHANITA LASKI, The Village (1952)
2) SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER, Lolly Willowes (1926)
3) BARBARA PYM, Excellent Women (1952)
4) E. M. DELAFIELD, Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930)
5) F. M. MAYOR, The Rector's Daughter (1924)
6) ELIZABETH TAYLOR, A Game of Hide and Seek (1951)
7) D. E. STEVENSON, Miss Buncle's Book (1934)
8) ELIZABETH BOWEN, The Heat of the Day (1948)
9) E. H. YOUNG, Miss Mole (1930)
10) DODIE SMITH, I Capture the Castle (1948)
11) DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night (1935)
12) MARGARET KENNEDY, The Feast (1950)
13) PAMELA FRANKAU, A Wreath for the Enemy (1954)
14) RUMER GODDEN, China Court (1960)
15) MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES, One Fine Day (1947)
16) JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes (1946)
17) LETTICE COOPER, The New House (1936)
18) NANCY MITFORD, The Pursuit of Love (1945)
19) ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, The Enchanted April (1922)
20) WINIFRED WATSON, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938)
21) ANNA BUCHAN (as O. Douglas), The Proper Place (1926)
22) AGATHA CHRISTIE, The Hollow (1946)
23) EVADNE PRICE (as Helen Zenna Smith), Not So Quiet… (1930, aka Stepdaughters of War)
24) JAN STRUTHER, Mrs Miniver (1939)
25) ELIZABETH ELIOT, Alice (1950)
26) ENID BAGNOLD, The Squire (1938)
27) ANGELA THIRKELL, Cheerfulness Breaks In (1940)
28) MARY CHOLMONDELEY, Red Pottage (1899)
29) STELLA GIBBONS, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)
30) WINIFRED HOLTBY, South Riding (1936)
31) DOROTHY WHIPPLE, Someone at a Distance (1953)
32) ROSE MACAULAY, The Towers of Trebizond (1956)
33) IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, A House and Its Head (1935)
34) NOEL STREATFEILD, The Winter Is Past (1940)
35) ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May (1933)
36) BARBARA COMYNS, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (1955)
37) CICELY HAMILTON, William—An Englishman (1919)
38) VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, All Passion Spent (1931)
39) RUBY FERGUSON, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary (1937)
40) MARGERY SHARP, The Nutmeg Tree (1937)
41) DIANA TUTTON, Guard Your Daughters (1953)
42) A. M. CHAMPNEYS, Miss Tiverton Goes Out (1925)
43) NGAIO MARSH, Surfeit of Lampreys (1940, aka Death of a Peer)
44) ROSAMOND LEHMANN, Invitation to the Waltz (1932)
45) EDITH NESBIT, The Lark (1922)
46) KATE O'BRIEN, The Land of Spices (1941)
47) SYBILLE BEDFORD, A Favourite of the Gods (1963)
48) NORAH LOFTS, The Town House (1959)
49) WINIFRED PECK, Bewildering Cares (1940)
50) MARGERY ALLINGHAM, The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
51) MARY RENAULT, The Friendly Young Ladies (1943)
52) DAPHNE DU MAURIER, Rebecca (1938)
53) EDITH OLIVIER, The Love-Child (1927)
54) MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
55) BRYHER, Beowulf (1956)
56) JANE & MARY FINDLATER, Crossriggs (1908)
57) REBECCA WEST, The Return of the Soldier (1918)
58) DORA SAINT (as Miss Read), Thrush Green (1959)
59) JOSEPHINE ELDER, The Encircled Heart (1951)
60) SHEILA KAYE-SMITH, Joanna Godden (1921)
61) F. TENNYSON JESSE, The Lacquer Lady (1929)
62) OLIVIA MANNING, The Great Fortune (1960)
63) SUSAN TWEEDSMUIR, Cousin Harriet (1957)
64) JEAN RHYS, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
65) RICHMAL CROMPTON, Family Roundabout (1948)
66) DAISY ASHFORD, The Young Visiters (1919)
67) ANN BRIDGE, Peking Picnic (1932)
68) ADA LEVERSON, Love's Shadow (1908)
69) GEORGETTE HEYER, The Grand Sophy (1950)
70) RACHEL FERGUSON, Evenfield (1942)
71) STELLA BENSON, Living Alone (1919)
72) ROSE ALLATINI (as A. T. Fitzroy), Despised and Rejected (1918)
73) AMBER REEVES, A Lady and Her Husband (1914)
74) JANE DUNCAN, My Friend Muriel (1959)
75) MARY BELL, Summer's Day (1951)
76) NAOMI MITCHISON, The Bull Calves (1947)
77) GLADYS MITCHELL, When Last I Died (1941)
78) SUSAN ERTZ, Madame Claire (1923)
79) JOANNA CANNAN, Princes in the Land (1938)
80) G. B. STERN, The Matriarch (1924, aka Tents of Israel)
81) DOROTHY EVELYN SMITH, Miss Plum and Miss Penny (1959)
82) BETTY MILLER, On the Side of the Angels (1945)
83) MONICA DICKENS, Mariana (1940)
84) LEONORA CARRINGTON, The Hearing Trumpet (1974)
85) STORM JAMESON, Company Parade (1934)
86) ELIZABETH CADELL, The Lark Shall Sing (1955)
87) E. ARNOT ROBERTSON, Ordinary Families (1933)
88) HELEN ASHTON, Bricks and Mortar (1932)
89) ELIZABETH GOUDGE, The Bird in the Tree (1940)
90) RADCLYFFE HALL, The Well of Loneliness (1928)
91) ELIZABETH JENKINS, The Tortoise and the Hare (1954)
92) NORAH HOULT, There Were No Windows (1944)
93) MARY STEWART, Nine Coaches Waiting (1958)
94) MOLLY KEANE (as M. J. Farrell), Full House (1935)
95) MARY WEBB, Precious Bane (1924)
96) CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women (1917)
97) VIOLET TREFUSIS, Hunt the Slipper (1937)
98) RUTH ADAM, I'm Not Complaining (1938)
99) CELIA BUCKMASTER, Village Story (1951)
100) ELINOR MORDAUNT, The Family (1915)



ALPHABETICAL BY AUTHOR

RUTH ADAM, I'm Not Complaining (1938) (#98)
ROSE ALLATINI (as A. T. Fitzroy), Despised and Rejected (1918) (#72)
MARGERY ALLINGHAM, The Tiger in the Smoke (1952) (#50)
DAISY ASHFORD, The Young Visiters (1919) (#66)
HELEN ASHTON, Bricks and Mortar (1932) (#88)
ENID BAGNOLD, The Squire (1938) (#26)
SYBILLE BEDFORD, A Favourite of the Gods (1963) (#47)
MARY BELL, Summer's Day (1951) (#75)
STELLA BENSON, Living Alone (1919) (#71)
ELIZABETH BOWEN, The Heat of the Day (1948) (#8)
ANN BRIDGE, Peking Picnic (1932) (#67)
BRYHER, Beowulf (1956) (#55)
ANNA BUCHAN (as O. Douglas), The Proper Place (1926) (#21)
CELIA BUCKMASTER, Village Story (1951) (#99)
ELIZABETH CADELL, The Lark Shall Sing (1955) (#86)
JOANNA CANNAN, Princes in the Land (1938) (#79)
LEONORA CARRINGTON, The Hearing Trumpet (1974) (#84)
A. M. CHAMPNEYS, Miss Tiverton Goes Out (1925) (#42)
MARY CHOLMONDELEY, Red Pottage (1899) (#28)
AGATHA CHRISTIE, The Hollow (1946) (#22)
IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, A House and Its Head (1935) (#33)
BARBARA COMYNS, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (1955) (#36)
LETTICE COOPER, The New House (1936) (#17)
RICHMAL CROMPTON, Family Roundabout (1948) (#65)
CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women (1917) (#96)
E. M. DELAFIELD, Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930) (#4)
MONICA DICKENS, Mariana (1940) (#83)
DAPHNE DU MAURIER, Rebecca (1938) (#52)
JANE DUNCAN, My Friend Muriel (1959) (#74)
JOSEPHINE ELDER, The Encircled Heart (1951) (#59)
ELIZABETH ELIOT, Alice (1950) (#25)
SUSAN ERTZ, Madame Claire (1923) (#78)
RACHEL FERGUSON, Evenfield (1942) (#70)
RUBY FERGUSON, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary (1937) (#39)
JANE & MARY FINDLATER, Crossriggs (1908) (#56)
PAMELA FRANKAU, A Wreath for the Enemy (1954) (#13)
STELLA GIBBONS, Cold Comfort Farm (1932) (#29)
RUMER GODDEN, China Court (1960) (#14)
ELIZABETH GOUDGE, The Bird in the Tree (1940) (#89)
RADCLYFFE HALL, The Well of Loneliness (1928) (#90)
CICELY HAMILTON, William—An Englishman (1919) (#37)
GEORGETTE HEYER, The Grand Sophy (1950) (#69)
WINIFRED HOLTBY, South Riding (1936) (#30)
NORAH HOULT, There Were No Windows (1944) (#92)
STORM JAMESON, Company Parade (1934) (#85)
ELIZABETH JENKINS, The Tortoise and the Hare (1954) (#91)
F. TENNYSON JESSE, The Lacquer Lady (1929) (#61)
SHEILA KAYE-SMITH, Joanna Godden (1921) (#60)
MOLLY KEANE (as M. J. Farrell), Full House (1935) (#94)
MARGARET KENNEDY, The Feast (1950) (#12)
MARGHANITA LASKI, The Village (1952) (#1)
ROSAMOND LEHMANN, Invitation to the Waltz (1932) (#44)
ADA LEVERSON, Love's Shadow (1908) (#68)
NORAH LOFTS, The Town House (1959) (#48)
ROSE MACAULAY, The Towers of Trebizond (1956) (#32)
OLIVIA MANNING, The Great Fortune (1960) (#62)
NGAIO MARSH, Surfeit of Lampreys (1940, aka Death of a Peer) (#43)
F. M. MAYOR, The Rector's Daughter (1924) (#5)
BETTY MILLER, On the Side of the Angels (1945) (#82)
GLADYS MITCHELL, When Last I Died (1941) (#77)
NAOMI MITCHISON, The Bull Calves (1947) (#76)
NANCY MITFORD, The Pursuit of Love (1945) (#18)
ELINOR MORDAUNT, The Family (1915) (#100)
EDITH NESBIT, The Lark (1922) (#45)
KATE O'BRIEN, The Land of Spices (1941) (#46)
EDITH OLIVIER, The Love-Child (1927) (#53)
MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES, One Fine Day (1947) (#15)
WINIFRED PECK, Bewildering Cares (1940) (#49)
EVADNE PRICE (as Helen Zenna Smith), Not So Quiet… (1930, aka Stepdaughters of War) (#23)
BARBARA PYM, Excellent Women (1952) (#3)
AMBER REEVES, A Lady and Her Husband (1914) (#73)
MARY RENAULT, The Friendly Young Ladies (1943) (#51)
JEAN RHYS, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (#64)
E. ARNOT ROBERTSON, Ordinary Families (1933) (#87)
VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, All Passion Spent (1931) (#38)
DORA SAINT (as Miss Read), Thrush Green (1959) (#58)
DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night (1935) (#11)
MARGERY SHARP, The Nutmeg Tree (1937) (#40)
DODIE SMITH, I Capture the Castle (1948) (#10)
DOROTHY EVELYN SMITH, Miss Plum and Miss Penny (1959) (#81)
MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) (#54)
G. B. STERN, The Matriarch (1924, aka Tents of Israel) (#80)
D. E. STEVENSON, Miss Buncle's Book (1934) (#7)
MARY STEWART, Nine Coaches Waiting (1958) (#93)
NOEL STREATFEILD, The Winter Is Past (1940) (#34)
JAN STRUTHER, Mrs Miniver (1939) (#24)
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, A Game of Hide and Seek (1951) (#6)
JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes (1946) (#16)
ANGELA THIRKELL, Cheerfulness Breaks In (1940) (#27)
VIOLET TREFUSIS, Hunt the Slipper (1937) (#97)
DIANA TUTTON, Guard Your Daughters (1953) (#41)
SUSAN TWEEDSMUIR, Cousin Harriet (1957) (#63)
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, The Enchanted April (1922) (#19)
SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER, Lolly Willowes (1926) (#2)
WINIFRED WATSON, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938) (#20)
MARY WEBB, Precious Bane (1924) (#95)
REBECCA WEST, The Return of the Soldier (1918) (#57)
DOROTHY WHIPPLE, Someone at a Distance (1953) (#31)
ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May (1933) (#35)
E. H. YOUNG, Miss Mole (1930) (#9)



CHRONOLOGICAL BY PUBLICATION DATE

1899
MARY CHOLMONDELEY, Red Pottage

1908
JANE & MARY FINDLATER, Crossriggs
ADA LEVERSON, Love's Shadow

1914
AMBER REEVES, A Lady and Her Husband

1915
ELINOR MORDAUNT, The Family

1917
CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women

1918
ROSE ALLATINI (as A. T. Fitzroy), Despised and Rejected
REBECCA WEST, The Return of the Soldier (1918)

1919
DAISY ASHFORD, The Young Visiters
STELLA BENSON, Living Alone
CICELY HAMILTON, William—An Englishman

1921
SHEILA KAYE-SMITH, Joanna Godden

1922
EDITH NESBIT, The Lark
ELIZABETH VON ARNIM, The Enchanted April

1923
SUSAN ERTZ, Madame Claire

1924
F. M. MAYOR, The Rector's Daughter
G. B. STERN, The Matriarch (aka Tents of Israel)
MARY WEBB, Precious Bane

1925
A. M. CHAMPNEYS, Miss Tiverton Goes Out

1926
ANNA BUCHAN (as O. Douglas), The Proper Place
SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER, Lolly Willowes

1927
EDITH OLIVIER, The Love-Child

1928
RADCLYFFE HALL, The Well of Loneliness

1929
F. TENNYSON JESSE, The Lacquer Lady

1930
E. M. DELAFIELD, Diary of a Provincial Lady
EVADNE PRICE (as Helen Zenna Smith), Not So Quiet… (aka Stepdaughters of War)
E. H. YOUNG, Miss Mole

1931
VITA SACKVILLE-WEST, All Passion Spent

1932
HELEN ASHTON, Bricks and Mortar
ANN BRIDGE, Peking Picnic
STELLA GIBBONS, Cold Comfort Farm
ROSAMOND LEHMANN, Invitation to the Waltz

1933
E. ARNOT ROBERTSON, Ordinary Families
ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May

1934
STORM JAMESON, Company Parade
D. E. STEVENSON, Miss Buncle's Book

1935
IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, A House and Its Head
MOLLY KEANE (as M. J. Farrell), Full House
DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night

1936
LETTICE COOPER, The New House
WINIFRED HOLTBY, South Riding

1937
RUBY FERGUSON, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary
MARGERY SHARP, The Nutmeg Tree
VIOLET TREFUSIS, Hunt the Slipper

1938
RUTH ADAM, I'm Not Complaining
ENID BAGNOLD, The Squire
JOANNA CANNAN, Princes in the Land
DAPHNE DU MAURIER, Rebecca
WINIFRED WATSON, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

1939
JAN STRUTHER, Mrs Miniver

1940
ELIZABETH GOUDGE, The Bird in the Tree
MONICA DICKENS, Mariana
NGAIO MARSH, Surfeit of Lampreys (aka Death of a Peer)
WINIFRED PECK, Bewildering Cares
NOEL STREATFEILD, The Winter Is Past
ANGELA THIRKELL, Cheerfulness Breaks In

1941
GLADYS MITCHELL, When Last I Died
KATE O'BRIEN, The Land of Spices

1942
RACHEL FERGUSON, Evenfield

1943
MARY RENAULT, The Friendly Young Ladies

1944
NORAH HOULT, There Were No Windows

1945
BETTY MILLER, On the Side of the Angels
NANCY MITFORD, The Pursuit of Love

1946
AGATHA CHRISTIE, The Hollow
JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes

1947
NAOMI MITCHISON, The Bull Calves
MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES, One Fine Day

1948
ELIZABETH BOWEN, The Heat of the Day
RICHMAL CROMPTON, Family Roundabout
DODIE SMITH, I Capture the Castle

1950
ELIZABETH ELIOT, Alice
GEORGETTE HEYER, The Grand Sophy
MARGARET KENNEDY, The Feast

1951
MARY BELL, Summer's Day
CELIA BUCKMASTER, Village Story
JOSEPHINE ELDER, The Encircled Heart
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, A Game of Hide and Seek

1952
MARGERY ALLINGHAM, The Tiger in the Smoke
MARGHANITA LASKI, The Village
BARBARA PYM, Excellent Women

1953
DIANA TUTTON, Guard Your Daughters
DOROTHY WHIPPLE, Someone at a Distance

1954
PAMELA FRANKAU, A Wreath for the Enemy
ELIZABETH JENKINS, The Tortoise and the Hare

1955
ELIZABETH CADELL, The Lark Shall Sing
BARBARA COMYNS, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead

1956
BRYHER, Beowulf
ROSE MACAULAY, The Towers of Trebizond

1957
SUSAN TWEEDSMUIR, Cousin Harriet

1958
MARY STEWART, Nine Coaches Waiting

1959
JANE DUNCAN, My Friend Muriel
NORAH LOFTS, The Town House
DORA SAINT (as Miss Read), Thrush Green
DOROTHY EVELYN SMITH, Miss Plum and Miss Penny

1960
RUMER GODDEN, China Court
OLIVIA MANNING, The Great Fortune

1961
MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

1963
SYBILLE BEDFORD, A Favourite of the Gods

1966
JEAN RHYS, Wide Sargasso Sea

1974
LEONORA CARRINGTON, The Hearing Trumpet
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