Friday, June 9, 2017

A thoroughly revamped (and renamed) list

It's been just over a year since the last update of my main list. Since January, I have been quietly but intently working on a major revision and expansion of the list, which also includes a new title. What has hitherto been known as "The Overwhelming List" has now morphed into "British Women Writers of Fiction 1910-1960". I decided it was time for the list to be called something more precise, if also a bit more mundane. This new list is linked from the left column of the blog, and there's also a new PDF version available on each section of the list.

Those familiar with previous versions of this list may also note that the more precise title has led me to eliminate the relatively small number of diarists and memoirists who had been rather randomly included before. There turned out to be about 50 of those authors, and they have now been removed, but I will eventually be posting them in a "list of their own". Of course, this applies only to authors who only wrote diaries or memoirs; those who wrote fiction as well are still included. Since the diarists and memoirists who were included were in no way comprehensive, it had come to seem that, interesting as their work is, they didn't really belong in the main list.

To make up for those removals, I've also added about 60 new authors, and I'll be introducing those in four future posts over the next couple of weeks, complete with as many enticing dustjacket pics as I've been able to track down.

The main thing you'll notice in the new edition of the list is that many of the entries have been greatly expanded (the PDF version nearly doubled in length until I shrank the fonts and expanded the margins, and even so it weighs in at a still-overwhelming 418 pages). When I initially created and began adding to the list, I was fairly aggressive in limiting the length of each entry to just the bare bones, but it was always my hope that one day I would have time to go back and really flesh it out. This list is the only online source for information about many of the more obscure authors included, so I wanted to share everything I had. For better known authors, of course, I can't possibly include everything that's known, but I have tried to include all the major facts and points of interest.

One more inspiration for thus expanding the list was my book shopping orgy in the U.K. last October, during which I several times had to consult my list to remember who an author was and whether I just had to have her books or not. There were several occasions when I knew I had more substantial information about an author sitting in my giant database on our home computer, but I couldn't access it there. It was frustrating and tantalizing, and I decided it was time to make as much of the information I have as possible public and readily accessible here.

You'll also see a few changes in formatting and in the information included on the list. I've added complete life and death dates where available. I've also placed last names first, in keeping with the format of most reference works. In addition, I've fleshed out authors' full names when I have them, while still trying to reflect the shortened names they may have published under. I've used parentheses to reflect the complete form of a nickname or shortened name that was used for writing, and brackets to reflect middle or other legal names which an author didn't use for their publications. An example:


This entry for novelist and children's author Kitty Barne (the name she published under) also reflects that her full formal name was Marion Catherine Barne.

I've also continued to use brackets to show full names for authors who used only initials on their books, as with this example:


In a few cases where the names are particularly complicated, I've left a fuller explanation either in a parenthetical second line or in the text of the author's entry.

There are a number of instances in which master researcher John Herrington has been able to trace authors in the public records with a fair degree of certainty but without any absolute proof that the person he's located is the author. In those cases, I've used question marks to precede each bit of information that can't be verified and have added an "uncertain but probable identification" note. In a few other cases where the situation is more complex but the pieces of information might provide clues to future researchers, I've included a summary of what John found within the author's entry.

I've added a "dates active" line for each author, which specifies the decades in which the author published fiction. This seemed useful for readers or researchers looking at particular time periods within the 50 years the list covers. Note that authors may have published other non-fiction works earlier and/or later than their "dates active" range. The "dates active" reflect only the decades in which they published fiction.

Wherever possible, I've included complete listings of each author's fiction titles. "Wherever possible," in this case, generally means authors who published 10 novels or fewer, or a bit more if an author is particularly significant or interesting. I've used a sort of shorthand to indicate whether title listings are complete or not—"titles are" or simply a dash following the number (i.e. "wrote five novels—") indicate that the titles following are complete, while "titles include" or just "including" indicate that only a selection of titles is shown. I also give exact or at least approximate numbers of works of fiction in most cases, so it should usually be obvious whether the titles shown are complete or not.

Finally, when an author who has her own entry on the list is mentioned in another writer's entry, her last name is shown in all caps (i.e. "co-wrote one novel with Betty SMITH"). This allows for easier cross-referencing within the list. Names of authors or other individuals who do not have entries on this list are shown with standard capitalization.

Most of that information and a bit more is now available in the "Key & Citations" section of the list, so it can always be referred to.

If other indicators don't reflect clearly enough how much the list has grown overall, how about the fact that it has gone from encompassing 10 separate posts to 26? As before, I've added navigation links to each section, though they've got a bit more complicated. Don't get confused by the dates on each post, which will all say 2013. I created a slew of new posts pre-dated to before the blog even existed, so that those who subscribe to the blog wouldn't see an intimidating barrage of more than two dozen new posts all at once.

Do let me know if any of the links, or anything else, doesn't work properly or if you notice any errors.

I hope you find the new version of the list helpful and interesting. For my part, I'm just happy that it's finished. 

For now.


  1. You stun me with your enterprise and ambition!
    I am still lolling around in my jammies and robe and drinking coffee.............................

    1. Thanks, Tom! But how do you know I didn't do a lot of the work while lolling around in my jammies?!

  2. An amazing effort, to enhance and expand the LIST to such an extent. I must admit that I will miss the idea of the "Overwhelming List"! I am interested to see the new authors, particularly the dust jacket art, which you know I also love.

    Thanks for all your efforts.


  3. Wonderful. Scott. Though still, perhaps, a wee tad overwhelming? In a totally good way, of course. :^))

    1. Oh definitely still overwhelming, Susan, but just with a more specific title!

  4. Oh, I wanted to add.... For a moment I was all worried when I read "writers of fiction", thinking, Oh dear, what about all those autobiographies, memoirs and diaries, so dear to my heart. But if you give them their own list, then all is well.

    I wonder, though, if those known principally for diaries, but who also have the odd, forgotten novel, belong with the memoirists. Can you put them in both lists. Thinking, e.g., of Vera Brittain.

    1. Hmmmm, that's an idea, Susan. As it stands (and not yet posted), the memoir list is simply the writers I deleted from the main list, just to have a place for them to go. But I'll give it some thought, maybe it could be something more...

    2. Not that I want to give you more work....:^0

  5. This work you have done is stupendous! You ought to get some kind of degree for this - a great work of history.

    1. Hmmmm, perhaps a degree from Cambridge, with a research grant and library access?! :-)

  6. Such a huge achievement! Many congratulations. It has been a pleasure to make contact with you. Thank you for all your hard work. Annabel G.


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