Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Added to the reading pile: More fascinating women's lives. . .

So my biography/memoir pile is growing. I have new biographies of Storm Jameson, Elizabeth Taylor (the author), Frances Partridge and Jean Rhys beckoning me. And now I've added Evelyn Sharp: Rebel Woman 1869-1955 by Angela V. John to the list. Her life touches on areas of this historical and literary period that fascinate me; she was a fairytale writer, a suffagette who was imprisoned twice in Holloway, and a pacifist during WWI, plus she had a long affair with the war journalist Henry Nevinson only able to marry him after the death of his wife, when she was sixty-three. There's a review of the book at the Times Higher Education site here. I also ordered Sharp's own autobiography, Unfinished Adventure, which Faber & Faber has reprinted through their Faber Finds series. Not sure which to read first - I may go with the biography first to get an overview and then get lost in Sharp's own voice. Or should I approach the writer first without any autobiographical preconceptions and then read the analysis? It's a tough call.

I can also hardly wait to read The Practice of Her Profession: Florence Carlyle, Canadian Painter in the Age of Impressionism by Susan Butlin. My favourite painting in the Art Gallery of Ontario is Carlyle's The Tiff and I've long been wanting to see other examples of her work (turns out a good number of her paintings are in the Woodstock Art Gallery, so a road trip is imminent). Lots has been written about the Paris art scene at the turn of the century - it will be wonderful to read about the experiences of a spirited Canadian woman among them. I've already spent a rapt hour just gazing at the colour plates of some of her other paintings and my admiration for her work has only grown.