Author(s): Penelope Fitzgerald
Penelope Fitzgerald's fascinating portrait of Bloomsbury's saddest poet. Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) was a poet with a formidable reputation who, as Virginia Woolf put it, was 'very good and interesting and unlike anyone else' and who wrote some of the best English poems of the twentieth century. In her private life, to all appearances, she was a dutiful daughter living at home with a monster of an old mother. The proprieties had to be observed and no one must know that the Mews had no money, that two siblings were insane and that Charlotte was a secret lesbian, living a life of self-inflicted frustration. Despite literary success and a passionate, enchanting personality, eventually the conflicts within her drove her to despair, and she killed herself by swallowing household disinfectant. In this unexpectedly gripping portrait, Penelope Fitzgerald brings all her novelist's skills into play, giving us what Victoria Glendinning calls a 'tantalising, touching story...an entire life's emotional history in a short space'.
Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most distinctive voices in British literature. The prizewinning author of nine novels, three biographies, and one collection of short stories, she died in 2000.