Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit

Julia Briggs, Author
Julia Briggs, Author New Amsterdam Books $27.95 (473p) ISBN 978-0-941533-03-4
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 978-1-56131-028-9
Hardcover - 473 pages - 978-0-09-168210-1
Open Ebook - 514 pages - 978-1-306-30243-2
Open Ebook - 510 pages - 978-1-4616-3622-9
Paperback - 510 pages - 978-1-56663-376-5
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Readers will find British children's writer Edith Nesbit a woman of contradictions, at once impetuous and generous in her friendships, alternately complacent and irritable as a wife, and simultaneously caring and distant as a mother. Hubert Bland, Nesbit's first husband, married her in the eighth month of her pregnancy with his child but did not end what would become his 10-year-long affair with another woman; Alice Hoatson lived with the Blands most of her life and bore two children by Hubert, both quietly adopted by Edith. Briggs expands on what is known of Nesbit's affair with G. B. Shaw, and her friendship and friction with H. G. Wellshis attempt to seduce one of her daughters and his theft, in Edith's eyes, of her time-travel ideas. Supporting the family by churning out pulp-magazine stories, she didn't begin to write for children until she was 40. An ""emancipated'' woman, she was a founder of the Fabian Society, cropped her hair and wore unshapely gowns, allowed her children to run barefoot and wild, and surrounded herself with adoring young men. After Bland died, she married a ferry boat captain several stations beneath her in class and found happiness selling fruits and vegetables with him. Briggs, an Oxford tutor, darts back and forth among people, events and places that shaped Nesbit's life and writings, giving this biography its complicated, yet revealing, form. Not only is this a well-documented, scholarly venture but a completely absorbing tale, seamlessly told and almost too wickedly entertaining for belief. Photos. (May)
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