Charlotte Mew and Her Friends: With a Selection of Her Poems

Penelope Fitzgerald, Author, Brad Leithauser, Foreword by Addison Wesley Publishing Company $17.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-201-08895-3
The life of British poet Charlotte Mew, 1869-1928, is wrenching in Fitzgerald's telling. Growing up in a London home saddened by the deaths of four of her infant siblings, Mew learned early about trouble, tragedies compounded when two other siblings became psychotic. Burdened with family cares and pinched finances in her adult years, she also had to struggle against Victorian strictures and repressed lesbianism, while trying to create her distinctive works. But she had helpful friends in Thomas and Florence Hardy, Henry and Alida Monro (of the renowned Poetry Bookshop) and others who recognized her talent. As Fitzgerald (Offshore, etc.) reveals, though, Mew suffered from an acute sense of unworthiness and, ""in danger of passing from the neurotic to the psychotic,'' she committed suicide at age 59. The author includes selections from the poet's masterworks, which, one hopes, will generate new appreciation for Mew after years of inexplicable neglect. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-201-08019-3
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