Myers, author of A Well Full of
Leaves, The Basilisk of St James, and Mrs
(subsequently made into a film starring Dirk Bogarde) also published
volumes of short stories. This new selection gathers together the best
as well as a number of previously uncollected stories.
time of her early death in 1947 at the age of 34, Elizabeth Myers had
her mark on the literary scene with
three published novels. The first of these,
A Well Full of Leaves,
1943 and made an instantaneous impact. With its somewhat rhapsodic
nature mysticism and individualistic Catholicism, this story of four
siblings from a harsh domestic background polarized critical opinion
won popular acclaim, proving an inspiration for many ordinary readers
still raged around them. Later that same year, Myers met and married
Powys, the retired headmaster of Sherborne Prep who was 40 years her
had an introduction from his old friend Arthur Waugh. Despite her
health – at 25 she had lost her hearing in one ear and had been
tuberculosis – the few years she spent with Littleton were happy and productive.
book, The Basilisk
of St. James, a novel about Jonathan Swift set in the
London of Queen Anne, was published in 1945 and though less
successful gained its share of critical attention. It was quickly
1946 by Mrs. Christopher, an
murder story that plays on the psychological aspects of the nature of
evil, and that was made into film five years later, starring Dirk
Compton and Michael Gough.
believe that a story
should strike a
reader on the heart, like a blow from a stick.’ -Elizabeth
£4.99 | eBook| ISBNs: 978-1-908274-17-5 (Kindle edition) & 978-1-908274-16-8
(ePub edition) | Publication Date: June 2013
TWENTY-TWO TALES by Elizabeth Myers
TWENTY-TWO TALES by Elizabeth Myers
the Introduction by Anthony Head:
new selection of her work brings
together 22 of the most diverse and incisive of her stories – a mixture
comic, the sentimental, the pathetic and the tragic. It includes her
American story, ‘The Plea’; one of her few non-contemporary tales,
in the wake of the French Revolution; and three that were not included
either of her main collections – ‘The Money Changeling’, an absurd kind
‘revenger’s comedy’, the slapstick ‘Lost in London’, and ‘One Night “Up
which like many of her tales packs a punch to startling effect. Most
London or Irish setting (despite her never having visited Ireland, she
many a tale by her Irish great-aunt), and the slang she employs in them
of the contemporary East End or the Irish lower classes – dated
places but not difficult to understand.
Underlying her narratives,
her purpose in them, is the redemptive power of forgiveness, of mercy
blessed. Myers deserves to be remembered not specifically as a
writer, but first and foremost as a humanist, an author who could
the dogmatic baggage of her religion whilst proclaiming its
message of compassion. As the narrator of ‘Nuts’ puts it: ‘Hatred and
are, after all, only the result of not enough love.’ Elizabeth Myers
capacious understanding of human nature and a broad tolerance of human
Her unique stories are indeed, as her earlier publisher noted,
‘products of a
perspicacious mind and a generous heart.’ However they may strike the
emotions, they will not be easily dislodged from the mind.
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|THE scene is a London Underground
Station about ten o’clock on a winter’s night. Citizens are either in the
bowels of the earth or on the tops of the roofs – the first group waiting, the
miles or so above the planet some German people are cruising about in
aeroplanes, looking like beautiful fluted doves when caught in the icy beams of
the searchlight. But their intentions are not pentecostal, for every once in a
while they release flights of finned cylinders which, on bursting, will cause
buildings to topple and scientifically liquidate large numbers of citizens. By
way of a change the projectiles may spew fire or a little gas.
idea is to liven the scene as much as possible during the hours of darkness
over a small island lying, at one point, just twenty-two miles from the main
continent of Europe.
deep down in an Underground Station those citizens who have got the habit of
living half their lives on railway stairs and platforms, or who have no homes
at all owing to the dispersal of the same by bombs, are busily involved in
their new social hubbub which entails codes, complications, and penalties no
less rigorous than in the merry-go-round of life above stairs.
be sure there is discomfort below. Draughts roar down the subterranean passages
or blasts of suffocating hot air. The trains make a constant commotion, and the
passengers plunge among the shelterers on their determinate way to the lifts in
a manner that is a strain on civilized feelings.
the draughts blowing now hot now cold are no worse than the villainous London
climate above; privacy is a luxury not mourned by the poor who were accustomed
to celebrating their pre-war life largely on the open street; metamorphosis
from a slum room to a doss on a railway platform entails no remarkable
hardship; while the zoological row of trains and passengers are blights to be
found anywhere at any time.
meanwhile, the lights shine brightly, a gigantic row of posters provides
something of a heraldic splash, good humour prevails and, best of all, down
there it is Safe.
|(From THE PUBLIC ENTERTAINER)|
TWENTY-TWO TALES is available as an eBook price £4.99 in
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