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ELIZABETH MYERS

Elizabeth Myers, author of A Well Full of Leaves, The Basilisk of St James, and Mrs Christopher (subsequently made into a film starring Dirk Bogarde) also published two volumes of short stories. This new selection gathers together the best of these as well as a number of previously uncollected stories.


elizabeth myerselizabeth myers, mrs littleton powys, sherborne, the sundial pressBy the time of her early death in 1947 at the age of 34, Elizabeth Myers had already made her mark on the literary scene with three published novels. The first of these, A Well Full of Leaves, appeared in 1943 and made an instantaneous impact. With its somewhat rhapsodic blend of nature mysticism and individualistic Catholicism, this story of four young siblings from a harsh domestic background polarized critical opinion but also won popular acclaim, proving an inspiration for many ordinary readers as war still raged around them. Later that same year, Myers met and married Littleton Powys, the retired headmaster of Sherborne Prep who was 40 years her senior, having had an introduction from his old friend Arthur Waugh. Despite her fragile health – at 25 she had lost her hearing in one ear and had been diagnosed with tuberculosis – the few years she spent with Littleton were happy and productive. Her second 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 commercially successful gained its share of critical attention. It was quickly followed in 1946 by Mrs. Christopher, an original murder story that plays on the psychological aspects of the nature of good and evil, and that was made into film five years later, starring Dirk Bogarde, Fay Compton and Michael Gough.


I believe that a story should strike a reader on the heart, like a blow from a stick.’  -Elizabeth Myers

Price: 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

From the Introduction by Anthony Head:


   This new selection of her work brings together 22 of the most diverse and incisive of her stories – a mixture of the comic, the sentimental, the pathetic and the tragic. It includes her only American story, ‘The Plea’; one of her few non-contemporary tales, ‘Dawn’, set in the wake of the French Revolution; and three that were not included in either of her main collections – ‘The Money Changeling’, an absurd kind of ‘revenger’s comedy’, the slapstick ‘Lost in London’, and ‘One Night “Up West”’, which like many of her tales packs a punch to startling effect. Most have a London or Irish setting (despite her never having visited Ireland, she was told many a tale by her Irish great-aunt), and the slang she employs in them is that of the contemporary East End or the Irish lower classes – dated somewhat in places but not difficult to understand.
   Underlying her narratives, and underlining her purpose in them, is the redemptive power of forgiveness, of mercy as twice blessed. Myers deserves to be remembered not specifically as a Christian writer, but first and foremost as a humanist, an author who could dispense with the dogmatic baggage of her religion whilst proclaiming its life-affirming message of compassion. As the narrator of ‘Nuts’ puts it: ‘Hatred and crime are, after all, only the result of not enough love.’ Elizabeth Myers had a capacious understanding of human nature and a broad tolerance of human foibles. Her unique stories are indeed, as her earlier publisher noted, ‘products of a perspicacious mind and a generous heart.’ However they may strike the reader’s emotions, they will not be easily dislodged from the mind.

Anthony Head 
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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 second watching.
  Five 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.
  The 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.
  Meantime, 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.
elizabeth myers, mrs littleton powys, sherborne, the sundial press
  To 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.
  But 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.
  And 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)
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Elizabeth Myers
TWENTY-TWO TALES is available as an eBook price 4.99 in all digital formats:

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ISBN 978-1-908274-17-5 (Kindle edition)  Currently unavailable. Amazon here (link to Amazon will open in a new tag or window).

ISBN 978-1-908274-16-8 (ePub edition)

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