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REBECCA WEST: A Life Hardcover – October 14, 1996

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (October 14, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684194309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684194301
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,347,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Rebecca West was a prolific English literary star, producing a stream of essays, reviews, novels, and non-fiction journalism. In the 1920s she established herself as one of Britain's most influential critics, cultivating friendships with literary figures from George Bernard Shaw to H. G. Wells, with whom she began a torrid affair when she was 19. Her sweeping study of prewar Yugoslavia, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), has been resurrected to some acclaim since the war in the Balkans. Beyond that, her literary reputation has never been elevated to the canon. Rollyson's exhaustive biography examines the strange life and the amazing output of an independent woman whom Wells called "Panther."

From Publishers Weekly

Sinclair Lewis once scoffed about West's exasperating son, Anthony, sired out of wedlock by H.G. Wells, that his parentage was "the only interesting thing in his life." The difficult, disloyal Anthony would spoil for Rebecca (1892-1983) the acclaim she earned for her fiction (The Return of the Soldier, The Fountain Overflows) and her vivid, in-depth reportage (Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, The Meaning of Treason). For the last 50 years of her life, her son was eager to exploit his Wellsian connection to promote himself. To Wells, the conception of Anthony was just another accident resulting from his often concurrent affairs. While West (Cicily Fairfield, her feminist pen name, that of an Ibsen heroine) was hidden away by Wells, literary insiders knew, and her life became more public as she became recognized as a writer. Growing up, Anthony was drawn to his celebrity father, and Rollyson returns again and again to West's cycles of recrimination and reconciliation with her son. The first biographer permitted to forage in her papers at Yale, Rollyson (Lillian Hellman) has been thorough in other research as well; however, the trivia of everyday life, sexual and social, is often overwhelming here. Despite the resetting from the British edition, he has apparently paraphrased so closely from West's diaries and other papers that he uses Briticisms (cosh, spanner) at odds with the rest of his prose. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Carl Rollyson, Professor of Journalism at Baruch College, The City University of New York, has published more than forty books ranging in subject matter from biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag, and Jill Craigie to studies of American culture, genealogy, children's biography, film, and literary criticism. He has authored more than 500 articles on American and European literature and history. His work has been reviewed in newspapers such as The New York Times and the London Sunday Telegraph and in journals such as American Literature and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. For four years (2003-2007) he wrote a weekly column, "On Biography," for The New York Sun and was President of the Rebecca West Society (2003-2007). His play, THAT WOMAN: REBECCA WEST REMEMBERS, has been produced at Theatresource in New York City. Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography (awarded a "We the People" NEH grant) will be published in August 2013. . "Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, a biography of Dana Andrews was published in September 2012 by University Press of Mississippi. His biography, "American Isis: The Life and Death of Sylvia Plath" was published in February 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of her death. His reviews of biography appear regularly in The Wall Street Journal, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Raleigh News & Observer, The Kansas City Star, and The New Criterion. He is currently advisory editor for the Hollywood Legends series published by the University Press of Mississippi. He welcomes queries from those interested in contributing to the series. Read his column, "Biographology," and his blog on
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