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West, Rebecca

novel soldier father movement

(British, 1892–1983)

Born in Ireland and educated in Edinburgh, Rebecca West (real name Cicily Isobel Fairfield) first wrote witty, irreverent journalism. Her novels explore women's lives from a psychological perspective. Begin with The Fountain Overflows (1957), an autobiographical novel telling the story of her journalist father's abandonment of his family and the subsequent fortunes of herself and her sisters. The ambiguities of the sisters’ relationships are explored in detail, and West's re-creation of her youth is skilfully sustained. In The Birds Fall Down (1966), a novel of the Russian Revolution, she creates another character based upon her father, and in The Return of the Soldier (1918), her first novel, about a soldier suffering from shell-shock after the First World War, there is little or no authorial distance. The Judge (1922), focusing on the effects of the suffrage movement on women's lives, reflects West's involvement in the early feminist movement.

Elizabeth Taylor, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Elizabeth Bowen  CB

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