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Sheila Kaye-Smith Biography

(1887–1956), The Tramping Methodist, Sussex Gorse, Joanna Godden, Cold Comfort Farm, Quartet in Heaven

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British novelist, born at St Leonard's-on-Sea, Sussex. Following the publication of her first novel, The Tramping Methodist (1908), she left Sussex to live for a time in London where she was to meet Alice Meynell, D. H. Lawrence, Dorothy Richardson, Thomas Hardy, and Mary Webb. Sussex Gorse (1916) attracted considerable notice, and following the war three further books confirmed her reputation as a Sussex novelist, in particular Joanna Godden (1921). Her popularity as a regional novelist during the 1920s has not endured and, like Mary Webb, she was among the writers satirized by Stella Gibbons in Cold Comfort Farm. Religion was also a central theme in her work; following her conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1929 she wrote a study of four Roman Catholic heroines, Quartet in Heaven (1953). Among her other works are Talking of Jane Austen (1943) and More Talk about Jane Austen (1950), both written in collaboration with Gladys Bertha Stern; and three volumes of autobiography (Three Ways Home, 1937; Kitchen-Fugue, 1945; All the Books of My Life, 1956).

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