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Charlotte Mew (Charlotte Mary Mew) Biography

(1869–1928), (Charlotte Mary Mew), The Yellow Book, The Farmer's Bride, The Rambling Sailor

poet poems story short

British poet and short-story writer, born in Bloomsbury; she attended lectures at University College, London. Following the appearance in 1894 of her story ‘Passed’ in The Yellow Book, she contributed poems and stories to numerous periodicals. The Farmer's Bride (1915), her first collection of poetry, displayed the austerely lyrical tone and preoccupation with torment and grief that characterize much of her verse. Her recurrent treatments of mental imbalance, of which ‘On the Asylum Road’ is a memorable example, have a disquieting intensity related to the fact that she had a brother and a sister who were confined in private asylums. She killed herself in a London nursing home, fearing that the breakdown she had undergone following the deaths of her mother and one of her sisters marked the advent of insanity. A second volume of poetry, The Rambling Sailor, appeared in 1929, the title poem typifying the curious and imaginative effects she achieved through her idiosyncratic adaptations of traditional forms. Hilda Doolittle and Virginia Woolf were among her admirers; Hardy believed her to be unquestionably the best woman poet of her day and, with the support of De La Mare and Masefield, obtained a Civil List pension for her in 1923. Her skilfully structured short stories are notable for their sustained concern with women's attitudes and experiences. V. Warner's edition of Collected Poems and Prose appeared in 1981; Charlotte Mew and Her Friends, by Penelope Fitzgerald, was published in 1984.

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