Like Vera Brittain, whose close friend she was, Winifred Holtby's writing was much influenced by her time in the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps during the First World War and her political activism in England, Europe, and South Africa thereafter. Holtby's novels chronicle the ways in which changes in social structure affect the lives of women. Her masterpiece is South Riding (1936) in which a panorama of Yorkshire life is unfolded and explored. At the centre of this novel is the relationship between the radical Sarah Burton, a passionate teacher at the local girls’ school, and the Tory gentleman-farmer, Robert Carne. Although romanticized in parts, the book is also subtle, astute, and visionary.
Muriel Spark, Phyllis Bentley, Lettice Cooper LM