Mary Webb was born and educated mostly at home in Leighton Cressage, Shropshire, a place which she loved and used as a setting in all of her novels. She is best known for Precious Bane (1924), which is typical of her writing and describes the countryside in lush, memorable detail. The story is narrated by the heroine, Prue Sarn; her ‘precious bane’ is her harelip, which has made her an outcast in her rural society, where she is stigmatized as a witch. The novel is concerned with her romance with a local weaver but also tells the story of her ambitious brother, Gideon. Other novels by Webb include Gone to Earth (1917) and Seven for a Secret (1922). Precious Bane was satirized in Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm (1932).
Emily Brontë, Thomas Hardy SA