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Pamela Hansford Johnson Biography

(1912–81), This Bed Thy Centre, Blessed Above Women, Girdle of Venus, Too Dear for My Possessing

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography

English novelist, critic, and playwright, born in London, educated at Clapham School and the Société Européenne de Culture. She subsequently taught at various universities, including Yale. London is the background for several of her works, including her first novel, This Bed Thy Centre (1935), which was published when she was 22 and was followed by more than twenty others, including Blessed Above Women (1936), Girdle of Venus (1939), Too Dear for My Possessing (1940), The Trojan Brothers (1944), An Impossible Marriage (1954), and An Error of Judgement (1962). Most of her novels have love as a central theme, although she also focused on the relationship between her characters and contemporary society. In her fiction and critical writing she was renowned for her delicately malicious wit. Her best-known work is perhaps the ‘Dorothy Merlin’ trilogy, a satire on the literary world, consisting of The Unspeakable Skipton (1959), Night and Silence, Who Is Here (1962), and Cork Street, Next to the Hatter's (1965). Later works include The Good Listener (1975) and The Bonfire (1981). She also published collections of poetry, including Symphony for Full Orchestra (1934), and plays, such as Spare the Rod (1951), as well as critical studies of I. Compton-Burnett (1951) and C. P. Snow (1983), whom she married in 1950. In 1975 she received the CBE. There is a biography by I. Quigley (1968).

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