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‘Olivia’ (Dorothy Strachey) Biography

(1866–1960), (Dorothy Strachey), Olivia

British novelist and translator. Sister of Lytton Strachey, friend and translator of André Gide, Strachey would merit no more than a footnote in literary history were it not for a single, pseudonymous work. Olivia (1949) is set in a French girls' boarding school, where the eponymous English heroine falls in love with her schoolteacher. The novel hints at Mlle Julie's lesbianism, but Olivia's passion for her is both wildly erotic and ‘innocent’. Olivia draws on the author's memories of the Strachey household and of her own teacher, the charismatic Marie Souvestre. It is a highly charged, compressed, and beautifully controlled study of the psychological turmoil of first love. Olivia was filmed in 1950, directed by Jacqueline Audry.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Joseph O'Connor Biography to Cynthia Ozick Biography