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May Sinclair (May Mary Amelia St Clair Sinclair) Biography

(1863–1946), (May Mary Amelia St Clair Sinclair), Audrey Craven, The Divine Fire, The Three Sisters

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Seven Against Thebes (Hepta epi Thēbas; Septem contra Thebas) to Sir Walter Scott and Scotland

British novelist, born in Cheshire, and educated mainly at home. She was the youngest child and only daughter of a shipping magnate whose business went bankrupt and who became an alcoholic. Sinclair lived with her mother after her parents separated and looked after her brothers while pursuing a formidable private course of study. After the publication of her first novel, Audrey Craven (1897), she moved to London. From 1908 she worked actively for Women's Suffrage and mixed with many of the leading writers of the day. The influence of Freud and Jung was evident in The Divine Fire (1904), about a Cockney poet and his relationship with a refined intellectual woman. Among her finest novels, which again manifest the author's interest in psychology, are The Three Sisters (1914), deriving from the lives of the Brontë sisters, Mary Olivier: A Life (1919), and Life and Death of Harriett Frean (1922). In Harriett Frean, the author makes use of a ‘stream-of-consciousness’ technique; the central character is mentally and spiritually trapped by the role society accords her, and not only accepts but almost rejoices in this restriction of emotional possibilities. Mary Olivier, which has many features in common with the author's life, depicts its heroine's longing for knowledge, her Platonist sense of the richness of life from which she has been excluded because of her sex. During the last fifteen years of her life May Sinclair suffered from Parkinson's disease.

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