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Mary Webb, née Meredith Biography

(1881–1927), née Meredith, The Golden Arrow, Gone to Earth, The House in Dormer Forest

British novelist and poet, born in Shropshire, where she spent most of her life and which she celebrated in her novels; she was educated mainly at home. Her novels include The Golden Arrow (1916), Gone to Earth (1917), The House in Dormer Forest (1920), Seven for a Secret (1922), and Amour wherein He Trusted (1929). Her most famous novel, Precious Bane (1924), set in North Shropshire after the Napoleonic Wars, tells the story of Prue Sarn, a sensitive and gentle young woman stigmatized as a witch in her local community, because she has been born with a hare-lip. The novel epitomizes the qualities for which Webb's writing became renowned during her short life: its fervent, pantheistic celebration of nature, its somewhat fatalistic sympathy for the innocent and the dispossessed, and its exploration of the nature of female consciousness and sexuality. Her work has been compared with that of Thomas Hardy and with the rustic novels of Sheila Kaye-Smith. Both Webb and Kaye-Smith were amongst the writers satirized in Stella Gibbons's comic work, Cold Comfort Farm. A collection of nature poems and essays, The Spring of Joy (1928), appeared posthumously.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robert Penn Warren Biography to Kenneth White Biography