An Exacting Craft

Outside her London home

Outside her London home

New readers continue to find Margery Sharp!

No doubt this momentum will continue to grow. The merits of an author with a distinct voice, who lived in a distinctive period of time between two world wars, can only gain in value. What sets Margery Sharp apart from many writers–as odd as it sounds–is her dedication to the craft of writing. She had an unflinching work ethic, and knew that writing was as much about toil as it is inspiration.

For an author whose work is chiefly characterized as ‘light fiction’, it may come as a surprise to find that Ms. Sharp was so very, very serious about the responsibility of crafting a good story.

One reader/blogger who has done so much to create a new readership for the novels of Margery Sharp is Jane, who used to blog as Fleurfisher, but now blogs at Beyond Eden Rock. I have been reading her blog for years, and have discovered several new authors I might have missed, otherwise. Her blog is a delight for readers, and, even better–she is also a fan of Margery’s work! Jane has written many lovely reviews of the Sharp books, and has directly influenced new readers to discover Margery Sharp’s work for themselves.

So Jane is hosting a special Margery Sharp reading event at her blog! Please be sure to check it out–it comes complete with a book giveaway, too! Margery Sharp Day is January 25th, 2016. There are no requirements, but just to enjoy learning more about this fine author. If you would like, pick a Margery Sharp book to read between now and then, and the discussions of the books will commence on Jane’s blog on January 25th!

As for me, I’m hoping to go back and thoroughly explore Britannia Mews. I have not reviewed it for this website, yet, as I have been waiting on a few more materials that may or may not materialize. Britannia Mews is also one of the most difficult books to review, for me, as it is alternately fascinating, compelling, and disappointing…but more on that, later! The thing about Margery’s writing, is that, even when she doesn’t take a book the direction we would have liked to see it go, she can always be relied upon for impeccably crafted prose.

Speaking of her writing technique, we’re not sure what Margery Sharp would have made of NaNoWriMo or  NaBloPoMo, but she did have an absolute standard for writing that she kept, even during wartime and London air raids.

I thought it might be fitting, given the November season, when writing is ‘in the air’, to include this description of Margery’s writing routine. It might be inspiring…or intimidating…depending on your viewpoint!

‘To one who demands so much of herself, every minor pleasure is an indulgence. Little Miss Sharp is a demon for work. During the war, she lectured far and wide, twice a day for five days a week for three years–and wrote as hard as ever. It is hard work. She writes every word of her books in longhand twice, for when completed each novel is rewritten in full. She then types it.

“But I correct as I go on, so I don’t see that a secretary would help.” (says Margery)

Then there is more re-typing, with more corrections.’ (excerpt from John Barber’s article in ‘The Leader’, Oct. 30th, 1948)

Considering at least one of Margery’s novels was completed in a month–while living in a busy flat with several roommates, and working and attending college–November Writing Month would have fazed ‘Little Miss Sharp’ not one whit.

This post also comes with a request. IMG_9827The chances of you, dear reader, possessing a copy of Theatre World, April 1949, are slim, indeed. (I believe it has Vivian Leigh on the cover–quite striking!) Yet if such an amazing thing was possible, and you would like to send me, via electronic files, the review inside of ‘The Foolish Gentlewoman‘, that would be lovely. Due to my inability–of recent years–to deal with mold or mildew in any way, I have had to cease from purchasing old magazines or booklets. This has slowed down my research and writing for this website, (“quite considerable!“, as my grandmother would have said.) But I have been able to acquire some stories and reviews via photocopies, or electronic scans/pdfs. I am always happy to reimburse expenses.

The copy of Theatre World pictured is in my possession, and it is a follow-up story to the April issue, dealing with the on stage production of The Foolish Gentlewoman. I’ll be covering this in an upcoming post.

Thank you, and I hope you find some new treasures in the writings of Margery Sharp! And thank you, Jane!

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