A brief biography

Until we have a ‘real’ biography, this will have to suffice. The ladies at London University were kind enough to supply me with some of the information they had on file, plus a few newspaper clippings, saved after Margery Sharp (Mrs. Castle) had started publishing.

Born Clara Margery Melita Sharp, on January 25, 1905 , the third daughter of J.H. Sharp.

She attended Chiswick House High School, Malta in the years 1912 and 1913, and Streatham Hill High School 1914-1923.

Her years in Malta offer arguable proof that some events and certainly many feelings in her novel The Sun in Scorpio were drawn from experience. One can conjecture, also from the painfully realistic picture depicted in Sun in Scorpio, that this transition from the hot and sunny island back to the cold, gray shores of Britain was not a happy one:

“[She was] a little beast desolate and disconsolate; a little beast curling in upon itself like an armadillo.”

The next record of schooling is Bedford College, London. She entered the college in 1925. From 1925-26 she took Intermediate Arts which she passed, and between 1926-28 she studied for BA (Hons) in French with English as a supplementary subject. Her college career was devoted “almost entirely to journalism and campus activities.”

She gained a Class II degree and left the College in June 1928. Further schooling included Westminster Art School, and it is easy to see from her books that she had a passion for drawing and painting. She does reveal–(apparently being a very disciplined and self-possessed young girl…shades of ‘Martha’)–that she had decided early on that she would never become anything but either a writer or painter.

She traveled to Poland and Ireland, and her first visit to the United States was in 1929. This was as part of the first visit to the States by the British Universities Women’s Debating Team. She was included, not because she was debater, she has stated in her oblique manner, but because “someone had to come.” Nonetheless, she became the most popular member of the team, by making Washington laugh even on the subject of Popular Psychology.

She began her writing career at the age of twenty-one as a contributor to Punch–(called ‘that bulwark of English liberties‘), Encyclopedia Britannica, Strand magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, the Ladies’ Home Journal, Harper’s, Woman’s Home Companion, Harper’s Bazaar, Fiction Parade, among many others.

She contributed mysteries to a Mystery and Adventure Stories for Girls, edited by Eric Duthie, as well as to an Ellery Queen collection of mysteries.

She also serialized novels to ladies’ magazines–the The Foolish Gentlewoman was one of these that had been released in installments, before publication in hardbound book.

During the war she served as an Army Education Lecturer. Living through the bombing of London, with stiff upper lip bravery, had its effect on her writing, as can be imagined. Through her character Dodo–in Britannia Mews, she re-lives the fear and the bravado once again as shattered glass and bits of broken wood rain down upon their heads:

‘”Never mind, Uncle Treff,” shouted Dodo. “We’ll die with each other!” In the silence that followed they stared at each other with instinctive repudiation, aversion almost: they didn’t want to die together; they resented, each of them, having no one better with whom to share this supreme intimacy…'”

In 1938 she married Major Geoffrey Castle. One would like to presume it was a happy marriage–for one thing, her books are always dedicated to him. He died in 1990, Margery died shortly thereafter, in March of 1991.

Her other hobbies and delights were swimming, gardening, embroidery, and archery.

Thankfully none of those interests crowded out writing.

Margery Sharp

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4 thoughts on “A brief biography

    • It’s coming! 🙂 My goal has been to re-read each book again before I post the synopsis, to have a fresher view to offer. So I am working my way through the novels; not strictly chronologically, but close. Thanks for visiting!

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  1. I have a collection of Punch magazine from its inception to 1940, so Sharp’s contributions must be in there somewhere. Unfortunately the bound volumes don’t always include an index. But I’ll see if I can find anything attributed to Margery Sharp.

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    • That would be wonderful! I am always so interested in Sharp’s earliest work, and the Punch contributions would be an important key to seeing her development as a writer. I hope you can find something; and thank you!

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