Page 79 - PB Cat 1999-2021
P. 79

 The endpapers of A Very Great Profession are the orignal Virago covers; this one shows Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter holding the basket with her library books.
A Very Great Profession NICOLA BEAUMAN
‘This most welcome reissue,’ wrote the critic Elizabeth Young when A Very Great Profession was reprinted in 1989 (it was first published in 1983),‘must be one of the most compelling and perceptive books of informal literary criticism ever produced. Ranging through a variety of themes such as the Great War, the servant problem, psycho-analysis, sexuality and feminism, Nicola Beauman examines their effects upon the characters created by authors as diverse as Virginia Woolf, EM Delafield and Elinor Glyn. An astute critic, she produces an unforgettable picture of the lives of middle-class women during the inter-war period, inspired, she says, by Brief Encounter.’
The author writes at the start of the book: ‘In the film the heroine goes into the local town every week to change her library book.This is the highlight of her week. It was the glimpse of her
newly borrowed Kate O’Brien in her shopping basket that made me want to find out about the other novels the doctor’s wife had been reading during her life as “a respectable marr- ied woman with a husband and a home and three children”. I wanted, also, to learn something about Laura [who] lived uneventful days and was, like Katharine in Virginia Woolf ’s Night and Day (1919),“a member of a very great profession which has, as yet, no title and very little recognition...She lived at home.”’
 NO 78
408pp PERSEPHONE BOOKS ISBN 9781903155684

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