25 September 2007

Mollie Morris (aka Katharine Morris) and Lionel Britton

This copy of Hunger and Love was signed by Britton to Mollie Morris (aka Katharine Morris), at the time (1931) an unpublished novelist born in Nottingham and from the small village of Bleasby near Nottingham. Britton had met Morris before the book was published, in a Bloomsbury café where he had gone with a friend (most probably the budding writer Erik — later anglicised to Eric — Warman). Britton was carrying his manuscript under his arm, as was the fashion with writers, and the much younger Morris was thrilled when Britton let her hold the unpublished book. She had been discouraged by David Garnett's disparaging reaction to her own manuscript, and allowed Britton to take away her work to see what he thought could be done with it.

When they met later in the week, Britton gave her some advice: he told her that each character should speak with his or her own individual voice, and that she should write about the village where she lived. Morris absorbed everything Britton said, and a few years later she published New Harrowing (London: Methuen, 1933), and dedicated it to him in recognition of his help.* She always remembered him with fond regards, wrote several letters to him, and wrote about the above meeting in her as yet unpublished autobiography, 'When All the Trees Are Green'. She died in 1999 at the age of 89.

*Later novels were published as 'Katharine Morris': Country Dance ([London]: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951), The Vixen's Club (London: Macdonald, 1955), The House by the Water (London: Macdonald, 1957), and The Long Meadow (London: Macdonald, 1958).

My other Mollie Morris post:

The Grave of Mollie Morris, aka Katharine Morris

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