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Because of the Lockwoods

Whipple, Dorothy, Evans, Harriet
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd
Published: October 23, 2014
ISBN: 9781910263006
488 pages


This is our [Persephone’s] seventh novel by our bestselling writer. It was published in 1949 and was her penultimate book. The novelist Harriet Evans has written a polemical preface to Because of the Lockwoods from which we are pleased to quote at length.

‘If, like me, you are one of the thousands of readers who discovered Dorothy Whipple through Persephone’s reissues, you know well that feeling of resigned bewilderment suffusing the sigh of satisfaction you utter after finishing one of her novels. Why isn’t she better known? Why is she not acclaimed more widely, when so many of her less talented contemporaries are still in print?

‘For the case does need to be made for Dorothy Whipple’s entry into the pantheon of great British novelists of the twentieth century. Not just because she can so deftly spin a cocoon of a story around you, swiftly rendering you transfixed (the art of which is severely, crucially underestimated by reviewers and readers alike) but because she wrote books quite unlike any others, for all their seeming “ordinariness”. One might say the time is long overdue for a Barbara Pym type rehabilitation. I am as ambitious [for this to happen] to Dorothy Whipple. Her scope is larger, her own ambition grander, the results hugely satisfying, often thrilling. For me, she is more substantial a writer than someone like Pym or Elizabeth Taylor (both of whose novels I nevertheless adore) in not merely that aforementioned ambition, but in her control of material and characters, her eye for detail and most importantly, the mirror she holds up to twentieth- century England, showing good and bad, light and dark and, crucially, the lives of normal people, where she makes the ordinary extraordinary.

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