Ethel Mannin (1900-84)


Life
b. 6 Oct. 1900, in Clapham, London, of Irish descent - tracing her family to the O’Mainnín owners of Melough Castle, Galway; dg. of Robert Mannin, a post-office worker, born in Westminster slum, and Edith [née Gray?], the dg. of a small farmer [in Dorset]; began writing stories and poems at 6; published on the children’s page of a woman’s paper at 7; ed. at local council schools until aged 15, when went to work as a stenographer for the Charles F. Higham advertising agency in London; appt. assoc.-ed. of the Pelican, 1917; m. John Alexander Porteous (b.1887), a copywriter at Higham’s, 1919, with whom one dg., Jean (after which she espoused the idea that a ‘masculine mind’ better suited women writers than motherhood; her novels in the 20s and 30s examined lives of working-class women; issued Martha (1923), runner-up in a first novel competition judged by Douglas Goldring, later a friend and memoirist; issued Sounding Brass (1925), based on advertising business; also Pilgrims (1927), inspired by Van Gogh, following a sojourn in Paris; issued a first autobiography as Confessions and Impressions (1930);
 
issued Ragged Banners (1931), a novelistic homage to eccentrics with a European background; purchased Oak Cottage, Wimbledon, 1929; issued Linda Shawn (1932), the story of a girl; issued Men Are Unwise (1934), a mountaineering novel with advanced social ideas on marriage, which she later judged unsuccessful [see infra]; she enjoyed a ‘sustained friendship’, and reputedly had an affair, with W. B. Yeats, exchanging letters with him from their first meeting in 1934 to his death in 1939; she was later as a recipient of a copy of his epitaph (‘Cast a cold eye [… &c.]’), with an explanation connecting it to Rilke; also had an much-publicised affair with Bertrand Russell,to whom she devoted a chapter entitled “Portrait of a First-Class Mind” in Confessions and Impressions (1930); took a writer’s retreat in a convent during 1934, learning to relish the solitude; visited Kiev, 1934, and later travelled in Russia, 1935, meeting Ernst Toller in Moscow, with whom she established a friendship, urging his plays on Yeats and, with him, appealing to Yeats to support Carl von Ossietzky for the Nobel Prize; travelled onwards illegally to Turkestan; Mannin in S. of France during March 1935;
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issued Cactus (1935) which she later saw as prefiguring the Spanish Civil War; issued South to Samarkand (1936), conveying her disillusion with government in the Soviet Union; issued Privileged Spectator (1939), an autobiography marking her disillusion with the British Labour Party in the 1930s and her turn to anarcho-syndicalism and pacifism; divorced Porteous, 1938; in the same year she married Reginald Reynolds, a Quaker pacifist who carried messages between Gandhi and the British Govt. and later became and aympathetic student of newly-emergent African nations (Beware of Africans, 1955); issued Women and the Revolution (1938), including accounts on Maud Gonne-McBride and Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington; issued Proud Lover (1943), the narrative of a wealthy lover and a violinist, narrated by his friend who falls in love with her also after the former’s death and speaks of a ‘plurality of marriages’; issued Red Rose (1941), a novel based on the life of Emma Goldman (“Red Emma”) whom she succeeded as role representative of International Antifascist Solidarity [SIA] in 1938, raising more money than her predecessor; corresponded with Flann O’Brien, 1939; settled in Connemara to write, at first in a cottage 5 miles from Mannin Bay, Jan. 1940; joined by Reginald, March 1940, leaving in mid-April on his mother’s death;
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Sunday Times refuses to advertise her novel Sleep After Love, written in 1941, afterwards issued as Captain Moonlight (1942); refused permission by Foreign Office to travel to Ireland, presumably for political reasons, 1942; issued The Blossoming Bough (1943), in which an Irishman goes to Paris and thence to the Spanish Civil War, remaining faithful to his actress-cousin Katherine O’Donal; issued Proud Heaven (1945), a novel ‘purely English in background [which] bears the influence of an acute attack of Henry James which I had at that time’ (Brief Lives, p.42); took in an ex-Brixton prisoner and B.U.F. member, who kept a gold swastika under his jacket lapel; returned to Connemara, feeling ‘romantically and sentimentally in love with the country’, in Nov. 1945, when she bought the cottage, previously rented; spoke at public meetings against the Partition of Ireland - ‘the imperialist problem nearest home’ - and elected Chairman of West London Area of Anti-Partition Committee; proposed and defended motion that ‘Modern Poetry is Punk’ at London University debate, with particular reference to T. S. Eliot, Dec. 1946; issued Connemara Journal (1947), ded. to Maud Gonne McBride and ill. by Elizabeth Rivers; suffered the death of her father (d.1947; bur. New Year’s Day, 1948); later wrote an admiring account of him as This Was a Man (1952);
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her novel Late Have I Loved Thee (1948), concerning Francis Sable who converts to Catholicism and joins the Jesuits in Milltown, Ireland, after his much-loved sister Cathyn Sable dies in a climbing accident; based on the story of Fr. John Sullivan, S.J., son of the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland a convert, the novel was was said to be responsible for many vocations, and was adopted by the Women Writers’ Club (Sec. Dr. Lorna Reynolds); Mannin and her husband dined by Club in Dublin with Earl of Wicklow, Sean MacBride, Kate O’Brien, Mrs. Isabel Foyle - the dedicatee of the novel who had prompted it with information about O’Sullivan - and Elizabeth Rivers; issued Every Man a Stranger (1949), a novel based on the life of William Joyce, for which Rivers refused the dedication saying that the theme turned her ‘sideways with distaste’; travelled to India with her dg., Jan. 1949 - a World Pacifist Conference to be attended by Reginald having been postponed; tore up her diary en route and threw it overboard in the Indian Ocean, agreeing with Tagore [see infra]; found Hinduism repellent ‘with its lingam cult’; travelled to North West Frontier and Darjeeling;

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bought a 12-sailing boat called Kathleen in Connemara, June 1949; visited in Connemara by Rivers, Sept. 1950; issued At Sundown, The Tiger (1951), a novel based on her Indian journey and ded. to the Commissioner of the Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr. Chaturvedi; discovered Greenwich and William Blake, 1951; travelled to Morocco, 1951; issued The Wild Swans and Other Tales [...] (1952), encouraged by Rivers, and ill. by Alex Jardine (‘a labour of love ... remarkably unsuccessful’); issued Moroccan Mosaic (1953), a travel work, and Lover Under Another Name (1953), a novel centred on the character Tom Rowse, sculptor, and his individual vision of Christ - based on her reading of William Blake; wrote to Joyce Cary disowning any plagiarism in her choice and treatment of the theme held in common with The Horse’s Mouth (1944), which she came upon while writing;
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travelled a trip to Burma [now Myanmar] stimulated by the case of Bertha Hertogh [see infra] and galvanised by copies of The Light of the Dhamma, a journal to which she was subscribed by an Northern Irish Buddhist who read her some-time quotation of lines from Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia later taken as epigraph of Brief Voices; issued Land of the Crested Lion (1955), which caused offence in Burma in spite of deleted episodes; developed interest in Theravada Buddhism; issued The Living Lotus (1956), the story of an Anglo-Burmese girl; became a vegetarian, though reviling Burmese callousness and sophistry; issued Pity the Innocent (1957), partly set in Connemara, and inspired by hanging of an English women who killed her lover, and especially by sympathy for her child - her third first-person novel told from the boy’s standpoint as he recalls his early life for the priest who was present at her execution; made friends with with Mrs. Lakshmi Pandit, then High Commissioner for India, and sis. of Nehru, 1955;
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meets Cartier-Bresson in Ushant (Ile d’Ouessant) while preparing a book on Brittany (The Country of the Sea, 1957), 1956; objected to Christmas cards and the season as a commercial racket and attracted adverse mail, 1956; travelled to Sweden, 1957 to study Folk High School Movement [Folkshögskola]; suffered the death of her husband Reginald, unexpectedly, on an Australian lecture tour - the day after she had completed her post-1939 autobiographical volume Brief Voices (1959), which she dedicated to him (‘who was involved in so much of it’); left Connemara for London; in 1961 while living at [“Oak Cottage”] Burghley Road, Wimbledon, London, S.W., she appeared in court as a character-witness for a robber, befriended by her husband and herself and visited in prison on a previous occasion; moved to “Overhill”, Shaldon, Devonshire, in the 1960s - a house found by her dg. Jean; issued Sunset over Dartmoor (1977), a late autobiography; injured in a fall at home, July 1984; d. 5 Dec. 1984, at Teignmouth Hospital; Mannin wrote 102 books incl. 50 novels and also wrote on the Arab cause; d. 5 Dec. IF2 KUN OCIL DIL2

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Works
Novels
  • Martha (London: Leonard Parsons 1923; rev. ed., Jarrolds 1929);
  • Hunger of the Sea (London: Jarrolds 1924);
  • Sounding Brass (London: Jarrolds [1947]), and Do. [rep.] (London: Hutchinson 1972);
  • Pilgrims (London: Jarrolds [1927]);
  • Green Willows (London: Jarrolds [1928]);
  • Forbidden Music (London: Readers’ Library [1929]);
  • Children of the Earth (London: Jarrolds [1930]) (xii), 13-288pp.;
  • Ragged Banners (London: Jarrolds [1931]);
  • All Experience (London: Jarrolds 1932);
  • Love’s Winnowing (London: Wright & Brown [1932]);
  • Venetian Blinds (London: Jarrolds 1933), 416pp.and Do. [another edn., ‘fifteen thousandth’; Jarrolds n.d.];
  • Men are Unwise (London: Jarrolds 1934);
  • Cactus (London: Jarrolds 1935; rev. edn. [1944]), ded. Ernst Toller;
  • The Pure Flame (London: Jarrolds 1936);
  • Women Also Dream (London: Jarrolds 1937);
  • Darkness My Bride (London: Jarrolds [1938]);
  • Julie (London: Jarrolds [1940]);
  • Rolling in the Dew (London: Jarrolds [1940]);
  • Red Rose: A Novel Based on Life of Emma Goldman (London: Jarrolds [1941]);
  • Captain Moonlight (London: Jarrolds [1942]);
  • Castles in the Street (London: Letchworth [1942]);
  • The Blossoming Bough (London: Jarrolds [1943]( [err. Blooming, DIL];
  • Bread and Roses: An Utopian Survey and Blue-Print (London: Macdonald [1944]);
  • Proud Heaven (London: Jarrolds [1944]);
  • Lucifer and the Child (London: Jarrolds 1945) [on witchcraft];
  • The Dark Forest (London: Jarrolds 1946);
  • Late Have I Loved Thee (London: Jarrolds [1948]) [var. 1947, IF2];
  • Every Man a Stranger (London: Jarrolds [1949]) [on William Joyce];
  • At Sundown, the Tiger (London: Jarrolds 1951) [based on an Indian journey];
  • The Fields at Evening (London: Jarrolds 1952) [based on family farming background];
  • Lover Under Another Name (London: Jarrolds 1953);
  • So Tiberius ... (London: Jarrolds 1954);
  • The Living Lotus (London: Jarrolds 1956) (x), 7-320pp. [story of an Anglo-Burmese girl];
  • Pity the Innocent (London: Jarrolds 1957; rep. London: Hutchinson 1975);
  • Fragrance of Hyacinths (London: Jarrolds 1958);
  • Ann and Peter in Sweden (London: Frederick Muller [1959]);
  • The Blue-Eyed Boy (London: Jarrolds 1959);
  • Sabishisa (London: Hutchinson 1961) (xii), 13-284pp.;
  • Ann and Peter in Austria (London: Frederick Muller 1962);
  • Curfew at Dawn (London: Hutchinson 1962);
  • With Will Adams Through Japan (London: Frederick Muller 1962);
  • Bavarian Story (London: Arrow Books 1964);
  • The Burning Bush (London: Hutchinson 1965);
  • Bitter Babylon (London: Hutchinson 1968);
  • The Midnight Street (London: Hutchinson 1969);
  • Practitioners of Love (London: Hutchinson 1969);
  • The Saga of Sammy-cat (London: Joseph 1971);
  • The Curious Adventures of Major Fosdick (London: Hutchinson 1972);
  • England, My Adventure (London: Hutchinson 1972);
  • Mission to Beirut (London: Hutchinson 1973);
  • Stories from My Life (London: Hutchinson 1973);
  • Kildoon (London: Hutchinson 1974);
  • The Late Miss Guthrie (London: Hutchinson 1976);
See also Crescendo (London: Jarrolds [1929]) [with other novellas by Warwick Deeping and Gilbert Frankau];
Note: genre of some of the foregoing unidentified.
Short fiction
  • Bruised Wings and Other Stories (London: Wright & Brown [1931]);
  • Green Figs (London: Jarrolds [1931]);
  • The Tinsel Eden and Other Stories (London: Wright & Brown [1931]);
  • Dryad (London: Jarrolds 1933);
  • The Falconer’s Voice (London: Jarrolds 1935);
  • No More Mimosa (London: Jarrolds [1943] [on the Spanish Civil War];
  • Selected Stories (Dublin: Maurice Fridberg 1946);
  • The Wild Swans and Other Tales Based on the Ancient Irish (London: Jarrolds 1952), Alex Jardine [“The Children of Lir”, “The Wooing of Etain”, and “The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne”].
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Autobiography
  • Confessions and Impressions (London: Jarrolds [1930]);
  • Privileged Spectator: A Sequel to “Confessions and Impressions” (London: Jarrolds 1939; rev. edn. [1948]);
  • Connemara Journal (London: Westhouse 1947) [ded. Maud Gonne McBride; ill by Elizabeth Rivers];
  • This Was a Man: Some Memories of Robert Mannin by His Daughter (London: Jarrolds 1952), 104pp.
  • Brief Voices: A Writer’s Story (London: Hutchinson 1959), 273pp. [signed London-Connemara; epigraph ‘But life’s way is the wind’s way, all these things / Are but brief voices, breathed on shifting strings’ - from from The Light of Asia [Bk. 3: p.54.]];
  • Young in the Twenties: A Chapter of Autobiography (London: Hutchinson 1971)
  • Sunset over Dartmoor (London: Hutchinson 1977).
Travel
  • Forever Wandering (London: Jarrolds 1934);
  • South to Samarkand (London: Jarrolds 1936);
  • German Journey (London: Jarrolds [1948]) [ded. Col. Nigel Dugdale];
  • Jungle Journey (London: Jarrolds [1950]);
  • Moroccan Mosaic (London: Jarrolds 1953);
  • Land of the Crested Lion (London: Jarrolds 1955) [recording a trip to Burma];
  • The Country of the Sea (London: Jarrolds 1957) [on Brittany - Armorica];
  • A Lance for the Arabs (London: Hutchinson 1963);
  • The Road to Beersheba (London: Hutchinson 1963) [see note];
  • Aspects of Egypt (London: Hutchinson 1964);
  • Rebel’s Ride (London: Hutchinson 1964);
  • The Lovely Land: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (London: Hutchinson 1965), 197pp. + index [see extract];
  • An American Journey (London: Hutchinson 1967);
  • An Italian Journey (London: Hutchinson 1975).
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Miscellaneous
  • Commonsense and the Child (London: Jarrolds [1931]);
  • Commonsense and the Adolescent (London: Jarrolds 1937);
  • Women and the Revolution (London: Secker & Warburg 1938);
  • Christianity – or Chaos? (London: Jarrolds [1940]);
  • Commonsense and the Morality, with a preface by A. S. Neile (London: Jarrolds [1942]);
  • Comrade, O Comrade, or Low-Down on the Left (London: Jarrolds [1947]);
  • Two Studies in Integrity: Gerald Griffin and the Rev. Francis [Sylvester] Mahony [The Catholic Book Club] (London: Jarrolds 1954), 271pp. [of which pp.17-132 are devoted to Griffin].
  • Loneliness, A Study of the Human Condition (London: Hutchinson 1966).

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Commentary
Frank Tuohy, Yeats (London: Macmillan 1976), sought to make Yeats recommend Ossietski, a German political prisoner, for Nobel Award in 1936 (p.214); Yeats wrote to her: ‘I hate more than you do, for my hatred can have no expression in action. I am a forerunner of that horde that will some day come down from the mountains.’ (p.215); she twitted him for writing anti-English poems and drawing an English pension (p.216).

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A. N. Jeffares, W. B. Yeats: A New Biography (London: Macmillan 1988), writes: ‘In late December [Yeats’s] friendship with Ethel Mannin began in London; the letters he wrote to here are less interesting than those to Margaret Rudduck as they tend to deal with his health or arrangements for meetings rather than with literary matters. He liked to entertain in the Ivy Restaurant and introduce Ethel Mannin – as he had Margot Ruddock – to the Dulacs and to Norman Haire [the author of Rejuvenation, 1924]’ (p.314).

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Brenda Maddox, Yeats’s Ghosts: The Secret Life of W. B. Yeats (NY: HarperCollins 1999), writes: ‘Ethel Mannin was a rationalist and skeptical, he mystical and credulous. Politics divided them too. She was left-wing, just short of being a Marxist, and had recently returned starry-eyed from the Soviet Union; his leanings were firmly the other way. But that hardly mattered when, as a companion, she was brilliant, fun, and full of the salty talk that Yeats adored. She was not worried about his cultural baggage: “Yeats full of Brugundy and racy reminiscence was Yeats released from the Celtic Twilight and treading the antic hay with abundant zest.” / When their relationsihp became actively sexual is not known. [Norman] Haire had enlisted Ethel specifically to reassure Yeats about the success of the Steinach operation, and she had ... dress[ed] as seductively as possible.’ (Privileged Spectator, London 1939, p.81; Maddox, p.281.)

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Quotations
Privileged Spectator (1939) - on Yeats, at the time when she and Ernst Toller sought his support for the Nobel Prize bid of Carl von Ossietzky, then imprisoned by the Nazis who did in fact win, but died in Nazi custody: ‘He never meddled in political affairs, he said; he never had. At the urging of Maud Gonne he had signed the petition on behalf of Roger Casement, but that was all, and the Casement case was after all an Irish affair. He was a poet, and Irish, and had no interest in European political squabbles. His interest was Ireland, and Ireland had nothing to do with Europe politically: it was outside, apart. He was sorry, but this had always been his attitude.’ (p.84; quoted in R. F. Foster, W. B. Yeats: A Life - II: The Arch-Poet, OUP 2003, p.519.)

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Brief Voices (1959) - Author’s Note: ‘The last volume of autobiography I wrote, Privileged Spectator, was published in 1938 and was intended as a sequel to the Confessions and Impressions of ten years earlier. I was twenty-eight when I wrote the Confessions and what would nowadays be called an Angry Young Woman (though for some reason there are apparently only Angry Young Men) - angry with the existing social system, angry with the humbug of conventional morality, angry with the anti-life attitude of orthodox religion and the futility of orthodox education. Brash and cocksure as it all was at least I knew what I was angry about, which the so-called Angry Young Men who set out to enliven literature and the stage today don’t seem to - or if they do know fail to communicate it through their high-flown rantings and obscurities. By 1938 I had not one whit recanted the credo of my youth but the emphasis had shifted - indeed, it had already shifted some years before, round about 1934, when the jackboots began to march in Europe, and though there was no recanting in Privileged Spectator (and none now, twenty years later) the political preoccupations of the thirties - that tragic decade - necessarily made this book more sober reading than that written when it was still possible to believe that the first world war would be the last. There was everything to be angry about in the thirties, vastly more than in the twenties, but it was a different kind of anger; an anger with pain in it, and fear, and bitterness. / Twenty years later it is the same kind of anger, intensified; for we entered upon a new era when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; perhaps the last. / Nevertheless, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, we must somehow cling to the notion of the indestructibility of life - “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief!” The life that remains to us, be it much or little, we must live, and that intensely. [9] Life is an adventure from which we shall assuredly not emerge alive, but the living of that adventure is, as Peter Arno would say, fraught with interest. And a writer’s life should have a special quality of interest because of the intense awareness brought to it. / This book, therefore, is offered as a personal communication, concerned with personal adventures, personal emotions, and the author’s personal philosophy.’ E.M. [10].

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Brief Voices (1959) - cont.: We returned to London next day, and nine days later my father was dead, and looking at his dead face I knew, quite certainly, that there was no survival of personality after physical death - not that of particular personality, and in my search for truth no door as yet opened on to the idea of rebirth. / My father’s death in the public ward of a hospital was the culmination of a year of intense personal unhappiness; I had made bad karma - though of course I could not see it as such at the time - and what is ill-made cannot have other than ill results. My father had reached the end of a road which had begun in a Westminster slum seventy-five years before, and I also had reached the end of a road. [...; 78] Something I read so long ago that I have forgotten both the book and the author cannot be too often asserted - that we cannot love those we love enough, for we cannot know when they will be taken from us, and it may be suddenly. / And for those of us who have no belief in any survival of personality death is so terribly final.’ (pp.78-79; see also remarks on karma [attached].)

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Brief Voices (1959) - cont.: ‘I have for some years now not kept a diary. A diary can be useful as a record of dates and places, but it can also become a bad habit, an emotional self-indulgence, a morbid recording of things better forgotten, a fixing of things by their nature transient and ephemeral. The key-word here is “can”; one must have, perhaps, a special temperament, a quality of greatness, to keep a diary which rises above such subjective trivia. There are the world-famous diaries and journals for which the world is grateful; in these the trivia is of value because it illuminates the lives of the great or famous. We are interested to read, for example, poor Katharine Mansfield’s “huge complaining diaries”, but whether it was good for her to keep them is another matter. When I was writing my Connemara Journal I was not much inclined to agree with Rabindranath Tagore’s dictum that the keeping of a diary gave distorted importance to the passing moment; now I entirely agree. / But there is a distinction between the journal and the diary; a journal is not a rigid day-by-day affair and is therefore less liable to this distortion; it is, usually, a record of some particular event or phase - Captain Scott’s tragic, precious journal of the expedition; Arthur Young’s valuable - and delightful - journal of his travels in France. For myself I was charmed to see the torn-up fragments of the record of an unhappy year floating away on the [80] blue phosphorescent waters of the Indian Ocean. (I was less charmed when, the diary operation successfully carried out, I returned to my deck chair and wrote a letter, only to have the hot high wind whip it out of my hands when I came to fold it and fling that too into the deep blue sea.)’ (pp.80-81.)

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Brief Voices (1959) - cont.: [I]n May [1951] I began my second first-person novel (the first was Proud Heaven, written in 1943), Lover Under Another Name. It was the story of “Tom Rowse”, sculptor, and his own particular Vision of Christ, and I considered it at the time and still do consider it religious in a far deeper sense than Late Have I Loved Thee, because whereas “Francis Sable”, in his preoccupation with the Roman Catholic Church, was concerned with ritual and dogma, the trappings of Christianity, “Tom Rowse” was concerned with what he himself called “the little more and the little less and how much it is of the Nazarene story”. Like Rodin when he carved his Portal of Hell, and Blake when he wrote his Prophetic Books, he was after some kind of prophetic vision. His Vision of Christ was Blake’s. He too had visionary gleams of the authentic dayspring from on high. Like Blake he knew “of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body and mind to exercise the divine arts of imagination - imagination, the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow, and in which we shall live in our eternal or imaginative bodies, when these vegetable bodies are no more. What is the divine spirit? Is the Holy Ghost any other than an intellectual fountain? Is God a spirit who must be worshipped in [87] spirit and in truth, and are not the gifts of the spirit everything to a man?“’

[See further under Joyce Cary, q.v., Commentary [infra]; also remarks on Two Studies in Integrity (1954) [attached], and on karma [attached.]

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The Lovely Land: The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (1965): ‘the Arab world needs tolerance and understanding from the West, it is a different order of civilisation, and the West has not the monopoly of virtue. / The Arab world is unified as never before, and it needs that unity as never before. Arab strength is in unity, and against it, in the final reckoning, the injustice of Occupied Palestine, at the heart of the Arab homeland, cannot prevail.’ (p.197.) Mannin writes about the planned diversion of the Jordan to the benefit of Israel - which she cites in inverted commas - and quotes a Biblical verse: ‘And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not, do ye eat.’ (Joshua XXIV, ii), calling it ‘a strking parallel with the situation today.’ (“The Jordan Waters”, p.157.) Also expresses herself in sympathy with the view that, in their occupation of Palestine, the people who had been the victims of that [Nazi] terror had in turn become “terror’s fierce practitioners”’ (p.175) adding herself that ‘it was so strange that a people who had suffered so much themseles should use such terrorist tactics upon the Arabs, who had no party in the Nazi - or any other - persecution of the Jews.’ (p.176.)

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Letter to Flann O’Brien [on At Swim-Two-Birds] (1939): ‘With the best will in the world I find I cannot read those Birds (what does the title mean, please, if it means anything?) any more than I can read Ulysses. I don’t understand this wilful obscurity & am baffled by Graeme Green’s [sic] enthusiasm for something so obscure. If it is true as you assert that most novels have been written before and written better, why not leave it that Joyce has done this sort of thing before? If one is to imitate then why not something that can be understood by one’s audience? It is not very difficult to imitate the obscurantists but not at all easy to imitate shall we say Shakespeare, who was not above making his meaning; for the younger novelist’s response, see under O’Brien, Quotations, infra.)

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Christianity and Chaos’ (in Connemara Journal, 1947): ‘[I]n months of solitude in that lonely Connemara cottage I discovered in a kind of slow spiritual revelation, how God could be, for a devout Catholic people, “nearer than the door”. Also, with reference to her own meditation on death: ‘when W. B. Yeats sent me in a letter his then newly composed but now famous epitaph I replied that one should not think of death and he replied with some irritation “that that was spoken like an Englishwoman” - and he insisted on the Irish in me.’ Irish Protestants shown as snobbish and isolated. Mannin expresses concern over the chaos in middle Europe and regrets the absence of Christian mass[es?].

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References

Websites
See a full account of her novels and career in Bookrags.Com [online]. See also the Wikipedia article [online], which supplies full bibliography but limited biography. Note that the reference to her ‘well-publicised affair ’ is copied on numerous sites.
13.10.2010


Desmond Clarke
, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), lists The Blossoming Bough (London: Jarrolds 1943) [takes an Irishman to Paris, and thence to the Spanish Civil War, finally faithful to his Cathleen ni Houlihan, his actress and his cousin Katherine O’Donal]; Late Have I Loved Thee (London: Jarrolds 1947), 350pp. [when Cathyn Sable dies in a climbing accident, her deeply attached brother Francis becomes a Catholic and joins the Jesuits in Milltown, Ireland; ‘a vivid and exacting picture of a man’s struggle to sanctity’, acc. Clarke]; The Wild Swans and Other Tales based on the Ancient Irish (London: Jarrolds 1952), 158pp. [versions of ‘Children of Lir’; ‘Wooing of Etain’; ‘Diarmid and Grainne’]; Pity for the Innocent (1957) [Terence Brilling’s mother kills her young loved and is executed; as he grows up, he learns the truth and suffers accordingly - against capital punishment].

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Publishers’ blurp (1959) - ‘Ethel Mannin has published sixty-one books - thirty-five novels, six volumes of short stories, and nineteen non-fiction works. at the age of six she was already writing stories and poems and declaring her intention of being what she then called “an authoress” when she grew up. She broke into print on the children’s page of a woman’s paper at the age of eleven. At seventeen she wa associate-editor of the old theatrical and sporting paper, the Pelican. She was twenty-two when he first novel appeared; it had been entered for a first-novel competition in which it came in second. her reputation as a wrirer is founded on honesty and unorthodoxy. For some years past she has done most of her writing in retreat in a cottage in the remote west of Ireland, the country of her ancestors.’ (Dust-jacket, back, Brief Voices, 1959; with photo-port. by Paul Tanqueray.

There is a Wikipedia page on Mannin [online]

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Eggeley Books (Cat. 44) lists Sabishisa (London: Hutchinson 1961), [xii], 13-284pp., the story of a Japanese family.

Belfast Central Public Library holds Connemara Journal (1947); Two Studies in Integrity (1954); Wild Swans (1952).

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Notes
W. B. Yeats (1): In Yeats’s Ghosts: The Secret Life of W. B. Yeats (NY: HarperCollins 1999), Brenda Maddox writes: ‘Mannin took Yeats to task for drawing a pension from the British Crown and elicited this reply:  “It was given at a time when Ireland was represented in parliament and voted out of the taxes of both countries. It was not voted annually, my surrender of it would not leave a vacancy for anybody else ... The second time it was offered it was explained to me that it implied no political bargain. ... I consider that I have earned that pension by services done to the people.’ (Letter to Mannin, 11 Dec. 1936; Wade, ed., Letters, pp.872-73; Maddox, q.p.)

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W. B. Yeats (2): There is also a passing reference to Mannin in Richard Ellmann, Yeats: The Man and the Masks (1948), concerning the new friendships that Yeats sought out in the 1930s, among them ‘Ethel Mannin, whose naturalness he had always striven for [...]’ (p.279).

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W. B. Yeats (3): R. F. Foster quotes Oliver St. John Gogarty’s writing that Mannin told him she ‘did [her] best for him’ after his Steinach operation; but, of course, without effect!’ She described his ‘hunger for a swan-song of passionate love ... and his inability to secure it’ to Richard Ellmann. Foster further quotes a letter from Mrs. Yeats to Gogarty in which she makes mention of a woman in London - viz., Margot Ruddock - whom WBY is ‘very much in love with’, quoting Gogarty’s remark to James A. Healey - to whom he was trying to sell the letter - that her frankness ‘goes to show that she [Mrs. Yeats] knew his love-making was altogether mental.’ (Foster, W. B. Yeats [II]: The Arch-Poet, pp.512-13.)

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W. B. Yeats (4): Foster further quotes from Gogarty’s correspondence with Norah Hoult, taking the form of a Boswell-style account of Yeats’s conversation when asked what he had been taught by women - a lesson which Foster refers to his encounter with Mannin’s feminism: ’Only this: never to regard them as half-creatures to be triumphed over, nor madonnas to be worshipped. But just equals who have to sustain the destiny of our daughters and our mothers: a lot so disportioned to ours, that it becomes incumbent on us to conceal our pity for them lest they take offence. Because their courage outsoars their destiney, they are more touchy than we imagine. Our “chivalry” insults them: at least in these ways.’ (Gogarty to Hoult, 2 Jan [recte Feb.] 1935; Bucknell Univ.; Foster, op. cit., p.514.)

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W. B. Yeats (3): Mannin writes in Privileged Spectator that her socialism was ‘something deeply, fundamentally, felt, colouring all one thinks and feels, all one’s reactions to people and things’ (p.117). Yeats wrote to her: ‘do not let it [propaganda] come too much into your life. I have lived in the midst of it, I have always been a propagandist though I have kept it out of my poems & it will embitter your soul with hatred as it has mine.’ (Letter of 4 March 1935.) Foster quotes from this letter at length: ‘You are doubly a woman, first because of yourself & secondly because of the muses, whereas I am but once a woman. Bitterness is more fatal to us than it is to lawyers or journalists who had nothing to do with the feminine muses. Our traditions only permit us to bless, for the arts are an extension of the beatitudes. Blessed be heroic death (Shakespear’s tragedies) blessed be the heroic life (Cervantes) blessed be the wise (Balzac) [...; &c.]’ (Foster, op. cit.., p.515.) Yeats’s letter develops into a discussion of Arabian Nights, which he was reading daily, before adding a postscript endorsing Scheherazade’s statement that ‘it is not shameful to talk of the things that lie beneath our belts’. Foster remarks that Yeats here uses his ‘private metaphor “beatitudes” without its usual erotic implication.’ (Foster, op. cit., p.516.)

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Men Are Unwise (1934), a novel dedicated ‘To all who love mountains’, includes discussions of love, marriage, fidelity and the acceptance of reality. In Privileged Spectator (1939) Mannin writes that she saw as a failed novel: ‘the mountain-loving hero emerges as tiresome and apparently it is difficult to care whether he climbs a mountain or not. ... I wanted the conflict between his passion for mountains and his love for his wife to be a big thing, something really profound; but I failed to bring it off, which is more disappointing to me than it could possibly be to any reader.’ See also tried to adapt it as a play. (See Bookrags.com online; accessed 13.10.2010.)

The Road to Beersheba (1963) - cover notice: ‘This is the story of the exodus from the small Palestinian town of Lydda, which was occupied by the Israeli troops in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, when, with the refugees from Ramleh and the surrounding villages, some hundred thousand people, mainly women, children and old men - the young men having been rounded up - trekked through the burning wilderness to Ramallah, which was in Arab hands. Thousands died of sunstroke, exhaustion and thirst.’ (See Books & Ink Booskshop website - this book online; accessed 27.10.2010.] Note that Mannin speaks with the King of Jordan about making her book into a film and is ‘ ’ told by him ‘We shall make it!’ (The Lovely Land, 1965, p.146.)

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Elizabeth Rivers: In Brief Lives (1959), Mannin wrotes that Rivers illustrated that ‘ill-fated book’ Connemara Journal with ‘some delightful wood-engravings’ and designed a jacket for Late Have I Loved Thee and Bavarian Story - but ‘[i]n spite of mutual liking, and much in common besides Ireland, the friendship seemed curiously “star-crossed” from the beginning and finally expired in a mutual pained bewilderment when, following a visit to Palestine, she wrote a book whcih could be regarded as none other than a boost for the iniquitous State of “Israel” - whatever artist’s above-the-strife impartiality she might claim for it.’ (Brief Voices, p.68.)

Bertha Hertogh: was a Dutch girl left in Java during the war and brought up by a Muslim family, and married to a schoolteacher at 14; reclaimed by her parents, and object of a court case and Muslim rioting when she was flown back to Holland; later converted to Catholicism, the religion of her parents, and married a Dutchman. (See Mannin, Brief Voices, 1959, p.94.)

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Agnosticism?: Mannin stated in an autobiographical writing that Late Have I Loved Thee, a work responsible for many vocations, was ‘written without any belief in that [i.e., Roman Catholic] church’ [q. source]. Note that the title is taken from Sheed’s translation of St. Augustine’s lines in the Confessions: ‘Too late have I loved thee’ (see Brief Lives, p.65.) Mannin writes that she was herself ‘so drawn to the Church at that time that on on a bare whitewashed wall of the sitting-room at the Connemara cottage I had a large wooden crucifix.’ (Ibid., p.66.)

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Flann O’Brien [O’Nolan] wrote to her with a copy of At-Swim, seeking support and encouragement. Cronin writes, ‘.. best-selling popular novelist of the day ... Ethel Mannin was an expert sentimental and popular author who was probably a judge of public acceptability but little else. (See Anthony Cronin, No Laughing Matter, 1989, p.103.)

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Francis Stuart, For details of her involvement in his post-war rehabilitation see Geoffrey Elborn, Francis Stuart: A Life (1990).

Albert Schweitzer: In Brief Voices (1959) Mannin recounts how she turned vegetarian after her journey to Burma, though castigating the sophistry of the Buddhist Burmese who eat meat provided others kill it, and contests Schweitzer’s dilemma (Selbstentzweiung) ‘of being able to preserve one’s own life and life generally at the cost of other life’ in works such as My Life and Thought and Civilization and Ethics. (Brief Lives, pp.123-24.)

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Misinformation: In Brief Voices (1959) Mannin expresses her interest in bookseller’s catalogues and cites some Irish items which seem to indicate the limit of her grasp of the literature in question: ‘E. E. Evans’s Irish Heritage, published at Dundalk in 1842 [sic], and offered with uncut edges for twelve shillings, was an item to linger over, along with an even more interesting item for twenty-five shillings - “Ireland, Molyneux (Wm.). Case of Ireland’s being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated. 1st Edn. sm. 8vo, old calf, Bagot crest on sides. 1698.” The bookseller’s note on this was, “This was a textbook on the Irish side. It was answered by John Cary, Bristol Merchant, in A Vindication of the Parliament of England, 1698.”’ (p.267.) Elsewhere in the book she cites Arthur Young’ Tour of France but makes no mention of his Tour of Ireland (vide pp.80, 152, 154.)

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The Magic Suit: ‘Miss Ethel Mannin, the writer, said at Middlesex Sessions yesterday that when her husband died she had his tweed suit altered so that she could wear it, hoping that it would remind a convicted man they had befriended of his promise to go straight until the suit dropped off her husband. She was speaking on behalf of Frank Arthur Stanley, (58), of no fixed address [...]’ (‘Ethel Mannin’s Plea for Prisoner’, in The Irish News and Belfast Morning News, 25 April 1961, [q.p.]; for full story, see attached.)

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