Amanda McKittrick Ros

Life
1860-1939 [née Anna Margaret M’Kittrick; purportedly Amanda Malvina Fitzalan Anna Margaret McLelland M’Kittrick after heroine in Regina Maria Roche’s gothic novel Children of the Abbey] b. 8 Dec., Dromaness, nr. Ballynahinch, Co. Down; dg. of Edward Amlane M’Kittrick, head teacher of Drumaness High School; ed., Marlborough Coll., Dublin, TTC, 1884-86; took up post in Larne, and m. Larne station master, Andrew Ross, 30 August 1887 [aetat 17]; given money by him on their 10th anniversary to publish her first novel, Irene Iddesleigh, composed before her 16th birthday, and was described in a review by humourist Barry Pain as ‘the book of the century’, causing him to become an arch enemy, lambasted in Delina Delaney (1898) as a ‘cancerous irritant wart’ and at his death in a poem entitled “The End of ‘Pain’”; made sufficient money from the novel to built a house in Larne named ‘Iddesleigh’; inherited lime kiln, 1908, and involved in 5-year legal battle, forming a hatred of lawyers; death of Mr. Ross, Aug. 1917, after retirement two years previously occasioned by stress of wartime activity; m. Thomas Rodgers, 1922; a final novel publ. posthumously, Helen Huddleson, makes her heroine journey to Stranraer to meet Andres Ross at Larne, describing him as a station agent ‘whose genial manner and exemplary courteousness are widely known’; reputedly Mark Twain added one of her books to his library of ‘hogwash literature’ [but see infra], also poems, Poems of Puncture (1913); Fumes of Formation (1933); d. 3 Feb. 1939; Helen Huddleson, an unfinished novel, was completed by Jack Loudan (1969), while T. Stanley Mercer edited St. Scandalbags (1954) is a satire on Wyndam Lewis; Aldous Huxley, who called her novels ‘classics’, formed a club with other mock-admirers to exchange quotations; some of her manuscripts are held in the Belfast Central Library Irish Collection; a competition turnign on the challenge to recite her verse at length without smiling was conducted by the BBC Northern Ireland at the John Hewitt bar of the Celebrate Belfast Lit. Festival (26 Sept. 2006). OCEL IF2 DIL DIW ATT DUB OCIL

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Works
Fiction, Irene Iddlesleigh (Belfast: W. & G. Baird 1897; reps. London: Nonesuch 1926; NY: Boni & Liveright 1927), and Do., rep. in Martin Seymour-Smith, ed., Cupful of Tears: Sixteen Victorian Novelettes ([London:] Wolfe Publishing Co. 1965), pp.9-81; Delina Delaney (Belfast: R Aickin 1898; London: Chatto & Windus 1935); Donald Dudley, The Bastard Critic (Thames Ditton, Surrey: Merle 1954), fragmentary novel; Jack Loudan, ed. [with additional chapter], Helen Huddleston (London: Chatto & Windus 1969).

Poems, Poems of Puncture (London: Arthur H Stockwell 1913); Fumes of Formation (Belfast: R Carswell 1933).

Criticism, T. Stanley Mercer, ed. St. Scandalbags together with Meet Ireene by D. B. Wyndham Lewis & At the Sing of the Harrow by F. Anstey (Thames Ditton, Surrey: Merle 1954).

Miscellaneous, Bayonets of Bastard Sheen (East Sheen: priv. 1949) [letters]; Frank Ormsby, ed. & intro., Thine in Calm and Storm: an Amanda McKittrick Ros Reader (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1988).

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Criticism
Aldous Huxley, ‘Eupheus Redivivus’, in On the Margin (London: Chatto & Windus 1923); Jack Loudan, O Rare Amanda!: The Life of Amanda McKittrick Ros (London: Chatto & Windus 1954; 2nd edn., new pref. 1969). See also references to the sentimental novelist in Louie Bennett, by R. M. Fox (1950), p.15.

Radio, Denis Johnston, radio feature (BBC, 12 July 1943); George Shiels, adaptation of Irene Iddlesleigh (BBC, 25 July 1943) [unpub.]; “Is this the world’s worst writer?”, BBCNorthern Ireland (19 Sept. 2006) [infra & online].

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Commentary
Kim Bielenberg, ‘An Irishman’s Diary’, 1 & 2 Jan. 1997, notes that her Irene Iddlesleigh was sent to Mark Twain by John Horner, a Belfast engineer, and proclaimed ‘enchanting’ and one of the great works of ‘Hogwash Literature’; quotes the ordering of the will to be produced: ‘Demanded then and there that the pen of persuasion be dipped into the ink of revenge and spread thickly along the paragraph of blood-related charity to blank the intolerable words that referred to the woman he was now convinced, beyond doubt, had braved the bridge of bigamy.’; also quotes Helen Huddleson, ‘They reached Canada after a very pleasant trip across the useful pond that stimulates the backbone of commerce more than any other known element since Noah, captain of the flood, kicked the bucket.’

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Quotations
The Lawyer”, ‘Beneath me here in stinking clumps / Lies Lawyer Largebones, all in lumps; / A rotten mass of clockholed clay, / Which grown more honeycombed each day. / See how the rats have scratched his face? / Now so unlike the human race; / I very much regret I can't Assist them in their eager “bent”.’ (Poems of Puncture, 1912)

Irene Iddesleigh (1897): ‘Mocking Angel! The trials of a tortured throng / Are naught when weighed in the balance of future anticipations. / The living sometimes learn the touchy tricks of the traitor, the tardy, and the tempted; / The dead have evaded the flighty earthly future, / And form to swell the retinue of retired rights, / The righteous school of the invisible, / And the rebellious roar of the raging nothing.’ (The foregoing both quoted on BBC News - Northern Ireland, as cited in Criticism, supra.

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References
Blackstaff Catalogue (1988) quotes Brian Fallon’s comparison of Ros with William McGonagall: ‘What he did in verse, she did in prose; and the results are equally hilarious - unconscious humour raised to a level of genius.’

Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast, holds Delina Delaney [&] Fumes of Formation (Belfast 1933); Irene Iddesleigh (Belfast 1907) [[signed copy]; St Scandalbags (Merel Press 1954) [signed by Merel]; Poems of Puncture (London n.d.) [signed copy]; Bayonets of Bastard Sheen (1954) [No. 6 of 50 signed Donald Dudley].

Belfast Public Library holds Iddlesleigh (1897); Delina Delaney (n.d.); Poems of Puncture (1921); Fumes of Formation (1933); Bayonets of Bastard Sheen (1949); St. Scandalbags (1954).

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Notes
Jack Loudan: In his study, O Rare Amanda! (1954), Loudan that ‘she writes with a burning imagination that will disregard sense should it hinder the intensity of her invention.’

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