Amanda McKittrick Ros
1860-1939 [née Anna Margaret MKittrick; purportedly Amanda
Malvina Fitzalan Anna Margaret McLelland MKittrick after heroine
in Regina Maria Roches gothic novel Children of the Abbey]
b. 8 Dec., Dromaness, nr. Ballynahinch, Co. Down; dg. of Edward Amlane
MKittrick, 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
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:
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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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 worlds worst writer?, BBCNorthern Ireland (19 Sept. 2006) [infra & online].
Kim Bielenberg, An Irishmans 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.
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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Blackstaff Catalogue (1988) quotes Brian Fallons 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
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.