LETTERS TO A FRIEND: 1950-1952 by Rose Macaulay


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This unusual book is a gay and charming, witty and thoughtful collection of letters written by Dame Rose in about her 70th year to Father Hamilton Johnson, her spiritual mentor. Essentially intimate, their publication- after her death- will be regarded by few as a breach of privacy (she had wanted all her personal correspondence destroyed) but rather as an enriching experience which many will want to share. Their background is unusual. Rose Macaulay, a descendant of a long line of divines, Anglican, Puritan and Roman Catholic, was brought up in the Church of England. In her thirties she made an Anglican retreat, and met Father Johnson and had a brief talk with him. In the successive years, she become involved in the literary and social world of her time, a friend of Forster, Virginia Wolff and Victoria Sackville-West. During the period she had a secret and discreet love affair with a married man for twenty years. In 1941, during the war, he died, her apartment and fine library was bombed out, and she lost her spiritual bearings wandering in what she called The World My Wilderness, a novel of this period. One day in 1950 she returned from a journey- she was an avid traveller-to find a note from Father Johnson. From this moment a brilliant correspondence ensued, and her letters to him are collected here. Father Johnson became the guide of this elderly but vigorous woman. As he wrote to the editor, ""I was able to give her a little push back to where she belonged, inside the church, instead of standing on the porch; and she has been grateful to me ever since, and has written me letters which have quickened and polished up my mind more than any school, college or university did..."" Thoroughly delightful, literate, human and humorous, the letters will bring pleasure and illumination to many readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1961
Publisher: Atheneum