Work on the #CriticalEditions project is gathering pace, although the result is a bit like decorating a room and finding crumbling, damp plaster under the old wallpaper. All this has to be corrected before new wallpaper can be hung and you finally see the results of your efforts in all their colourful glory! The General Editors have been sourcing all UK1 editions and producing the digital copy texts that will enable us to get started on the real work of editing. Tracking down all the short fiction has been a very slow, tricky and stop-start process, but barring one trip to the British Library Claire has now traced every variant, including one never-published manuscript copied by Becky from the Kislak Centre, UPenn. This should save a lot of work as we move onto Tranche 2, in which the second volume is being edited by Paul March-Russell. Copy-texts are on the way to being completed for ‘Defence’ and ‘New Idealism’, so work can soon begin in earnest on our first, philosophical tranche. In the meantime, any tips on use of MVED software for compiling variants would be very gratefully received! It’s slow, but we are starting to see progress.
It’s been a busy summer for the May Sinclair Society and for the General Editors on the critical editions project. Our call for editors for the critical editions had an overwhelming response and we are delighted to announce the line-up of individual volume editors and the shape of the editions project.
The Edinburgh Critical Editions of the Works of May Sinclair will be published in themed tranches: ‘Philosophy and Mysticism’, ‘Psychology and Genius’, ‘Women, War and Feminism’, ‘Social Satire’ and ‘Social Realism’. Within these tranches, non-fiction and fiction appear side by side so that the dialogues between each can be explored. The Sinclair editions will position Sinclair as philosopher, psychologist, and cultural historian as well as novelist. Work on the first tranche is already underway.
Philosophy and Mysticism
Collected Shorter Fiction vol. 1 (1895-1912) ed. by Claire Drewery and Luke Thurston
A Defence of Idealism (1917) ed. by Claire Drewery and Colin Tyler
Mary Olivier: A Life (1919) ed. by Rebecca Bowler and Claire Drewery
The New Idealism (1922) ed. by Rebecca Bowler and James Connelly
Arnold Waterlow: A Life (1924) ed. by Rebecca Bowler
Psychology and Genius
The Divine Fire (1904) ed. by Claire Drewery
The Creators: A Comedy (1910) ed. by Vicki Mahaffey and Wendy Truran
The Three Brontës (1912) ed. by Gerri Kimber
Collected Shorter Fiction vol. 2 (1913-1931) ed. by Paul March-Russell
The Three Sisters (1914) ed. by Howard Finn
Life and Death of Harriett Frean (1922) ed. by Charlotte Beyer
Women, War and Feminism
The Helpmate (1907) ed. by Charlotte Jones
Kitty Tailleur (1908) ed. by Annalise Grice
A Journal of Impressions in Belgium (1915) ed. by Laurel Forster
The Tree of Heaven (1917) ed. by George Johnson
The Romantic (1920) ed. by Stephanie Jones
Anne Severn and the Fieldings (1922) ed. by Andrew Frayn
Collected Non-Fiction (1882-1928) ed. by Sanna Melin Schyllert and Leigh Wilson
The Combined Maze (1913) ed. by Chrissie Van Mierlo and Wim Van Mierlo
Tasker Jeavons: The Real Story/The Belfry (1916), ed by Rebecca Bowler
Far End (1926), ed. by Leslie de Bont
The Allinghams (1927), ed. by Faye Pickrem
History of Anthony Waring (1927), tbc.
Audrey Craven (1897), ed. by Anna Girling
Mr and Mrs Nevill Tyson/The Tysons (1898), ed. by Faye Pickrem
Mr Waddington of Wyck (1921), ed. by Isobel Maddison
A Cure of Souls (1924), ed. by Joanna Scutts
The Rector of Wyck (1925), ed. by Aoife Byrne
Two volumes in the later tranches are as yet unclaimed, and will be assigned further down the line.
We’ve also been busy writing the editorial handbook, beginning grant applications, and presenting the editions at conferences: BAMS Modernist Life (a special panel on editing Sinclair’s philosophical works, with Rebecca Bowler, James Connelly, Claire Drewery, and Colin Tyler), Remaking the New: Modernism and Textual Scholarship, and ICVWW’s Reassessing Women Writers 1900s-1910s. Here’s Rebecca Bowler presenting on editing Mary Olivier and Arnold Waterlow at Remaking the New, Queen Mary University, 13 July 2017.
The May Sinclair Society would like to offer happy and hearty congratulations to Leslie de Bont, who has received the “Prix de thèse André Topia (études modernistes)” for her PhD thesis on May Sinclair: ‘Like anecdotes from a case-book: Dialogues entre discours théoriques et cas particuliers dans les romans de May Sinclair. The André Topia prize is part of a prestigious series of prizes called “Les Prix de la Chancellerie des Universités de Paris”. La Chancellerie des Universités is a 800 years old organisation that oversees all the higher-education institutions in Paris and the suburbs. There are about 60 prizes, and they are given each year to the best research/PhD thesis defended in Paris. The ceremony took place on the 1st December 2016 in the Grand Amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne, which dates back from 1889. In the photo Leslie is shaking hands with the Head of the University Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle, the University where she defended her thesis.
Leslie says: ‘Among other things, the prize will help me translate and publish my thesis, and it will definitely bring Sinclair some attention in France’!
Dec: 31: 1917
Dear Mr. Lane
My best thanks for W. Van de Weer’s book – wh. interested me very much. A little too much topography, perhaps, for the human drama. It’s essentially a short story & oughtn’t to have been stretched & padded into a novel. Still, it’s clever & I had to finish it.
With kindest regards to you & Mrs. Lane & best wishes for 1918.
The letter belongs to Emily Fennell, who owns a collection of Sinclair first editions. Emily found the letter tucked inside her copy of Sinclair’s book length poem The Dark Night, which she had bought from a second hand seller on abebooks. She said ‘[I] don’t even think I noticed the letter until some time later. I don’t think I would have selected that particular copy because of the letter or signed aspect (nice as they are) but simply because it was the only one available’.
The original listing mentions the letter but doesn’t make any great fanfare about its presence tucked inside the book:
Limited to 150 copies Signed and numbered by the author. With an ALS from Sinclair to London publisher John Lane laid in.
It is unclear how intimately Sinclair knew John Lane. Theophilus Boll places her at a party Lane gave in 1914 to launch Wyndham Lewis’s Blast! (‘May Sinclair enjoyed herself hugely with Ivor Brown at the dinner that John Lane gave on July 15, 1914, at the Dieudonné Restaurant in Ryder Street, St. James, to set off the Blast!’).1 Ivor Brown said of this ‘I don’t know how far M.S. was impressed, but at that period she liked to go about and be in the midst of literary goings-on’.2 If Sinclair and Lane were both integral and enthusiastic participants in the London literary ‘scene’ then it’s possible they saw each other regularly.
Sinclair also wrote an introduction for Lane’s publication of The Closed Door by the illustrator Jean de Bosschère in September 1917 in which she praised the poet and illustrator’s ‘Sharpness, precision, purity, the cold clearness of crystal, hardness attained by concentration, by sheer pressure of spiritual intensity’.3 Bosschère later illustrated Uncanny Stories for its publication in 1923.
The writer Sinclair refers to as ‘W. Van de Weer’ is probably Willem de Veer, whose novels An Emperor in the Dock (1915) and Revoke (1917) had been published by John Lane: The Bodley Head. He also wrote a series of epistolary articles for The New Age titled ‘Holland and the World War.’ Ads for two of his novels (Battle Royal and The Emperor in the Dock) appear respectively in the first and second Blast. It’s unclear which of these novels Sinclair is referring to, but it is likely to be Revoke, published in 1917.
The New Age in 1921 also published a ‘pastiche’ poem by de Veer about an author whose ghost reflects on his lack of success after his death: http://library.brown.edu/pdfs/1140814887289219.pdf
Thanks are due to Joanna Bek and Tyler Babbie for their research expertise and their help in tracing the identity and literary outputs of de Veer!
[edit: 03/11/16. Philippa Martindale suggests that Sinclair adds the ‘Van’ in de Weer’s name because she is mixing up two authors: Willem de Veer and Lenore Van de Veer, who she refers to in two letters, one dated 1 December 1915 and one dated 8 June 1918. Thanks are also due to Philippa for her help with the transcription of the letter].
1 Theophilus Boll, Miss May Sinclair: Novelist (Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1973), p. 106.
2 Ibid., p. 158.
3 Jean de Bosschère, The Closed Door (London: John Lane, 1917), p. 6.