Inez Holden: “Adventuress” to Socialist
The writing and working history of Inez Holden confirms an unfortunate paradox; although Holden was socially the best connected of the writers I discuss in this book— the daughter of gentry, she was painted by Augustus John, appears in memoirs by Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell, lived in H. G. Wells’s mews flat during the Blitz, was George Orwell’s friend until his death in 1950 — she remains the most obscure figure in my group of radical eccentrics. Only with the publication of Jenny Hartley’s feminist study, Millions Like Us, did Holden’s name come to the attention of a wide audience. This chapter expands on Hartley’s recovery of Holden, demonstrating how Holden’s voice counted for Orwell, Smith, and Anand, and arguing that it should count for anyone intrigued by literary London of the 1930s and 1940s. Scholars of intermodernism, in particular, should find Holden interesting in part because she transformed herself from a high-jinx party girl, the Lopez of Smith’s The Holiday, into a writer of wartime documentaries praised by H. G. Wells and J. B. Priestley. The story of her shifts from interwar frivolity to wartime seriousness provides scholars with invaluable representations of classic intermodern obsessions: workers, work, and total war. A writer of comedie fictions about labor, war, and Englishness, Holden is of special value to critics who are frustrated by the relatively low numbers of women writers who are cited in surveys of English industrial or working-class fiction, war writing, or comedy.1
KeywordsNight Shift Woman Worker Woman Writer Radical Eccentric Country House
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