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This Rare Spirit Reviews

This Rare Spirit by Julia Copus

This Rare Spirit: A Life of Charlotte Mew

Julia Copus

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1 review

Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 15 Apr 2021
ISBN: 9780571313532

The first comprehensive biography of this undervalued writer, who was considered 'far and away the best living woman poet' in her day.

4 stars out of 5
John Carey
28 Mar 2021

" a triumph of precise scholarship and imaginative sympathy"

Copus is alert to political resonances. Mew wrote at a time of ardent debate about women’s rights, and contributed several pieces to the feminist periodical The Englishwoman. Her most horrifying story, A White Night — available in Copus’s Charlotte Mew, Selected Poetry and Prose (2019) — tells of monks ceremoniously burying a nun alive beneath the flagstones of a Spanish cathedral. For Copus it represents Freda buried alive in her asylum, and Charlotte buried in responsibilities. When Anne died of cancer in 1927 Charlotte tried to go on living, perhaps for Freda’s sake, and entered a nursing home tended by nuns. But on March 28, 1928 she went out, bought disinfectant from the chemist, drank it and took her own life.