Winifred Holtby: “South Riding” and more
Posted by: Misha Stone
I just love reprints, especially books by British women authors in the early 20th century. So when PBS aired its “South Riding” mini-series, I was thrilled to discover the author Winifred Holtby. The series was popular on PBS and the Guardian chronicled how Holtby’s own mother tried to halt the publication of the novel. It seems that Holtby was as strong-willed and radical as her main character, the spirited schoolteacher Sarah Burton.
Virago Modern Classics has released South Riding as well as several other lost classics by Holtby, all in fetching covers: Anderby Wold, Poor Caroline and The Land of Green Ginger.
Holtby, born in 1898 and died in 1935, was a woman ahead of her time who made feminist statements in her short life and work. Vera Brittain wrote about Holtby in Testament of Friendship. The deep friendship between Holtby and Brittain has been cause for much literary analysis and speculation. It’s clear that Brittain was a great champion of her dear friend’s literary legacy following her death at the age of 37.
What is wonderful is to see an author’s works back in print and available in the U.S. following a popular program. I, for one, can’t wait to delve into Holtby’s delectable backlist and imagine that many a book group would be rewarded by doing the same.