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Hope Mirrlees (1887 - 1978)

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Books by this author: Collected Poems
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  • Helen Hope Mirrlees was born on 8 April 1887 in Chislehurst, Kent. She grew up in Scotland and was educated at St Leonard’s School in St Andrews. She briefly attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before entering Newnham College, Cambridge in 1910, to study classics. There she met the classics scholar Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928) and the two women became companions until Harrison’s death. Hope visited Paris intermittently from 1913 onwards, before taking up residence there with Harrison in 1922. The two women studied Russian at the École des Langues Orientales and translated two works from the Russian: The Life of the Archpriest Avvakum by Himself (1924) and The Book of the Bear, a collection of Russian folktales (1926). Hope’s first novel, Madeleine: One of Love’s Jansenists (1919) was followed by her long poem Paris, published by the Hogarth Press in 1920. Two other novels were published in the 1920s, The Counterplot (1924) and the fantasy novel Lud-in-the-Mist (1926). After Jane Harrison’s death, Hope converted to Catholicism and, in the 1940s, moved to South Africa. She did not publish again until 1962, with A Fly in Amber, a biography of the British antiquarian Sir Robert Bruce Cotton. Three slim volumes of her poetry appeared during these later years, which culminated in the Amate Press edition of Moods and Tensions (1976), introduced by Raymond Mortimer. In later life, she returned to England and died at the age of ninety-one on 1 August 1978.

    Praise for Hope Mirrlees (1887 - 1978) 'Sandeep Parmar’s edition of Hope Mirrlees’ poetry is a testimony to modern scholarship and provides a missing piece of the British modernist  jigsaw.'
    Matthew Mitton, Women: A Cultural Review
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