The Selected Letters of Alice Meynell: Poet and Essayist (BOK)
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The Catholic convert and women of letters Alice Meynell (1847-1922) ranks as a sophisticated essayist and poet of the late Victorian period and the early twentieth century. She had the advantage of an educated father and a musical mother who spent much of their early time with the family visiting Europe, especially Italy. Alice's father was a friend of Dickens and her mother was admired by Dickens. Alice and her sister Elizabeth, later the famed artist Lady Butler, were educated privately and more so by their travels. This background gave Alice a great interest in art, music, poetry and literature. Her conversion to Catholicism in 1868 was the rock of her existence and coloured her entire life. Alice and her convert husband Wilfrid were very involved in the journalistic world as she was a contributor to the Scots / National Observer, Dublin Review, Tablet, Athenaeum, Speaker, Spectator, and the Magazine of Art. Alice was also an important unsigned contributor to the Pall Mall Gazette 'Wares of Autolycus' column for many years. Together Wilfrid and Alice edited and wrote for their own illustrated monthly Merry England from 1883-95. Contributors included Alice's close friend Katharine Tynan, Coventry Patmore, Andrew Lang, and Francis Thompson, whose "The Hound of Heaven" was first published by them. They also managed the Weekly Register from 1881-98. The two journals kept Alice very busy as did her large family. Alice's letters show her literary work, both poetry and essays, and her relationship with John Lane, who published many of her books, an arrangement not always easy. She discusses her work with poets such as John Freeman and John Drinkwater, and her admiration for Coventry Patmore with the writer Frederick Page. She was obviously considered important for aspiring and established poets who sought her approbation. She visited America in late 1901 for a short lecture tour which was fairly successful but also gave her some lifelong friends. She supported women's suffrage and marched, although she was against its militancy. Alice was ambivalent about the First World War and her final years were spent writing and editing anthologies.