Victoria Glendinning
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Lecture SeriesPortrayals (V)Portrayal of Rebecca West

  • Date: 22/02/2010
  • Presenter:
    • Lucía Franco

The biography that Victoria Glendinning devoted to the also writer Rebecca West has special characteristics. They met in person and saw each other along the last then years of West's long life, and it was Rebecca herself who invited Victoria to write her biography. Victoria Glendinning focused particularly in the youth and first steps of maturity of Cecilia Fairfield, the real name of Rebecca West, who, when beginning in the world of creation decided to use this literary pseudonym obtained from the a character in the works of Ibsen to calm her mother who was scandalized by her daughter's radical ideas.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) joined the first suffragettes while being a teenager. At a very young age she started a sentimental relationship with one of the most know writers of the time: H.G. Wells, who was around twenty years older than her and married. They had a son together, and thus Rebecca became a single mother. She was a radical socialist in her youth and a passionate opponent to Communism in her maturity. She cultivated several genres and earned fame as a novelist, critic, and writer, although she was also very interested in art, journalism, history, and policy. Her private life was complicated, specially in everything that had to do with her only son. Victoria Glendinning wrote about her: "if she had been a rich medieval woman, she could have been a great abbess, if she had been born along the 17th century and poor, she would have been burnt for witchcraft. There is a lot to learn from her life because Rebecca West is more than the emblem of the modern woman". When Wells got to meet her, he said about her: "I have never met anybody like her and I doubt there has never been anyone like her". There was a lot of mutual intellectual respect between Rebecca West  and Wyndham Lewis. Wyndham Lewis did not agree with many of her literary works published in the BLAST magazine, although he favored from the beginning her story "Indissoluble Matrimony" that appeared in the first number. Rebecca West also appreciated Wyndham Lewis' literary and artistic work. She valued very much that he was the first publisher of one of her fiction works. Wyndham Lewis also dedicated her a portrait, which was kept by Rebecca West her entire life. Upon her death it was sent to the National Portrait Gallery of London.

In the conference that Victoria Glendinning will dedicate to Rebecca West, she will address the period of time in which she lived, her relationship with Wyndham Lewis and other contemporaries, and will analyze some of the lesser known aspects of her appearance and the perception others had from her.

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