Born to blush unseen: Betty Trask in Frome

Merchant, P. (2018) Born to blush unseen: Betty Trask in Frome. In: English Literature and Creative & Professional Writing Research Forum, 24 January 2018, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Betty Trask (1893?–1983) is the very definition of a forgotten author. When her will left a king’s ransom to create a prize fund for first-time novelists, nobody knew that she had any connection with novel-writing whatever. Since then, over a hundred living novelists have drawn four-figure sums from the fund; but still not a single one of Trask’s own novels has been reissued. Mario Vargas Llosa, writing on Betty Trask four months after her death, was fascinated by a life so enveloped in obscurity as that of this “misteriosa filántropo de las letras inglesas” had been: a life “austera, discreta, poco menos que invisible.”
The basis of his fascination is also one of the most compelling justifications we have for recovering neglected writers’ lives. Trask, for Vargas Llosa, perfectly encapsulates what Don Quijote puts forward as the peculiar property of fiction: its ability to pierce the clouds of nonentity (or, in Virginia Woolf’s terms, the cotton wool of non-being) with rich imaginative life. Whether they are men of La Mancha or women of the Mendips, “a través de la ficción los seres humanos logran romper los límites en que viven encarcelados.”

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English Literature > PR0111 Women authors
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Dr Peter Merchant
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2018 09:45
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2018 09:45

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00