On this page, I’ll be collecting every useful Mirrlees resource I can find.
Mirrlees and Her Career
Biographical information on Mirrlees has long been very difficult to find. Only two years ago, readers of Mirrlees would have found themselves stuck with a few mentions—mostly hostile—in biographies of other people, and (if they were inclined to dig deeper), an online Dictionary of National Biography entry locked behind a very high paywall, and a winsome but somewhat breathless essay written in 1974.
Happily, things seem to be changing.
The New Entries: Two Very Different Perspectives
Julia Briggs’ “Hope Mirrlees and Continental Modernism,” a chapter in Bonnie Kime Scott’s Gender in Modernism anthology, situates Mirrlees in relation to the artistic movements of her time, while also providing the clearest and most detailed look at Paris to date, including a full reprint of the poem with extensive annotations. (University of Illinois Press, 2007.)
Michael Swanwick’s Hope-in-the-Mist, published by Temporary Culture in July of 2009, is a carefully researched 60-page essay on Mirrlees’ life and work, supplemented by extensive notes and an expanded version of Swanwick’s “Lexicon of Lud.” (Swanwick is, along with Neil Gaiman, a leading force in the Mirrlees revival within the fantasy lit community, and the original seed of Hope-in-the-Mist can be found in Swanwick’s introductory essay on Mirrlees at infinity plus.) I’ll review this one properly on the blog soon.
Mirrlees in Biographies of Jane Ellen Harrison
Be warned: biographers of Jane Ellen Harrison have generally disapproved of Mirrlees, thanks to her involvement in the destruction (by Harrison) of most of Harrison’s correspondence and private papers.
- Beard, Mary. The Invention of Jane Harrison. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2000.
- Peacock, Sandra J. Jane Ellen Harrison: The Mask and the Self. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.
- Robinson, Annabel. The Life and Work of Jane Ellen Harrison. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Other Profiles of Mirrlees and Her Work
Briggs, Julia, “Mirrlees, (Helen) Hope (1887-1978)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. (Behind a pay-wall. Many large public and academic libraries have access.)
Henig, Suzanne. “Queen of Lud: Hope Mirrlees.” Virginia Woolf Quarterly i.1 (Fall 1972): 8-21.
Works by Hope Mirrlees
Paris: A Poem (1919)
- PDF facsimile available from this site
- It has also been reprinted (with fabulous annotations) by Julia Briggs in Bonnie Kine Scott’s Gender and Modernism anthology
- Here’s a scan of the cover of the first edition from Hogarth Press, and one of the title page
Madeleine: One of Love’s Jansenists (1919-1920)
- Out of print since its first edition from W. Collins Sons & Co.
- Full text now available from this site
The Counterplot (1924)
- Out of print and all but impossible to find
The life of the Archpriest Avvakum by Himself, a translation with Jane Harrison (1924)
- Out of print since its original publication by Hogarth Press
- You can read a few brief selections on this website
- In print in a lovely edition from Gollancz in the UK (get this one) and in a few terrible small-press and POD editions in the US (avoid these)
- Lud is not precisely in the public domain, though it was for awhile in the US—its copyright status is deeply complicated here—but I’ve posted the first chapter online as a sample for new readers
- I’ve posted scans of the title page and the last page of the UK first edition
The Book of the Bear: Being Twenty-one Tales newly Translated from the Russian with Jane Harrison, the pictures by Ray Garnett (1926)
- Out of print since its original publication by The Nonesuch Press
- I have a copy, and will upload scans of at least a few pages soon
A Fly in Amber: Being an Extravagant Biography of the Romantic Antiquary Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (1962)
- Out of print since its original publication by Faber and Faber
- Often available via interlibrary loan and the used-book circuit.
Poems (1963) and Moods and Tensions: Poems (1965)
- Out of print and all but impossible to find, though there are rumors of an upcoming complete edition of Mirrlees’ poetry. More on that as I learn it.
Two wonderful entry points, one online and one on paper
Michael Dirda has an excellent, thoughtful essay on Lud up at the Barnes and Noble Review, and I can’t think of a better starting point for reading about the book. Just don’t buy the awful edition BN is hawking next to the review. The typesetting will make you want to fling yourself out the window.
Farah Mendlesohn’s Rhetorics of Fantasy situates Lud as the defining text of what she refers to as the “liminal fantasy” tradition, and her brief but dense and insightful scholarly analysis of the book is unsurpassed. (Wesleyan University Press, 2008)
Reviews & longer blog posts
- Naomi Chana has posted some astute observations at Baraita.
- Henry Wessells has written a great short entry on Lud at The Endless Bookshelf.
- Phillip Rains has reviewed Lud for infinity plus, and Edward O’Connor has posted a response to some of Rains’ criticisms.
- Liz Milner at the The Green Man Review faults Lud for being insufficiently Tolkienian.
- Georges T. Dodds has reviewed Lud for The SF Site. (Readers who wish to follow up on the authors he mentions at the bottom should note that it’s actually “Joanna Russ,” not “Johanna.”)
- Emily Barton at Telecommuter Talk discusses Lud‘s languages and themes in a short blog post.
- Russ Allbery has posted a mixed but mostly positive review on Eyrie.org: Eagle.
Short reviews & blog posts (mostly plot summary + brief thoughts)
- Things Mean a Lot
- Geranium Cat’s Bookshelf
- Framed and Booked
- Jenny’s Books
- Framed 2008
- Crescent Moon Book Reviews
- The Nall of Wallidge
- New England Science Fiction Association
- BCF Book Review
Julia Briggs’ above-mentioned “Hope Mirrlees and Continental Modernism” (in Gender in Modernism: New Geographies, Complex Intersections. Bonnie Kime Scott, Ed. University of Illinois Press, 2007) is by far the most useful work on Paris that I’ve seen, though I’ve not yet tracked down a copy of Juliet O’Keefe’s conference paper on the poem.
- Bailey, Bruce. “A Note on The Waste Land and Hope Mirrlees’ Paris.” T.S. Eliot Newsletter (Fall 1974): 3-4.
- Briggs, Julia. Modernism’s Lost Hope: Virginia Woolf, Hope Mirrlees and the printing of Paris” in Reading Virginia Woolf. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006.