PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review Blog
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Vahni Capildeo The Boisterous Weeping of Margery Kempe Paul Muldoon The Fly Sinead Morrissey Put Off That Mask Jane Yeh Three Poems Sarah Rothenberg Poetry and Music: Exile and Return

This article is taken from PN Review 38, Volume 10 Number 6, May - June 1984.

I'm Not Complaining: Q.D Leavis and Woman's Estate Nicolas Tredell

In her autobiography, Journey to the North, Storm Jameson praised Q. D. Leavis's devotion to F R. Leavis and his career, 'to which she subordinated her own without, so far as I ever heard, a sigh' (Collins & Harvill Press, 1970, p. 234). Since Q. D. Leavis's death in 1981, we have heard of at least one sigh: as reported in PNR 21, Boris Ford, in a supplement to her Times obituary, quoted from a letter in which she expressed resentment at not being credited as co-author of Culture and Environment and The Great Tradition, and claimed to have written much of the latter, including its first chapter and all the footnotes - arguably its most impressive parts (26 March 1981, p. 16). This prompts the curious reflection that what we now think of as traditional English studies, which is currently under feminist attack as male-dominated, was shaped, to a significant extent, by a lady in men's disguise. A picture of the oppressed woman concurring in her own oppression starts to emerge. The picture is complicated, however: M. C. Bradbrook's memoir of Q. D. Leavis in The Cambridge Review (20 November 1981, pp. 56-9) presents a formidably dominating figure, while John Carey's account of the Leavis's collaboration in The Listener (7 October 1982, pp. 15-17) comes close to the stereotype of the mild-mannered husband forced into aggression by an overpowering wife. The matter remains sketchy and anecdotal: an adequate assessment of Q. D. Leavis, as of her husband, clearly ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image