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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 ...

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