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This article is taken from PN Review 231, Volume 43 Number 1, September - October 2016.

On Rapture’s Roadway Virginia Jealous
Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar,
             Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell!
Whom do you lead on Rapture’s roadway, far,
             Before you agonise them in farewell?


IN THE EARLY decades of the twentieth century, Laurence Hope was as famous – and infamous – as a writer could wish to be. Today, the poet’s three small volumes of verse are most likely to be found packed away in the attic or on the back shelves of secondhand booksellers.

My father, in his retirement, was one such bookseller, running ‘Books About India’ from his study in Yorkshire. I’m not sure if the bookshop was the cause or the result of his late-blooming obsession with Laurence Hope, but for the last twenty years of his life Hope’s presence was palpable in the house. He collected many and varied editions of the poems and related paintings, made regular trips to India tracing the poet’s life there, entered into a voluminous correspondence with booksellers, readers and historians and edited an idiosyncratic biannual newsletter for a small but stalwart group of fans worldwide. He also tended towards regular outbursts of her poetry aloud.

Yes, her poetry.

Laurence Hope was born Adela Florence Cory in 1865. She spent her childhood in England and in her teens moved to India, where her father was editor of the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore. Her friends and family knew her as Violet, for the colour of her eyes; after ...


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