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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay, DBE (1 August 1881 in Rugby, Warwickshire, England – 30 October 1958), affectionately known as Emilie, was a writer. She published thirty-five books, mostly novels but also biographies and travel writing.

Macaulay was educated at Oxford High School for Girls and read Modern History at Somerville College at Oxford University.

She began writing her first novel, Abbots Verney (published 1906), after leaving Somerville and while living with her parents at Ty Isaf, near Aberystwyth, in Wales. Later novels include The Lee Shore (1912), Potterism (1920), Dangerous Ages (1921), Told by an Idiot (1923), And No Man's Wit (1940), The World My Wilderness (1950), and The Towers of Trebizond (1956). Her non-fiction work includes They Went to Portugal, Catchwords and Claptrap, a biography of Milton, and Pleasure of Ruins.

During World War I Macaulay worked in the British Propaganda Department, after some time as a nurse and later as a civil servant in the War Office. She pursued a romantic affair with Gerald O'Donovan, a writer and former Jesuit priest, from 1918 until his death in 1942. During the interwar period she was a sponsor of the Peace Pledge Union. Her London flat was utterly destroyed in the Blitz, and she had to rebuild her life and library from scratch, as documented in the semi-autobiographical short story "Miss Anstruther's Letters", published in 1942.

The Towers of Trebizond, Macaulay's final novel, is generally regarded as her masterpiece. Strongly autobiographical, it treats with wistful humour and deep sadness the attractions of mystical Christianity, and the irremediable conflict between adulterous love and the demands of the Christian faith. For this work, she received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1956.

Reviewers have described Macaulay as "one of the few significant English novelists of the twentieth century to identify herself as a Christian and to use Christian themes in her writing." Rose Macaulay was never a simple believer in "mere Christianity," however, and her writings reveal a more complex, mystical sense of the divine. That said, she did not return to the Anglican church until 1953; she had been an ardent secularist before and, while religious themes pervade her novels, previous to her conversion she often treats Christianity satirically, for instance in Going Abroad and The World My Wilderness.

Rose Macaulay was created a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in 1958, shortly before her death at the age of 77.

Memorable quotes

"Adultery is a meanness and a stealing, a taking away from someone what should be theirs, a great selfishness, and surrounded and guarded by lies lest it should be found out. And out of meanness and selfishness and lying flow love and joy and peace beyond anything that can be imagined."

  • First line of The Towers of Trebizond, cited by librarian Nancy Pearl in "Famous First Words: A Librarian Shares Favorite Literary Opening Lines," [1] hosted by Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition, September 8, 2004, as an example among "some notable opening lines that have made Pearl's heart pound".

"Take my camel, dear," said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

  • From Staying with Relations. Discussing the coat worn by a visitor, a character remarks, "Is rabbit fur disgusting because it's cheap, or is it cheap because it's disgusting?"



  • Abbots Verney (1906)
  • The Furnace (1907)
  • The Secret River (1909)
  • The Valley Captives (1911)
  • Views and Vagabonds (1912) John Murray
  • The Lee Shore (1913) Hodder & Stoughton
  • The Two Blind Countries (1914) Sidgwick & Jackson
  • Non-Combatants and Others (1916) Hodder & Stoughton
  • What Not: A Prophetic Comedy (1918)
  • Three Days (1919) Constable
  • Potterism (1920) US Edition Boni and Liveright
  • Dangerous Ages (1921) US Edition Boni and Liveright
  • Mystery At Geneva: An Improbable Tale of Singular Happenings (1922) William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd; US Edition Boni and Liveright
  • Told by an Idiot (1923)
  • Orphan Island (1924) William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd; US Edition Boni and Liveright
  • Crewe Train (1926)
  • Keeping Up Appearances (1928) William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd
  • Staying with Relations (1930)
  • They Were Defeated (1932)
  • Going Abroad (1934)
  • I Would Be Private (1937)
  • And No Man's Wit (1940)
  • The World My Wilderness (1950) William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd
  • The Towers of Trebizond (1956) William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd


  • A Casual Commentary (1925)
  • Some Religious Elements in English Literature (1931)
  • Milton (1934)
  • Personal Pleasures (1935)
  • The Minor Pleasures of Life (1936)
  • An Open Letter (1937)
  • The Writings of E.M. Forster (1938)
  • Life Among the English (1942)
  • Southey in Portugal (1945)
  • They Went to Portugal (1946)
  • Evelyn Waugh (1946)
  • Fabled Shore: From the Pyrenees to Portugal By Road (1949)
  • Pleasure of Ruins (1953)
  • Coming to London (1957)
  • Letters to a Friend 1950-52 (1961)
  • Last letters to a friend 1952-1958 (1962)
  • Letters to a Sister (1964)
  • They Went to Portugal Too (1990) (The second part of They Went to Portugal, not published with the 1946 edition because of paper restrictions.)

Secondary Literature

  • Hein, David (Winter 2006). "Faith and Doubt in Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond". Anglican Theological Review 88 (1): 47–68. ISSN 0003-3286.  
  • Crawford, Alice (1995). Paradise Pursued: The Novels of Rose Macaulay. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 0-8386-3573-3.  
  • Emery, Jane (1991). Rose Macaulay: A Writer's Life. London: J. Murray. ISBN 0-7195-4768-7.  
  • Passty, Jeanette N. (1988). Eros and Androgyny: The Legacy of Rose Macaulay. London and Toronto: Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-8386-3284-X.  
  • Fromm, Gloria G. (October 1986). "The Worldly and Unwordly Fortunes of Rose Macaulay". The New Criterion 5 (2): 38–44. ISSN 0734-0222.  
  • Moore, Judith (November 15, 1978). "Rose Macaulay: A Model for Christian Feminists". Christian Century 95 (37): 1098–1101. ISSN 0009-5281.  
  • Babington Smith, Constance (1972). Rose Macaulay. London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-211720-7.  
  • Bensen, Alice R. (1969). Rose Macaulay. New York: Twayne Publishers.  
  • LeFanu, Sarah (2003). Rose Macaulay. London: Virago.  

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Emilie Rose Macaulay (1 August 188130 October 1958) was an English novelist.


  • "Take my camel, dear," said my aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.
    • The Towers of Trebizond (1956), opening words
  • Poem me no poems.
    • Quoted in Poetry Review, Autumn 1963

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