Meeting Dora Russell and Margaret Oliphant

Reading Rosemary Dinnage’s Alone! Alone! Lives of Some Outsider Women, I was pleased to meet Dora Russell, one of the exes of Bertrand.

On English public schools she said: “I don’t see that you can get anywhere in creating a new society without getting rid of them. I’m not hostile to them; they do magnificent work in their field. But the you have it, in the heart of our society, a masculine hereditary tradition for generation aft generation; out of those schools come me , men who expect to take the highest posts in our society; and against that I don’t see how democracy, or women, are going to have any influence whatsoever.” (P86)

And on conservation and the natural world, for which she was a campaigner….” I wrote a review of a book recently on man’s responsibility for nature,and I said now that we’ve had a look at the cold moon, and our own earth in contrast, we realise what a precious thing we have here. We should be taking care of it, and enjoying it loving it; and to me this is worth everything else in the world that anybody could invent.” (P 283)

Also found interesting the life of Margaret Oliphant, forced by circumstance to be a journey woman writer when she might have been much more. Her second novel Margaret Maitland, “was unconventionally the story of a sturdy Scottish spinster – “we are not aware that the Maiden Aunt has ever before found so favourable representation in print” said the Athanaeum.” (P 245)

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