Anna Wickham: A Poet's Daring Life by Jennifer Vaughan Jones - review by Carole Angier

Carole Angier

A Committed Poet

Anna Wickham: A Poet's Daring Life


Madison Books 373pp $26.95 order from our bookshop

ON A  Spring day in 1913 Annn Wickham stood in her Hampstead garden and yelled her poem 'Nervous Prostration' at her husband, Patrick Hepburn:

I married a man of the Croydon class

When I was twenty-two.

And I vex him, and he bores me

Till we don't know what to do!

And as I sit in his ordered house,

I feel I nlust sob or shriek,

To force a man of the Croydon class

To live, or to love, or to speak!

Soon after he had her committed to a private asylum, citing her belief in herself as a poet and her idea that he didn't understand her as evidence of madness. 117 the asylum a doctor asked her to repeat 'Nervous Prostration' to him, and was so impressed he brought her pen and paper and told her to go on writing. After four months she left with eighty new poems, Illany of which she published in her second collection, Tlzc Mail Witli n Harrlrric~r, in l9 l h. Tllc, Mnrr With o Hnrrrrric,r included the title poem ('My Dear was a mason/ And I was his stone') and, buried on page 30 of 96 (still 'perhaps not deep enough for Patrick's tastes', as Jemlifer ~aughaJno nes says), '~ervousP rostration'.


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