Hilary Mantel

In Her Black Books

A Bright Remembrance: The Diaries of Julia Cartwright

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 307pp £16.95 order from our bookshop

Imagine a philistine England; imagine a country estate in Northamptonshire, an Eden encumbered by debt; imagine the conversation of women, dominated by ‘the three dreadful D’s of dress, domestics and disease.’ Then imagine a little girl of sixteen or eighteen who desperately wants to be good, and has the duties of her time and class: ‘Visited all the cottages in Church Lane and scolded parents about not sending children to school regularly.’ She is enjoying a genteel education at home with her sisters. Over it, one feels, hovers the unborn soul of Miss Prism: ‘Mr Philips corrected our characters of Beckett and Wolsey … both more remarkable than great.’

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