Alas, poor lady – poor Rachel Ferguson. Few today, even among the well-read elderly, mention her eccentric and haunting novels, though from the 1930s to the mid-50s she was up there with Margaret Kennedy, Rosamond Lehmann and – almost – with Elizabeth Bowen. Born into comfortable circumstances in 1893 (a childhood in a Thames suburb which became for her, in later life, the archetypal lost idyll; rich relations in large Kensington houses) she emerged into the 1920s part spinster-daughter of a widow, part a Modern Young Woman. An early passion for the theatre led her to stage school and into touring music hall companies, experiences which were to provide her with a lifetime of rich material when she discovered that her true talents lay in journalism. She developed a line in parodies, became a regular contributor to Punch, then branched into fiction.