Who was Sophie? by Celia Robertson - review by Isabel Quigly

Isabel Quigly

The Edge of Reason

Who was Sophie?


Virago 310pp £15.99

Names are an important part of a writer’s personality and the lumpen-sounding ‘Joan’ is a misfortune to a poet, even if it was Virginia Woolf who discovered her. Who now remembers Joan Adeney Easdale? In middle age, Joan buried her original name and self, never mentioning her literary past, her Bloomsbury connections, or her brush with fame (or at least with acknowledged promise), and became instead Sophie. Who was Sophie?, her granddaughter’s disinterment of her, should put her on a corner of the literary map again, partly as a curiosity, partly as an example of the brevity of fame, and partly as an example of the Woolfs’ taste in poetry in the early days of the Hogarth Press.

For a few weeks, not much more, and despite an appallingly burr-like mother who never left her or stopped gushing over the Woolfs, Joan was a small literary lion. In part because of this embarrassing parent (whose other child, Brian Easdale, also achieved some fame as a composer – his

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