[ Margaret Forster responds to 'The New Historical Fiction'. ] Autograph Draft of Forster's New York Times review of Frances Sherwood's 'Vindication', with photocopy of the fair copy, page of autograph notes, uncorrected proof, press release, slip.

Margaret Forster (1938-2016), English novelist and biographer [ Frances Sherwood (b.1940), American author, Professor of English at Indiana University; 'The New Historical Fiction'; New York Times ]
Publication details: 
[ London and New York. ] 1993.
SKU: 20605

The present collection provides an interesting view of the response of a traditional novelist and biographer to the work of a proponent of 'The New Historical Fiction'. Margaret Forster was a noted British author, in addition to her many novels she published a number of biographies, including ones of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1988) and Daphne du Maurier (1993). On its publication in 1993 Sherwood's first novel 'Vindication' was both successful and controversial. While it was translated into twelve languages, several reviewers, and most notably Forster, expressed 'distinct queasiness' (Forster's phrase) at the blurring of fact and fiction in the style that would come to be known as 'The New Historical Fiction'. A discussion of the response to Sherwood's book, with reference to Forster, is to be found in M. T. Rozett, 'Constructing a World: Shakespeare's England and the New Historical Fiction' (SUNY, 2012). The present collection, consisting of six items, is – with the exception of the uncorrected proof (see Item Four below) – in good condition, with light signs of age and wear. ONE: Autograph early draft of Forster's review, simply headed 'Vindication'. 4pp., foolscap 8vo. In Forster's neat hand. With deletions and emendations. Forster is more forthright in her criticism here than in the published version, as for example: 'to invent a breakdown & her incarceration in Bedlam – described in harrowing terms – is surely to go against the whole spirit of M. W. Even more curious & disloyal to M. W. are two other “deviations” which are absolute distortions. […]' She also asserts here that 'The function of a novel about MW is surely to illuminate corners of M's life known to have existed but still dark, in doing so to give us the essence of the woman.' TWO: Autograph list of fifteen features in the novel which Forster clearly finds troubling, with page references. 1p., 4to. Begins with 'p10 – Annie & fellatio | 24 – flasher' and ends with '319 – throwing baby v. wall | 353 Blake lunch'. THREE: Photocopy of fair copy of the review, headed with the novel's title and publication details. 4pp., 8vo. Not entirely as published, a few changes having presumably been made in proof. FOUR: 'Uncorrected Proof / not for sale' of the American first edition of 'Vindication'. Unpagination, and with pagination supplied in autograph by Forster. Perfect-bound, in laminated pictorial covers. Slight damp staining to early leaves, and with the book separated from the covers, and split into a number of sections. FIVE: Duplicated press release from the publishers Farrar Straus Giroux, giving biographical information regarding Sherwood. SIX: Printed 'New York Times Book Review' slip, filled in with typed information that Forster is to write six to seven hundred words by 1 April 1993, and that the assigning editor is Patricia O'Conner, whose phone number is given. From the Forster papers.