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TWENTY-THREE TALES

ELIZABETH MYERS

With an Introduction by Anthony Head







Elizabeth Myers, author of A Well Full of Leaves, The Basilisk of St James, and Mrs Christopher also published two volumes of short stories. This new selection gathers together the best of these as well as several previously uncollected stories.



elizabeth myers, littleton powys, sherborne, the sundial pressBy the time of her early death in 1947 at the age of 34, Elizabeth Myers had already made her mark on the literary scene with three published novels. The first of these, A Well Full of Leaves, appeared in 1943 and made an instantaneous impact. With its somewhat rhapsodic blend of nature mysticism and individualistic Catholicism, this story of four young siblings from a harsh domestic background polarized critical opinion but also won popular acclaim, proving an inspiration for many ordinary readers as war still raged around them. Later that same year, Myers met and married Littleton Powys, the retired headmaster of Sherborne Prep who was 40 years her senior, having had an introduction from his old friend Arthur Waugh. Despite her fragile health – at 25 she had lost her hearing in one ear and had been diagnosed with tuberculosis – the few years she spent with Littleton were happy and productive. Her second book, The Basilisk of St. James, a novel about Jonathan Swift set in the London of Queen Anne, was published in 1945 and though less commercially successful gained its share of critical attention. It was quickly followed in 1946 by Mrs. Christopher, an original murder story that plays on the psychological aspects of the nature of good and evil, and that was made into film five years later, starring Dirk Bogarde, Fay Compton and Michael Gough.




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TWENTY-THREE TALES
by ELIZABETH MYERS


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I believe that a story should strike a reader on the heart, like a blow from a stick.’  - Elizabeth Myers



TWENTY-THREE TALES by Elizabeth Myers
An excerpt from the Introduction by Anthony Head:

elizabeth myers, twenty-three tales, littleton powys This new selection of her work brings together 23 of the most diverse and incisive of her stories – a mixture of the comic, the sentimental, the pathetic and the tragic. It includes her only American story, ‘The Plea’; one of her few non-contemporary tales, ‘Dawn’, set in the wake of the French Revolution; and three that were not included in either of her main collections – ‘The Money Changeling’, an absurd kind of ‘revenger’s comedy’, the slapstick ‘Lost in London’, and ‘One Night “Up West”’, which like many of her tales packs a punch to startling effect. Most have a London or Irish setting (despite her never having visited Ireland, she was told many a tale by her Irish great-aunt), and the slang she employs in them is that of the contemporary East End or the Irish lower classes – dated somewhat in places but not difficult to understand.

    Underlying her narratives, and underlining her purpose in them, is the redemptive power of forgiveness, of mercy as twice blessed. Myers deserves to be remembered not specifically as a Christian writer, but first and foremost as a humanist, an author who could dispense with the dogmatic baggage of her religion whilst proclaiming its life-affirming message of compassion. As the narrator of ‘Nuts’ puts it: ‘Hatred and crime are, after all, only the result of not enough love.’ Elizabeth Myers had a capacious understanding of human nature and a broad tolerance of human foibles. Her unique stories are indeed, as her earlier publisher noted, ‘products of a perspicacious mind and a generous heart.’ However they may strike the reader’s emotions, they will not be easily dislodged from the mind.






Price: 9.99 | Paperback | ISBN-13: 978-1-908274-41-1 | Book Dimensions: 198129mm | Publication: 2016

  Price: 4.99 | eBook| ISBNs: 978-1-908274-17-5 (Kindle edition) & 978-1-908274-16-8 (ePub edition) | Publication: September 2016

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Contemporary reviews:

“Elizabeth Myers’s stories are surely the fine flower of her genius. They possess all the qualifications necessary to good story-writing: humour, tenderness, pathos, a deep understanding of all living creatures, and above all, poetry.’— Gloucestershire Echo. 

 

“Invaluable in adding to our knowledge of this gifted writer. Her fantasy is always sensibly well-earthed, her realism that of the visionary, and her spry cockney children are creations of the first order.”— (John O’London’s Weekly).

 

“From this remarkable collection of stories. the reader will gain not only satisfaction and pleasure but a high regard for a woman with a heart and a brain.”— The Countryman.

 

“They’re as alive as a basket of eels.”— Charles Causley (BBC)


twenty-three tales, littleton powys, sundial press, sherborne













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