Published on 6 July 2021.
In 2003 the former Women’s Press editor and literary critic Sarah LeFanu published her acclaimed biography of Rose Macaulay with Virago Press.
‘A magnificent job … imaginative and thoughtful, dense with distilled information … LeFanu offers a skilled, visual, intellectual and emotional picture of a complex woman’ – The Independent
‘A fine biography … rich and perceptive … Sarah LeFanu [is] an able and astute judge of Macaulay’s writings’ – The Times Literary Supplement
As well as writing the biography, LeFanu was keeping a detailed journal of her research trips and her processes as a biographer, arguing with herself over what to include, what to pursue, and what to leave behind. In 2013 she self-published Dreaming of Rose, her memoir of juggling the demands of teaching and broadcasting while researching and writing Rose’s biography. It’s a feminist story, and a triumphant validation of the rewards of research.
This revised Handheld edition of Dreaming of Rose is an updated and revised edition of the original self-published edition of 2013.
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LeFanu’s immersion in her research led to Rose Macaulay intruding in her dreams, and fantastical imaginings of what Rose would say or do, at each fork in the road. Dreaming of Rose is a remarkable record of the art of biography, and the search for another woman’s life. Research trips to Varazze in Italy to look for Rose’s childhood, and to Trabzon in Turkey to find traces of The Towers of Trebizond, were remarkably intuitive ventures that found treasures in unexpected places.
LeFanu’s work on Rose was squeezed in between many other commitments and responsibilities: she wrote for the BBC and taught creative writing and English literature. Suffused with the tensions and dramas of everyday life, and the necessity for intellectual integrity, this is an important memoir of women and writing. Originally self-published in 2013, this revised and expanded edition is an inspiration for life-writers everywhere.
‘I recommend this unusual and fascinating book to you, fragmentary record of two writers’ lives, a biographer’s search for her ghostly subject’ – Shiny New Books
‘Dreaming of Rose : A Biographer ‘s Journal by Sarah LeFanu was an absolute gift. A gift of a chance to see into the lives and minds of not just one great writer but two! … This is a glimpse of one writer trying to pin another to the page. Through the pages of Sarah LeFanu’s journal we are able to both witness and share in the triumphs and despair born of hours of research. The frustrations of contacts who seem willing to talk but then mysteriously clam up and the difficulties of prizing fact from fiction, a little more each day.’ – Book Bound
‘A fascinating read from start to finish; as well as divulging so much about her process of researching and constructing her biography, LeFanu’s explorations of a woman’s writing life were extremely revealing’ – Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings
Other Rose Macaulay titles from Handheld Press
Personal Pleasures, a marvellous anthology of Macaulay’s essays on the enjoyment of life.
What Not is Macaulay’s forgotten 1918 novel of a speculative post-war present that was a direct influence on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Non-Combatants and Others. Writings Against War, 1916-1945 collects all Macaulay’s anti-war and anti-Fascist journalism and fiction.
Potterism (1920) is a novel satirising the post-First World War British newspaper industry, and the appalling power of the mass media.