Magazine
Latest Issue

A grand attitude to life

Rebecca West had a savage pen and a stormy life. Frank Kermode, who judged the first Booker prize with her, finds her letters full of candour, sadness and snobbery

By Frank Kermode   May 2000

Cicily fairfield was born in 1892 and died in 1983. At 19 she began a successful career as a journalist and adopted the name Rebecca West, the heroine of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm. If ever a writer so young demonstrated what Shakespeare called “the flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,” it was she. Hardly anybody now writes such devastating reviews, and few later feminists have written about politics with such accurate fury.

In the course of a life spanning most of the century, she lost none of her force. As traveller, novelist and political essayist, West won fame on both sides…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect