Rebecca West (Cicely Isabel Fairfield), 1892 - 1983

portrait of Rebecca West
Photo by Madame Yévonde, used under GFDL from photographer's estate

Born: 21 December 1892, London, England, UK
Died: 15 March 1983, London, England, UK

Born Cicely Isabel Fairfield, her father was a prominent journalist who provided an atmosphere of lively debate and intellectual stimulation but who had numerous affairs before abandoning the family in 1900 when "Cissy" was only eight (he died in 1906). When Charles left, the rest of the family moved to Edinburgh, Scotland where she attended George Watson's Ladies College but left in 1907 after a bout of tuberculosis and had no further education. She trained to be an actress, adopting the name Rebecca West based on an Ibsen play, but became involved in writing for the feminist press. She wrote a scathing review of H. G. Wells' novel Marriage. Wells was intrigued and invited her to lunch, they had a ten-year affair and remained friendly afterwards, but West was not able to maintain a relationship with their son who later attacked her for her absences from the home. She wrote essays, reviews, novels, and non-fiction books, Bernard Shaw said, "Rebecca can handle a pen as brilliantly as ever I could and much more savagely." She married Henry Maxwell Andrews in 1930, they were together until his death in 1968. West traveled widely, three trips to Yugoslavia resulted in the highly regarded Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. She covered the Nuremberg Trials for The New Yorker, later the basis for A Train of Powder. After Andrews' death she closed her house and bought an apartment facing London's Hyde Park, maintaining an active social calendar despite failing eyesight and hypertension, spending most of her last months in bed, slipping in and out of delirium.

Biography from Wikipedia and the Modernism Lab, Yale University

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