|01-07-2009, 06:00 PM||#1|
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Simpson, Helen de Guerry: Maid No More. V1. 7 Jan 2009
Helen was born in Sydney into a family that had been settled in New South Wales for over a 100 years. Her great-grandfather, Piers Simpson, R.N., was associated with Sir Thomas Mitchell and her maternal grandfather, the Marquis de Lauret, settled at Goulburn some 50 years before her birth. Her father, Edward Percy Simpson, was a well-known solicitor at Sydney who married Anne de Lauret. Helen Simpson was educated at the Rose Bay convent (now called Kincoppal-Rose Bay, School of the Sacred Heart) and at Abbotsleigh, Wahroonga and, in 1914, she went to France for further study. When war broke out she crossed to England and was employed by the admiralty in decoding messages in foreign languages. She then went to Oxford, studied music and, failing in her examination for the music bachelors degree, took up writing.
Her first appearance in print was a slight volume of verse, Philosophies in Little, published at Sydney in a limited edition in 1921. It attracted little notice but was included by Serle in his list of the more important volumes in his Bibliography of Australasian Poetry and Verse, published in 1925. Her play, A Man of His Time, based on the life of Benvenuto Cellini and written partly in blank verse, was a remarkable piece of work for a girl of less than 25. It was performed by McMahon's repertory company at Sydney and published there by Angus and Robertson in 1923. Her first novel, Acquittal, appeared in London in 1925 and was followed by The Baseless Fabric (short stories) in 1925 and Cups, Wands and Swords (1927). The Women's Comedy (a play) was privately printed in 1926.
DEE: Blessed be the God of Heaven and Earth, who regardeth the sincere intent of his silly ones. A True and Faithful Relation of what passed for many years between Dr. John Dee and some Spirits. The young gentlemen of Magdalen College, going about their lawful occasions, halted to observe a sensible-looking woman talking to herself below their outdoor pulpit. The academic life offered many opportunities for baiting, none of which they were apt to neglect; poor scholars, professors, and nonconformists of various kinds were mischief's daily bread. But women, apart from complaisant persons in taverns, did not often offer. The undergraduates therefore gave some attention to this creature's words, as they were wont to give attention to the mannerisms of those who instructed them, with a view to reproducing in caricature what was meant to edify. To their displeasure, the woman was sermonizing.
'Bene legere saecla vincere'.
'To read well is to master the ages' [Prof. Issac Flagg]
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