|Cicily Isabel Fairfield Andrews (1892-1983)
With the adopted name of Rebecca West she was a novelist, critic, and journalist; she was born in county Kerry, Ireland, and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland.
At 19 she began calling herself Rebecca West after the feminist heroine of Henrik Ibsen's play Rosmersholm. An ardent feminist and a Fabian socialist, she turned to writing and while in her 20s won recognition as a novelist, literary critic, and political analyst. West's first novel was Return of the Soldier (1918), which described the homecoming of a shell-shocked soldier but also expressed West's opinions concerning marriage. The Judge (1922) also expressed West's feminist concerns, including her views on the issues of unwed motherhood, stigma, and rape.
Contrary to the conventions of her time, West maintained a 10-year relationship with English author H.G. Wells and had a son, Anthony West, with him in 1914. Her major nonfiction work, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), is a perceptive study of Yugoslavia and an indictment of Nazism.
West has been praised as a journalist because of her psychological understanding and analytical skills. Her reports on the treason trials of Britons after World War II (1939-1945) for The New Yorker magazine were republished in The Meaning of Treason (1947). Collections of her nonfiction writings include A Train of Powder (1955) and The New Meaning of Treason (1964).
Intelligence, wit, and beautifully detailed settings and characterizations mark her novels, including The Strange Necessity (1928), Harriet Hume (1929), The Thinking Reed (1936), The Fountain Overflows (1956), and The Birds Fall Down (1966). She was created Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1959.
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