Fickle Fiction

Cover: The sea the seaHappy Birthday, Iris Murdoch! She was pretty much up there with Doris Lessing for a while and was worthy of being played by Dame Judi Dench in the biopic about her tragic battle with Alzheimer’s. But then Lessing won the Nobel Prize and it seems Murdoch has gone out of fashion and few people read her now.

Fashion is just as fickle in books, or rather in writers, as it is in clothes. A movie or television adaptation can send a writer who has been ignored for years into the best seller lists, and a new biography, preferably with a few salacious details, can do the same.

Dickens keeps on keeping on and probably didn’t need a push from The Invisible Woman, but Trollope seems to have lost the impetus Barchester Towers gave him a few years ago. Swings and roundabouts – Anthony’s time may come again if a director with an eye for a great story decides to film The Eustace Diamonds.

Cover: The Fairy DollChildren’s books seem to ride the winds of fashion better, perhaps because they get a new set of readers every generation and parents and present-buyers hark back to what they loved when choosing.

A nice new cover helps, like the lovely Jane Ray illustration gracing Rumer Godden‘s The Fairy Doll, first published in 1956. Virago should have taught that lesson years ago when they single-handedly brought some unfairly ignored women writers back to readers’ attention.

Do you have a favourite who has dropped out of fashion, one you dream of bringing back?

4 thoughts on “Fickle Fiction

  1. Vanessaccl 15 July 2014 / 3:28 pm

    I am very fond of Pearl Buck‘s work, especially the stories set in China. My mother was a fan of hers and I quickly became one too.

    On a completely different note, I’d love Astrid Lindgren’s Emil stories to come back in vogue – the odd one has been reprinted but most haven’t. I used to have a very large volume of all the stories (sadly lost in transit from overseas) which could reduce me to copious tears of laughter even in my teens.

  2. missbeecrafty 15 July 2014 / 3:51 pm

    I can still remember very clearly how upset I was as a little girl when I went to get Maggie Gumption out of the library again and it wasn’t available any more! I was gobsmacked! I’d love to read it again, I wonder if it would still be as exciting now as it was back then? I also wonder if anyone else remembers the story

    • Vanessaccl 17 July 2014 / 9:00 am

      Good to know, thanks 🙂

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