Friday, 2 January 2015

Elizabeth Jane Howard

The BBC is broadcasting the short stories of Elizabeth Jane Howard over the next few weeks from her collection entitled Mr Wrong.

Recently I posted a photograph of a street in Te Anau, New Zealand called Wong Way.

These two items were rattling around in my head before they finally coalesced when I recalled that the author died one year ago today at the age of 90.

Elizabeth was married three times. Her first marriage to Peter Scott, the naturalist, lasted three years and produced a daughter whom she abandoned when she walked out in 1946. Her second marriage was also brief, lasting five years ended by her walking out once more.

Her last marriage, to Kingsley Amis, lasted 18 years. Although she again walked out of the marriage Amis had made it clear he no longer liked her.  During her marriage Amis had dominated the literary output of the couple but with the break-up came liberation.
Jane, as she was commonly known, became a prolific writer - of novels, short stories, screenplays and magazine articles. The first two volumes of her tetrology of the Cazelet family were serialised by the BBC last year.I am not a great fan of her novels but she holds another interest.
EJH with RA
In the 1940s she became involved with Robert Aickman, the co-founder of the Inland Waterways Association In the early days the IWA office was in Aickman's house and Jane became a permanent fixture. Aickman's wife, Ray, seems to have accepted the liaison but was quoted as saying that she drew the line at taking them tea in bed.
The early IWA bulletins were a joint effort by Jane and Robert and she accompanied him on a six-week tour of the northern waterways in Ailsa May. Along the way various IWA  activists joined them for parts of the journey. Their passage of Standedge Tunnel has become legendary. She was also heavily involved in the 1950 Market Harborough rally which really kick-started the waterways recovery movement.After her break up with Robert she left the waterways scene but went on to have affairs with Cecil Day Lewis and Laurie Lee.

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