Stephanie Plowman's name come up on another forum a while back, and I thought I'd give her work a try. I've just read To Spare the Conquered (review here) and have her best-known novel, The Road to Sardis in my TBR pile.
Plowman never was a best-selling author (I discuss some of the reasons why I feel that might have been the case in my review) and has now become positively obscure. Because I had so much trouble finding out anything much about her, I thought I'd add some of what I did discover here so it will be on record and make life easier for anyone else searching Clearly the novels about Troy and the Norman Conquest mentioned by Plowman in the Times Literary Supplement feature never did make publication.
British Writer ( 1922 - )
Source: Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003. From Literature Resource Center.
Table of Contents:
Personal Information, Career, Writings, Sidelights, Further Readings About the Author
Family: Born December 28, 1922; daughter of Franklyn James (a power station employee) and Violet (Grainger) Plowman; married Arthur Richard Hamilton-Dee (died, 1957). Education: University of London, B.A. (with honors), 1944, additional study, 1948-50, Ph.D. Religion: Russian Orthodox Church. Addresses: Home: 12 Lower Meddon St., Bideford, Devonshire, England.
Teacher and lecturer at various times in England, South Africa, and Ghana; Calouste Gulbenkian research fellow at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, 1969-72.
WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:
• Nelson, Methuen, 1955. A biography of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, written for young people.
• Sixteen Sail in Aboukir Bay, Methuen, 1956 (Napoleonic Wars era - a novel of Admiral Nelson's days, told from the perspective of a man who had served with Nelson as a young boy).
• To Spare the Conquered, Methuen, 1960 (The Claudian conquest of Britain in A.D. 51, and Boudicca's Rebellion against Roman occupation ten years later as seen through the eyes of a young Roman officer).
• The Road to Sardis, Bodley Head, 1965, Houghton, 1966 (The story of Athenian general Alcibiades, the disastrous Sicilan Expedition and the demise of Athenian democracy, told by Alcibiades' young cousin, Lycius).
• Three Lives for the Czar, Bodley Head, 1969, Houghton, 1970 (Set in Imperial Russia- Andrei Hamilton relates the history of his family's relationship with Russia's imperial family and his own years growing up in St. Petersburg during the period preceding World War I)
• My Kingdom for a Grave, Bodley Head, 1970, Houghton, 1971, sequel to Three Lives for the Czar (Once close to the Imperial family, twenty-year-old Andrei Hamilton follows them to their Siberian imprisonment hoping to rescue them).
• A Time to Be Born and a Time to Die, Bodley Head, 1974 (A collection of seven stories).
• The Leaping Song, Bodley Head, 1975 (The Battle of Salamis - the heroic defence of Greece against Persia around 490BC.)
A Times Literary Supplement reviewer observes of Stephanie Plowman's My Kingdom for a Grave: "What is clear beyond question is that this is a book for old adults too. Like Three Lives for the Czar, to which it is the most satisfying of sequels, My Kingdom for a Grave is for all readers, or at least for all those who can rise to its technical and emotional demands."
Plowman writes: "All [of my books] are `children's books'--the publishers' classification, not mine. I never consciously wrote them as children's books. In fact, it appears to me that a great deal of children's literature appearing now would have been classified as adult stuff if produced before, say, 1939. However, having a naive reverence for publishers' judgments, I did not think of breaking outside the ring fence.
"Stephanie Plowman, `children's author,' died the death in 1976. I had started a novel on the French Revolution as seen through the eyes of Marie Antoinette's daughter. Publishers said it couldn't be more than 65,000 words, because of costs. My Kingdom for a Grave, dealing with the Russian Revolution, was 110,000 words. I couldn't write accurately on the French Revolution in 65,000 words, so I decided this was the end of Stephanie Plowman, writer.
"However, one scribbles away even if one never intends to submit one's brain child to a publisher for evisceration, so I wrote a woman's eye view of the Trojan War and kept it in an old suitcase for some continual time. When I looked at it again and thought that even if Homer would have been furious, he would have had to admit I knew the Iliad pretty well, and so, taking a deep breath, I have decided to submit it to a publisher as an adult novel. I still await the result of my presumption, but still don't know whether Stephanie Plowman, ex-children's author, will at some time in the future appear as a writer for adults.
"I hope eventually to settle in Yorkshire. Now that the bit is between my teeth again, I've started another novel (adult--will I never learn?) on the Norman Conquest, which was a brutal, bloody affair and I hate the Conqueror's guts. Not for nothing was I born into a family with the ultra-Saxon name of Plowman. One couldn't be more of an oppressed peasant. The Conqueror--previously designated more accurately `The Bastard'--committed genocide in the north of England. It will be an agonising book to write, but I have to write it."
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
• Times Literary Supplement, December, 4, 1969, October 30, 1970, July 16, 1976;
• Growing Point, November, 1975.
"Stephanie Plowman." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 May 2012.
Last edited by annis; 11-24-2012 at 12:32 AM.