Mary Webb

Gladys Mary Coles
Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 1, 1990
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Novelist, poet and mystic, Mary Webb (1881-1927) is an author undergoing revival and revaluation. Her most famous novel, Precious Bane, won the Prix Femina of 1924 and was recently televised. While her work was admired by Rebecca West, John Buchan, de la Mare and others during her lifetime, popular success came only after her death. She was on the verge of this wider recognition when her marriage and health collapsed.

Mary Webb grew up in Shropshire, the setting and inspiration of her work. Classics of the rural and regional genre, her novels are firmly rooted in the countryside of the Welsh border. She was steeped in its history and folk-lore and in a pantheism which she expressed through her writing. Her clear-sighted vision of the significance of the natural world and her own intimate bond with it have a new relevance for the readers of today.

In this biography and critical study, Gladys Mary Coles traces the course of Mary Webb’s tragic life, and the effects of her long-term suffering from Graves’ Disease, and discusses her creative achievement. Drawing on recently discovered material, she provides fresh illumination of Mary Webb’s character and new appraisals of her six novels and her nature essays. There are many quotations from her poems, and the book includes photographs of Mary Webb and her husband not previously published.

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