Charlotte Mew Analysis

Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Though primarily known for her poetry, Charlotte Mew (myew) also wrote short stories and essays. Her first story to appear in print was “Passed” (1894), published in John Lane and Elkin Mathews’s The Yellow Book, which also published works by Henry James and Max Beerbohm and the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley. From 1899 to 1905, Mew was a regular contributor to Temple Bar, a magazine for middle-class Victorians, which published the stories “The China Bowl” (1899), “An Open Door” (1903), “A White Night” (1903), and “Mark Stafford’s Wife” (1905), as well as the essays “Notes in a Brittany Convent” (1901) and “The Poems of Emily Brontë” (1904). “An Old Servant” (1913), Mew’s tribute to her childhood nurse, Elizabeth Goodman, appeared in The New Statesmen. Mew rewrote “The China Bowl” as a one-act play, which was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation posthumously in 1953. That same year, Cornhill Magazine published her story “A Fatal Fidelity.”


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Although Charlotte Mew’s work never won any awards, her poetry did win accolades from major literary figures, including Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy, Siegfried Sassoon, Rebecca West, H. D., and novelist May Sinclair. In 1923, Hardy, John Masefield, and Walter de la Mare secured for her a Civil List pension of seventy-five pounds per year.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Dowson, Jane, and Alice Entwistle. “’I Will Put Myself, and Everything I See, upon the Page’: Charlotte Mew, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Anna Wickham and the Dramatic Monologue.” In A History of Twentieth-Century British Women’s Poetry. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Contains considerable analysis of Mew’s poetry, finding the poet’s hallmark to be an ability to summon “felt absence.”

Fitzgerald, Penelope. Charlotte Mew and Her Friends. 1992. Reprint. London: Flamingo, 2002. In this book-length biography, Fitzgerald examines Mew’s life in the context of her friendships with EllaD’Arcy, Mrs. Dawson Scott, and May Sinclair. Contains selected poems and bibliography.

Goss, Theodora, ed. Voices from Fairyland: The Fantastical Poems of Mary Coleridge, Charlotte Mew, and Sylvia Townsend Warner. Seattle: Aqueduct Press, 2008. Presents the poetry of Mew, Coleridge, and Warner, with some critical analysis.

Hamilton, Ian. Against Oblivion: Some Lives of the Twentieth-Century Poets. New York: Viking, 2002. Contains a biography essay on Mew that looks at her poetry. Hamilton edited a selection of Mew’s poetry.

Katz, Jon, and Kevin Prufer, eds. Dark Horses: Poets on Overlooked Poems—An Anthology. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007. Contains Mew’s poem “The Trees Are Down,” with a commentary by Molly Peacock.

Kendall, Tim. Modern English War Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. The chapter on Mew compares her war poetry to that of Edward Thomas, analyzing the trope of spring in each.

Leighton, Angela. Victorian Women Poets: Writing Against the Heart. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992. The chapter on Mew in this introduction to eight nineteenth century women poets provides a biography and analysis of her work, identifying her as a Victorian and drawing comparisons to writer and artist Christina Rossetti.

Rice, Nelljean McConeghey. A New Matrix for Modernism: A Study of the Lives and Poetry of Charlotte Mew and Anna Wickham. New York: Routledge, 2003. Rice views both Mew and Wickham, who both published through the Poetry Bookshop, to be modern poets.