Honor Arundel Critical Essays

Introduction

Honor Arundel 1919–1973

British novelist for children and young adults, critic, playwright, poet, editor, and journalist.

Arundel's novels for young people have earned her a reputation as an author sensitive to the conflict between responsibility to oneself and responsibility to others that many adolescent girls find difficult to resolve. She began writing novels for teenagers when her daughter complained about the lack of stories about "ordinary children … with real problems" with whom they could identify. Although some of the situations Arundel's heroines must cope with, such as the sudden death of both parents in The High House or the raising of a child outside of marriage in The Longest Weekend, may not be common to many readers, her skill in creating believable personalities and realistic settings gives her stories plausibility and helps them avoid the blandness typical of many books in the problem-story genre. Many critics and readers have appreciated Arundel's honesty in describing predicaments that have no easy resolution in life, but she has been criticized for portraying young women who are so closely tied to their families that they lack realistic aspirations outside of family life as well as the confidence necessary to achieve them.

The strong sense of place in Arundel's books, most of which are set in Edinburgh or in the south country of Scotland, testifies to her knowledge and love of the two places she called home.

Her last book, The Blanket Word, which tells of a teenaged daughter's response to her mother's fatal illness, was written while she herself was dying of cancer. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 21-22; obituary, Vols. 41-44, rev. ed.; Contemporary Authors Permanent Series, Vol. 2, and Something about the Author, Vol. 4.)