Rosamond Lehmann Analysis

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Although her preferred art form was the novel, Rosamond Lehmann (LEE-mahn) also published a volume of short stories, The Gipsy’s Baby, and Other Short Stories (1946), and a play, No More Music (pb. 1939). Her autobiography, The Swan in the Evening: Fragments of an Inner Life, appeared in 1967, and a memoir, Rosamond Lehmann’s Album, was published in 1985.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Rosamond Lehmann’s first novel, Dusty Answer, was published when the author was twenty-six years old. The novel struck a responsive chord with the post-World War I generation, and Lehmann soon found herself famous. Her subsequent novels and other works found a considerable audience, especially in England, where her writing was highly regarded by the reading public as well as critics. In 1982, Lehmann was honored as a recipient of the Order of the British Empire. Those of her novels that had been out of print were republished by Virago Press.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Hastings, Selina. Rosamond Lehmann: A Life. London: Chatto and Windus, 2002. A popular biography, emphasizing the events of Lehmann’s life and giving little on her literary output.

Lehmann, John. In My Own Time. Boston: Little, Brown, 1969. Probably the most important source of information on Rosamond Lehmann’s life, consisting of the three volumes of her brother’s memoirs published separately in earlier editions during the 1960’s. The description of Rosamond’s childhood is especially revealing. Lehmann includes accounts of his sister’s numerous friendships, ranging from Bernard Berenson to Guy Burgess.

Le Stourgeon, Diana E. Rosamond Lehmann. New York: Twayne, 1969. A standard brief survey of Lehmann’s work, handicapped because it appeared before her brother’s memoirs. Notes her concentration on female characters; males are relegated to minor positions. Conflicts among different generations of women often figure at the center of Lehmann’s novels, which are reviewed in detail. Includes a bibliography of criticism of Lehmann with skimpy annotations.

Siegel, Ruth. Rosamond Lehmann: A Thirties Writer. New York: Peter Lang, 1989. The first two chapters provide a grounding in Lehmann’s life and the sources of her fiction. Subsequent chapters deal with her major novels. Includes family tree, notes, and bibliography.

Simons, Judy. Rosamond Lehmann. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Chapters on Lehmann’s life and background, women and modernism, the early novels, and realism. Separate chapters on Invitation to the Waltz, The Weather in the Streets, and The Ballad and the Source. One chapter on later works. Includes notes and bibliography.

Tindall, Gillian. Rosamond Lehmann: An Appreciation. London: Chatto and Windus, 1985. The most comprehensive critical study. Behind the surface readability of her novels, Lehmann is a “deep writer” who writes frequently of death, trying to puzzle out its meaning. Abortion and the death of the very young, in particular, figure often in her novels, as does rivalry between children and parents and relations between sisters. Discusses each of the novels, and many of the short stories, in elaborate detail. Contains no footnotes or index.