Welcome to The Angela Thirkell Society

Monochrome portrait of Angela Thirkell. Angela Thirkell Society
Angela Thirkell – by kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery

The Angela Thirkell Society was founded in 1980 by Diana McFarlan of Dublin, Ireland. It’s based in the United Kingdom, with members throughout Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Angela Thirkell (1890 – 1961) wrote over 30 novels. Most are based in the fictional county of Barsetshire created by Anthony Trollope in 1855. Thirkell’s novels were immensely popular in the mid-20th century.

Angela Thirkell’s grandfather was the Pre-Raphaelite painter and designer Sir Edward Burne-Jones,

Angela Thirkell’s Writing

Having enjoyed best-selling status in their heyday, popularity of Thirkell’s books decline for some years. They were thought to be too concerned with the upper middle classes as well as a lifestyle that ceased to exist after World War II.

Her books have for the most part been out of print and poorly stocked in libraries for some years, although in the USA, nearly all of them have been republished in paperback.

Happily, with the revival of interest in middlebrow 20th century literature, the situation continues to improve.

An accurate and wickedly funny record

Photograph of Diana McFarlan, the founder of The Angela Thirkell Society
Founder, Diana McFarlan

To the modern reader the books are increasingly of interest. They are an astonishingly accurate record of English country life from the mid-1930s. They extend through the War, as well as the years of austerity afterwards. Thirkell wrote at the rate of a book a year. She portrayed village and small town life exactly as the events of the day affected. Not just the county families but also the doctors, lawyers and architects, agricultural and domestic workers with whom their lives were associated.

Angela Thirkell’s often caustic wit, her accurate and wickedly funny realisation of unforgettable characters, and her interpolation of an extraordinary range of references and allusions, ranging from Homeric similes through English literature from William Shakespeare through Charles Dickens (and of course Anthony Trollope) to her cousin Rudyard Kipling, historical episodes, nursery rhymes, laced with a sound knowledge of what everyday life was like, mean that one can read and re-read her books.

PresidentThomas Thirkell
ChairmanHilary Temple
Committee SecretarySarah Preston
Membership EnquiriesSue Jenkins
TreasurerSally Phillips

Enthusiasts in the Americas may like to visit our North American associates The Angela Thirkell Society of North America.