Midlands Spring meeting

Angela Thirkell Society members in the Midlands region will hold their Spring meeting in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire on March 23rd 2024.

Angela Thirkell Society members will  discuss Three Houses - the image shows Burne-Jones with his grandchildren. Two of the three houses were his.
Left to right: Denis Mackail, Edward Burne-Jones, Angela Mackail. Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Midlands regional meetings were resumed last year (2023) with two well attended events to discuss Coronation Summer, and Marling Hall. In both cases lively conversation ensued, and an excellent lunch.

Although termed the Midlands region, meetings are open to all Angela Thirkell Society members who feel able and inclined to join us. 

Three Houses, published in 1931 by Oxford University Press, has been chosen as a focus for discussion, but divagations and “snipe flights” should be assumed. You can read a short extract from Three Houses here.

In their 1954 BBC radio interview the writer, Colin MacInnes, and his mother talked about Three Houses, and its ongoing success:

MacInnes: You’ve set those memories down for posterity very charmingly in one of your books, “Three Houses”.  

Thirkell: Well, it was the first book I ever wrote; and it was the only real book, I think. The other books, I’m thankful to say, helped me to earn my living, and help all my large sons, but that book is a very small bit of the history of people in England, and what life was like in the 1890’s, when we thought there’d never be a war again, and everything was comfortable.

MacInnes: I’m sure a great many listeners, Mother, will have read it; but I’m sure that others who haven’t, and perhaps even some who have, will be glad to hear something of what was in it. Well, what were the three houses?

Thirkell: Well, the three houses were, first of all, The Grange, which is North End Road, Fulham, it was then; it’s now West Kensington, where my grandpapa, Edward Burne-Jones, the artist, lived; an enchanting house, which had belonged to Richardson, the novelist, at one time; and then it had been divided into two halves, and our half, unfortunately, had been rather spoilt because a very hideous kind of 1830ish facade had been put on to it.  But otherwise it was quite lovely, because it was still almost country;  all down North End Lane, as it was then… there were just very large family houses, and very large gardens, mostly with orchards, and several of them with cedar trees; and nearly always with a mulberry tree.  In fact, when I was small, I thought that nobody ever lived in a house that hadn’t got a garden and a mulberry tree, because my grandparents had and my parents.

MacInnes: “…Three Houses came out in 1931 and was extremely successful, wasn’t it?”

Thirkell: “Well, it had what is called a succès d’estime [a success in terms of critical appreciation] which means that I never made very much money, but it’s gone on selling and still sells in a gentle way. I make quite £3.7.6d a year out of it regularly.”

MacInnes: “Less Income Tax?”

Thirkell: “Less Income Tax, yes, which is wonderful.”

For Angela, They were never far away!

If you might be interested in joining us in Cheltenham please get in touch using the Contact form, and we’ll send you the full details.


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One response to “Midlands Spring meeting”

  1. Hilary Temple avatar
    Hilary Temple

    People sometimes forget Angela Thirkell is not just about Barsetshire! Glad to have an excuse to re-read Three Houses.

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