Thursday, 23 February 2012

Mark the sequel...

So, having completed Dolores, Ivy sent the manuscript to Blackwood's, who promptly rejected it. Undeterred, she passed it on to her brother Noel (the first time he'd seen it), who enlisted the help of his friend and mentor, Oscar Browning ('a man of bad character and European fame,' according to Rupert Brooke), to get it published. But even O.B. failed to interest his publisher in Ivy's manuscript. In the end, it seems that a slightly revised version of the novel was offered to Blackie's, who were not keen, but agreed to print a run of 1,050 copies if £150 was paid by way of subsidy. This was duly agreed, and the book came out in February 1911. But here's the surprising thing - it received some very good reviews. Walter de la Mare, writing anonymously in the TLS, was encouraging, and predicted 'something really striking from the young author' in future - he was right there, but probably not in the way he envisaged, and it would be 14 years before it happened. Still more gratifying to ICB was an almost effusive review in the Daily Mail, which ended with the assertion that 'Dolores is literature; of that no competent critic can have any doubt'. By the end of the year, the edition had all but sold out, Blackie's was clearing its warehouse, and Ivy was offered the hundred or so remaindered copies. According to Olivia Manning, she bought them all and kept them locked up in a cupboard for the rest of her life. Whether this is true or not, no one knows.

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