Furrowed Middlebrow, Frances Faviell, Winifred Peck, Stella Gibbons, Barbara Pym, Persephone, Virago

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Rachel Ethelreda Ferguson (1892-1957) was born in Hampton Wick, the youngest of three children. She was educated at home and then sent to a finishing school in Florence, Italy. By the age of 16 she was a fierce campaigner for women’s rights and considered herself a suffragette. She went on to become a leading member of the Women’s Social and Political Union.

In 1911 she became a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She began a career on the stage, which was cut short by the advent of World War I, whereupon Ferguson joined the Women’s Volunteer Reserve. She wrote for Punch, and was the drama critic for the Sunday Chronicle, writing under the name ‘Columbine’. In 1923 she published her first novel, False Goddesses, which was followed by eleven further novels including A Harp in Lowndes Square (1936), A Footman for the Peacock (1940) and Evenfield (1942), all three of which are now available as Furrowed Middlebrow books.

Rachel Ferguson died in Kensington, where she had lived most of her life.

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The peacock displayed himself and paraded the lawn, sometimes pausing to look up at the sky.

Waiting? Listening? Guiding. No. Signalling.

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This book was written for those who don’t despise children’s parties, Edwardian actresses, dancing classes and the scent of lilac over sun-warmed fences.

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In the schoolroom in Lowndes Square, a child, in her ugly, unsuitable frock of plum-coloured satin, cut down when discarded from one of her mother’s, bent over the cutting out of a doll and its cardboard wardrobe, and shivered as she worked.

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