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Larne -
Amanda McKittrick Ros- "The worlds worst author"

Antrim map
 

Larne: Amanda McKittrick Ros- "The worlds worst author"

Amanda - or to give her the full pen name she adopted... Amanda Malvina Fitzalan Anna Margaret McClelland McKittrick Ros.was born near Ballynahinch in 1860. She married a railway official fifteen years her senior when she was twenty and lived with him in Larne.

Books

Her first and best-known book was "Irene Iddesleigh" (pub 1897) in which she gave many of her characters alliterative names such as Osbert Otwell. Another of her books she called "Delina Delaney" and a third was "Helen Huddlestone". In this one, all her characters were named after fruit... Lily Lentil and the Duke of Greengage being two. Incidentally, parts of "Helen Huddlestone" were written in dialect making it very hard for the reader to understand...

"How soniver, it seems Beer nex no name til keep dye thing goin ir to keep dthe grandfater ive it birrelin ahes capital's lack mae own".

Poems

Amanda Ros also wrote poetry; brought together in a collection she entitled "Poems of Puncture". A section of her poem on "Westminster Abbey" reads: -

"Holy Moses! Have a look!
Flesh decayed in every nook.
Some rare bits of brain lie here,
Mortal loads of beef and beer.

Critics were unkind but she gave as good as she got and once wrote a ten thousand word tirade against D.B. Wyndam Lewis who had given a scathing review of "Irene Iddlesleigh"

Fan Club

But she also had her followers. Undergraduate students had an Amanda Ros society and used to write to her with praise just to encourage her to write back in her flowery manner. To give a flavour of her writing, here is perhaps the most oft quoted example of her style from "Irene Iddlesleigh".

"Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!"

Her husband died in Larne in 1917 and before the funeral she vetted all the wreaths. Those of which she disapproved were taken back to the senders.

Amanda McKittrick Ros died in 1939.

YOUR RESPONSES

Jonathan R. Pardue (SNU) - Apr '07
I heard today in class, that the Inklings used her writing to induce laughter while drinking at the pub, The Eagle and Child, in Oxford, Enland. They would see who could read her work the longest without laughing. The Inklings were a literary discussion group associated with the likes of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and other intellectuals from the University of Oxford.

Margery Barrett - Dec '06
I am Amanda's great step grandaughter as Andrew Ross was my great grandfather. There is no mention anywhere about my grandmother and my great uncle who lived with her until they ran away as teenagers because she treated them so badly. I have read "O Rare Amanda" and "Thine in Storm and Calm". I would be very interested to hear any information about her.

J.D.O.Burns - Sep '06
As a very young boy I attended Olderfleet School at Larne Harbour and Amanda lived next door in a large grey detached house. I can remember her very well; she was a tall stoutish woman of whom we small children were afraid. She regularly chased us away from being anywhere near her house I recall vaguely that she had a maid who apparently committed suicide by drowning at the Coast Road near Larne and of course because of Amanda's reputation all kinds of stories were told about this.
My father told me about the event of her husband's funeral when she returned wreaths that she considered unfitting. It took place at the time when horse drawn carriages were in fashion and the funeral was attended by various high placed dignitaries from the railway company. The coffin was placed in the carriage drawn by 4 horses and when all those attending were lined up behind it, Amanda came out of the house , said to the coach man "drive like hell" and away it charged up Corran Road leaving everyone standing! She was indeed a "rare" person!

Stephen Hyde - Sep '06
She was miles ahead of her time. She was the first person in literature to refer to the body in terms of North and South. Her books are fantastic and beautifully produced. Read her today!

Thomas - Feb '06
I came upon the following comment on a well known Book Selling Site.

"Originally published in Belfast in in 1897, 'Irene Iddesleigh' was considered by Mark Twain to be one of the greatest unintentionally humorous novels of all time."

Oh, and the price for this book was £55, this one being the cheapest of a dozen copies for sale in the UK and Ireland!

Rebecca - Dec '05
A woman after my own heart. But a comma would be nice - the worst of it she may have been, but Amanda once belonged to the world.

Nancy Beiman - April '05
Amanda McKittrick Ros was not a bad writer. Bad writers are dull.

Amanda's books are delightful, original, and NEVER dull. But I think that she was herself a more amazing creation than her books. Amanda McKittrick Ros was convincd, always, of the rightness of her cause, whether it be literary or legal; and dubbed herself the world's greatest living author. She only read her own books so she should know.

My favorite Ros quote is from a late interview with a BBC journalist who asked her why she named a villain Lord Raspberry.

Mrs. Ros put down her teacup with a startled air. "What else should I have called him?" she said.

That says it all for me.

The only biography of Mrs. Ros, O RARE AMANDA, is worth the search and the read. Fittingly, my copy came from County Antrim, which doubtless has other memorials to this memorable writer.

Liam G Kelly - November '04
Larne and District Historical Society unveiled a plaque in Larne Library several years ago, in memory of Amanda. It can be seen just inside the front door.

 





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