Antonia White, author of Frost in May

Antonia White, English author

Antonia White (born Eirene Botting, March 31, 1899 – April 10, 1980) was a British author best known for her autobiographical novel Frost in May

In addition to producing other novels and short stories, she was an accomplished translator from French to English.

Her well-documented struggles with mental health resulted in her being committed to an asylum in her early twenties, an experience that she used as the basis for some of her fiction. Other notable themes in both her life and work were religion, particularly Catholicism, and her difficult relationship with her father and daughters.


Early life and introduction to religion

Antonia’s early years were spent at the family home in Kensington, and at Binesfield, the Sussex cottage owned by her paternal grandparents. When in London she spent most of her time either alone with her beloved toy dog Dash, or in the care of the already busy housekeeper.

Antonia’s father, Cecil Botting, was a renowned classics scholar and teacher, and it was he who unilaterally chose the hated birth name of Eirene Botting, spelled in the classical Greek way, for his only daughter. (She would change it later, using her mother’s maiden name of White and her childhood nickname ‘Tony’ as the basis for the more feminized ‘Antonia’.)

Nevertheless, Cecil assumed an importance and dominance in Antonia’s life that far outweighed that of her mother, Christine. Biographer Jane Dunn wrote that he ‘looms as the most imposing, demanding, and threatening male figure in Antonia’s life.’

Cecil’s interest in his daughter was more intellectual than emotional, and he started teaching her Greek when she was just three years old. However, it was Cecil’s religious epiphany and conversion to Catholicism that had the greatest, and arguably the most damaging, effect on the young Antonia.

At just seven years old, she was obliged to follow her father into the Church, and for the first time was exposed to the concepts of religious sin and guilt; she later said: ‘I never did feel free again.’

She felt that the religion had been imposed on her, and would spend the rest of her life in the spiritual conundrum of having been neither born to Catholicism nor irrevocably drawn to it herself, unable to abandon it completely and yet also unable to accept the fundamental tenets of a faith that she never wholeheartedly believed in.


The Convent of the Sacred Heart

In September 1908, Antonia was enrolled as a pupil at the Convent of the Sacred Heart Roehampton, a well-established Catholic boarding school that drew an international group of students, mostly from high-ranking European families.

She felt out of place, both as a middle-class girl and as a recent convert who hadn’t yet learned (and never really would learn) how to wear her religion casually.

‘I could not boast of having been dedicated to Our Lady and dressed exclusively in blue and white for my first seven years; I had not even a patron saint,’ she recalled. The spiritual regime under the nuns did little to encourage her.

Bright, talented, and eager to learn, her enthusiasm and natural pride in her achievements were crushed and dismissed as sinful. It was not her will that counted, she was taught, but God’s, and her desires must be broken in order to be remade in God’s own fashion.

It was at the Convent that Antonia’s tortured relationship with creativity and writing began. She credited her time there with inspiring her to write; she genuinely believed that without the nuns’ education, she would never have picked up her pen.

On the other hand, it was also at the Convent that she received a cruel blow to her burgeoning creativity, one that she would also later blame for her lifelong writer’s block.

She had fallen ill during the spring term of 1914 and started a novel during her convalescence, both as a way of passing the time and as a way of winning her father’s approval (which she was forever seeking and usually failing to find) for her piety.

The plot involved the heroine becoming a Carmelite nun and the hero becoming a Jesuit, both sinners reformed by faith. Unfortunately, the manuscript was discovered at the sinning stage, before she had had a chance to write their conversion.

On her fifteenth birthday, she was summoned to face her father, who accused her of perversity and indecency and gave her no chance to explain or defend herself, and ordered that she leave the Convent immediately. Antonia would always maintain that this episode had traumatized her to such an extent that she was never able to write from pure imagination again.

All of her work would be heavily based on real events, and her first novel Frost in May was essentially an account of her time at Roehampton with all her conflicting feelings about it, the vivid and narrative told through the voice of young Nanda Grey.


Teaching and a first marriage

After finishing her schooling at St Paul’s Girls School, Antonia rejected her father’s ambitions for her to go to university and instead took a series of jobs, first as a governess to a wealthy Catholic family and then as a teacher at a boys’ school.

The money was a key factor in her decision; she considered her own income vital for her independence, and her finances (or lack of them) would preoccupy her for the rest of her life.

Although she had always rebelled against the idea of becoming a ‘schoolmarm,’ Antonia found that she enjoyed it. She taught Latin, French, and Greek, but struggled to control her classes and had to negotiate the boys’ good behavior by agreeing to tell them ghost stories halfway through the lesson if they had completed all their work.

She was asked to leave after two terms when the headmaster walked in at the climax of a particularly gruesome story. This period of her life was later fictionalized in her second novel, The Lost Traveller.

During this time she met Reggie Green-Wilkinson. They were ill-suited: Antonia later described the two of them as Hansel and Gretel, two doomed children wandering in the woods of London, but they became engaged when Antonia was just turning twenty-one.

After their marriage, they set up home together in Chelsea, where Antonia felt free of the constraints of her Kensington childhood, and that she could become the artist she wanted to become. It was here that Antonia first experienced the mental illness that would afflict her for the rest of her life.

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Antonia White, author of Frost in May

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The asylum

Her third novel, The Sugar House, details this difficult time with an acute and harrowing awareness; on rereading it later, Antonia commented, ‘… all that queer, horrid Chelsea time leading up to the asylum…How painfully well it described this state of mind which I first knew in 1921.’

It began with a feeling of depression and isolation, a state which quickly escalated into oppressive fear and disorientation. She felt non-existent, to the extent that she was surprised to see letters addressed to her, and once rushed into the sitting room full of mirrors expecting to see nothing reflected in them.

Reggie was also unhappy, drinking heavily, and their poor financial situation did not help her state of mind. In summer 1922 she began the process of annulment, an excruciating process that took two years to complete and involved an interview and a physical examination.

Her mental health declined rapidly, and the period of depression was followed by a mania so severe that she felt it was almost supernatural. Later, in her fourth novel Beyond the Glass, she would write of this experience: ‘It was difficult sometimes not to burst out singing or laughing from sheer ecstatic joy’, and she explained this fictionalized episode to her friend Emily Coleman by saying that, ‘She [Clara] is going mad without knowing it, and this false ecstasy is the sign.’

By November 1922, Antonia’s health had deteriorated to such an extent that her father had her committed to Bethlem Royal Hospital. Violent, fearful, free of any inhibitions, she was unable to communicate properly and was deemed a risk to herself and others.

She stayed there for nine months, during which time she was subjected to padded cells, strait-jackets, icy cold baths, force-feeding, and a regimen of strong sedative drugs, all often experienced through hallucinations and psychosis. It was an experience that was both rich and terrifying. She was finally discharged in August 1923 and returned to her parents’ house in London.


Family life of sorts

In April 1925, Antonia married her friend Eric Earnshaw Smith. He was a homosexual, and their love — although very real — was purely platonic, which suited Antonia. She was terrified of sexual relations and had never found any pleasure in them.

A talented poet who also worked for the Foreign Office, Eric was probably the most important man in Antonia’s life after her father. He gave her the intellectual stimulation and companionship she craved and was able to deal with her continued violent tempers and mood swings. His gentle questioning and debate around spirituality were also influential in her gradual estrangement from the Catholic Church. Both had affairs but never strayed too far from the other.

By 1928, however, Antonia felt that she was ready for a relationship that encompassed sexual love as well. It was at this time that she met Silas Glossop, a mining engineer who wrote poetry and loved reading.

Initially, the affair was simply one more in her open marriage to Eric, but in December 1928, Antonia discovered that she was pregnant. Her subsequent decision to leave Eric for Silas was, she claimed, one of the hardest she ever made, and one that she often regretted.

During her pregnancy, Silas took a mining job in Canada, hoping that he would have the opportunity after his contract to complete his doctorate at Harvard. He needed the job to provide for his unexpected family, and despite Antonia’s unhappiness over the separation he left in May 1929.

On August 18, after a long and difficult labor, their daughter Susan was born, but with the little family still separated and Antonia’s mental health still precarious (especially after the death of her father in November 1929), she was quickly sent to a private residential nursery at Roehampton and remained there for almost a year.

During this time, Antonia had supplemented her allowance from Silas with part-time work at an advertising agency, Crawford’s. She had previously worked freelance as a copywriter, and while she did not enjoy the work (believing it to be routine and in direct opposition to her creative ambitions) it paid well, and she was good at it. It was here that she met Tom Hopkinson.

From the start their relationship was unbalanced; she was much more romantically attracted to him, while he was more sexually attracted to her.

But when Silas finally returned to London in September 1930, Antonia was forced to make another choice. This time it came down to money, and after several months of turmoil, she settled on Tom: ‘I believe I wouldn’t marry Si because he had no money. I believe I married Tom because he had a regular job and a hundred pounds or two…’

Her decision was settled when, in November of that year, she discovered she was pregnant again. Given the confusion of the past weeks could not be sure who the father was, but with Tom’s relatively stable financial situation it suited her to have him believe it was his child.

For several years she also allowed Susan to believe that Tom was her father too. Tom and Antonia were married in November 1930 in Carlisle Cathedral, and another daughter, Lyndall, was born in July 1931.

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Frost in May by Antonia White
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Frost in May, and the end of another marriage

The following years were ones of highs and lows for Antonia, both professionally and personally, and defined by continued mental health struggles. Her relationship with Tom was a difficult one: both felt used by the other in the marriage but were encouraging and supportive to each other in their writing.

It was with Tom’s support that, in November 1932, Frost in May was finally finished. It was accepted for publication by the fledgling Harmsworth, with later editions published by the Nonesuch Press, and its success was such that it upset the delicate equilibrium of Antonia’s relationship with Tom, who felt that he was fast becoming the inferior partner in an already unequal marriage.

In December of that year, he signed a letter to her, ‘your foolish, incompetent, ill-writing, conceited, detestable, unintelligent and worn-out husband, Tom.’

Tom embarked on an affair with a married woman, Frances Grigson, signaling the beginning of the end of the marriage and the start of a cycle of mental illness for Antonia which would never really end.

Sojourns with friends (such Emily Coleman, Peggy Guggenheim, and Djuna Barnes) left her more exhausted than refreshed, and a trip to Brittany with Tom in 1934 was cut short after Antonia suffered recurring and terrifying hallucinations and nightmares.

She became desperate, attempting to describe ‘the beast,’ as she called it, to Tom: ‘This perpetual inner torture is a disease and productive of no good to myself and no one else. But no act of will can destroy it … this meaningless suffering is like a cancer, making one repulsive to oneself and everyone else.’ She pleaded with him to kill her, saying that, ‘It would be much the best thing for you to do.’

The episode left Antonia feeling lonely, isolated, and tormented with guilt. By 1935 her relationship with Tom broke under the strain. She moved out of the family home, leaving him with the children and a nurse for help, and began a course of intensive psychoanalysis with Dr. Dennis Carroll that would last four years.


The start of a troubled relationship

Antonia’s mental breakdowns were mirrored in her eldest daughter Susan. It was the first of many in which the struggles of the mother would be echoed in the daughter. Tom was sufficiently concerned that he arranged for Susan to have a course of psychoanalysis.

It was also arranged that he should move out of the family home to allow Antonia to move back in, a surprising suggestion from Dr. Carroll. It was intended to make both Antonia and Susan feel more secure, but given the children’s closeness to Tom, and Antonia’s delicate state of mind at the time, it wasn’t entirely a success.

In 1937 Antonia instigated a divorce from Tom. Although in future years she would have affairs—- notably with Eric Siepmann, Bertrand Russell, and David Gascoyne — she would never marry or have a lasting relationship again. She also finally told Susan that her real father was Silas.

Silas, although now deep into a love affair with Djuna Barnes, was happy to take Susan to tea once a week, and Susan appeared to like the idea of having a father all to herself. The emotional impact, however, of feeling as if Tom was no longer hers (and also that Lyndall was now somewhat estranged from her) increased Susan’s already apparent feelings of loneliness.

The impact of Antonia’s moods and mental state began to affect her more directly. It was the start of a difficult and troubling period in Antonia’s relationship with her eldest daughter that would last for several years.


War work, and return to Catholicism

As Britain prepared for war, Antonia’s mental state improved markedly. In 1939 she wrote to Emily Coleman, ‘Funnily enough I’ve never had such a peaceful life as I’ve had since Sept. 1st…I feel very calm, only fretting in inaction.’

In December, her mother died and she inherited Binesfield, the Sussex cottage that had given her so much pleasure in her childhood. She hoped to be able to live there with the children, but concerns about bombing delayed the move. When Antonia got a job with the BBC, working on their American and Canadian programs, it was put off altogether. 

Susan was hurriedly packed off to boarding school in Salisbury, while Lyndall was sent to live with Tom and his new wife, Gerti. Antonia thrived in the high-pressure atmosphere of London during the Blitz and attempted to maintain some semblance of family life by visiting Susan some weekends. She didn’t, however, bother to visit Lyndall, who after 1942 was a boarder at Headington School near Oxford.

In 1943 she left her job at the BBC and began working at PID, the secret Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, where she worked with Americans on propaganda operations in France.

The work was intense, often six or seven days a week and long hours each day, and while at first, Antonia loved the busyness of it she soon became burnt out. The demands of wartime took their toll, and she struggled with the old symptoms of depression, weeping, and lethargy. 

She found some consolation in her religion, to which she had returned quietly at the end of 1940. She had been engaging in correspondence with a Joseph Thorp, known as Peter, who had first written to her about Frost in May.

Their letters concentrated on religion and Catholicism and turned into an acute analysis of Antonia’s shifting intellectual and spiritual beliefs. This correspondence was eventually published in 1965 as The Hound and the Falcon.


Domineering women

At the end of the war, two women came into Antonia’s life who would dominate her mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for some years afterward. In 1946, she met Benedicta Bezer, a recent convert to Catholicism who had previously led a wild life of drugs and clubs in London and Paris, and who was known as a lesbian.

The two women became very close very quickly, and even Antonia would later look back and view their relationship as one of the more bizarre episodes of her life. Benedicta herself was close to insanity, and her manias presented themselves as religious fervor, saintly delusions, and prayer sessions that could last for days.

Both Antonia and eventually Susan (who had followed her mother into Catholicism, and been baptized at Brompton Oratory in August 1945) were drawn into a toxic web of hysteria that bordered on madness. Antonia admitted that her attraction to Benedicta was partly sexual, and Susan felt spellbound, entranced by Benedicta’s attractiveness and religious passion.

But it was not long before the fervor sparked a crisis and collapse in Susan and a subsequent similar collapse in Antonia. The relationship with Benedicta was over, but the shared experience of infatuation and loss brought Antonia and Susan closer together than ever before.

Antonia, however, immediately fell into the circles of Dorothy Kingsmill, a self-styled, untrained psychoanalyst, who used her ‘intuitive gift’ to manipulative ends. Antonia turned to her for treatment after the debacle with Benedicta, and although she did not pay in money for their sessions (since Dorothy considered it her vocation) a relationship of control and obligation developed.

In August and September of 1947, Antonia suffered a series of psychological crises, alternating between severely heightened anxiety and the ‘downers’ of complete lethargy. At the same time, Dorothy experienced a nervous breakdown which she blamed on the strain of dealing with Antonia’s “shadow side.”

The relationship with Dorothy finally broke down in 1949 with letters from Dorothy accusing Antonia of being ‘depraved’ and ‘monstrous,’ leaving Antonia exhausted and mentally fragile. 


The Lost Traveller, translation, and estrangement from Susan

In April 1950, The Lost Traveller was published. In it, Nanda Grey’s name had been changed to Clara Batchelor, but her character and the story were essentially continuations of Frost in May, and the book was just as autobiographical; a powerful evocation of the adolescent struggle Antonia herself had faced between the spiritual life and the attractions of the outside world.

She felt eased by the publication and the positive reviews and was able to start work almost immediately on the next book in the sequence, The Sugar House. It was at this time too that she started translating from French, beginning with Guy de Maupassant’s Une Vie for Hamish Hamilton. Over several years she would translate hundreds of books, including Colette’s entire oeuvre, into English.

While her professional and artistic life was looking up, Antonia faced increasing difficulties with her daughters. Susan had returned home from Oxford University in spring 1948, on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

While Antonia was very happy to nurse her, grateful for the opportunity to try and make up for some of her failings as a mother during Susan’s early years, her diaries at this time are full of uncompromising analysis of Susan’s character, and the perceived failings in her personality that had led her to this point.

Antonia, ever her own worst critic, could not help but dole the same out to her daughter. Susan returned to Oxford to finish her degree, but in spring 1951 attempted suicide by swallowing one hundred codeine tablets. ‘It was a dull job’, she later wrote, ‘and I read Of Mice and Men most of the night to pass the time.’

Her future husband, Thomas Chitty, found her in time and rushed her to the Radcliffe Infirmary. On her release from the hospital she moved back in with Antonia, only for Antonia to throw her out a few weeks later in a row over furniture. Within three weeks, Susan had married Thomas Chitty in a secret ceremony to which only Lyndall, Silas, and Silas’s new wife Sheila were invited.

Both Susan and Thomas sent Antonia letters informing her of their wedding, posted so that they would arrive when they were away on honeymoon. It was the beginning of estrangement, on Susan’s instigation, that would last for almost six years. Not until 1957 was some semblance of a relationship re-established.

Lyndall, meanwhile, had always felt that Antonia was jealous of both her and Susan, resenting both their beauty and any happiness that they might find with other people. But with Susan estranged, Antonia and Lyndall began to spend more time together and for a while, the shift comforted and healed them both. Lyndall later wrote that she ‘began to realize this person I had always feared as a monster was also a human being.’

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The lost traveller by Antonia White. . . . . . . . .

The Sugar House, Beyond the Glass, and cats

The Sugar House was finished by the end of 1951 and published in summer 1952. Antonia felt it was her strongest book, with a vivid psychological understanding of her mental disintegration during the early 1920s. However, she was less sure about how it would be received, especially since the literary landscape was changing so rapidly.

Opinion seemed very set against religion in general and Catholicism in particular, and with the emergence of authors such as William Cooper and Kingsley Amis, the struggles of a young middle-class girl with sex and spirituality seemed outdated. She was proven somewhat correct when reviews were mixed; in her mind, they were some of the ‘most hostile I have ever had.’

The writing of the next novel began slowly, but by April 1954 she had finished Beyond the Glass. It was completed through a period of continued depression, and also while Antonia was incredibly busy with her translation work. This time the critics responded positively, and Antonia was pleased that the book brought her the recognition she felt she deserved.

But Beyond the Glass ended with Clara hesitating on the edge of life, just released from the asylum and unsure of where to go next, still entranced by the intensity of life in the grip of ‘the beast’ and unconvinced that a so-called sane world had anything comparable to offer.

Antonia would struggle for the rest of her life to write the next stage of Clara’s journey, but was always unable to; at times the effort would drive her to the brink of madness again.

Her next literary endeavor were two children’s books starring her two Siamese cats, Minka and Curdy, acquired at the end of 1954. Antonia had always loved cats, and their antics provided her with joy and amusement for almost eighteen years.


‘Schoolmarm’ in America

In August 1958 Antonia received an unexpected invitation: to teach creative writing at St Mary’s, a Catholic girl’s school in South Bend, Indiana. Antonia agreed to go for a term, beginning in September 1959, and teaching a select group of twenty students.

Her time there, she wrote to Lyndall, opened her eyes to the possibilities of teaching; she came to love and admire her students and was admired and respected in return. She embraced the American way of life and was keen to try everything, including hot dogs and watching American football (for which she developed an unlikely but lasting passion).

‘I’m just immersing myself,’ she wrote to Emily Coleman, ‘love it, get bewildered, don’t mind, can hardly remember England…’ But by the end of term, she began to find that institutional life suited her less. She was uneasy around the nuns, and although they tried to persuade her to stay on, she left after the agreed term. After a period of traveling and sightseeing, she returned home in February 1960.


Ill health and writer’s block

Back in London, Antonia found herself unable to write, unsettled when her landlord forced the sale of her flat and was beset by health problems. By 1965 she was forced to see her doctor with swellings around her eyes, and further mental health issues resulted in a course of antidepressants (which she had never had before), and a stint as an outpatient at the Cassel Hospital in Richmond.

But despite the pills and analysis, her depression would not lift, and grew worse after she had to have Curdy, one of her beloved cats, put down.

In October 1968 she endured the first operation for cataracts. She continued to try and work on translations that were due, conscious that she needed the money, but other health problems dogged her. She was now completely deaf without a hearing aid, and her sight never recovered sufficiently for her to feel confident walking out and about on her own.

A bout of double pneumonia sent her to hospital in December 1969. Although both daughters were abroad — Susan in Boston where Thomas had an academic job, and Lyndall in Italy — friends and old lovers, including Tom and Silas, rallied around. Her second cataract operation, unable to be postponed any longer, was scheduled for October 1970, but she contracted an eye infection afterward, which exacerbated her pain and prolonged her stay in the hospital.

In April 1971, after the vet diagnosed Minka with cancer, she also had to put her down. She was further depressed by seemingly constant news of the death of friends, but it was the deaths of Eric Earnshaw Smith later in 1971, and Emily Coleman in 1974, which affected her most deeply.

In her grief, she turned once again to writing, accepting translations as they came along (including Voltaire and Simenon). She didn’t find much solace in her religion, only attending church on Sundays and Holidays of Obligation instead of her previous three times a week at Mass.


Virago and a resurgence in popularity

At the beginning of 1977, Antonia was introduced to Carmen Callil, a young Australian publisher who was running the feminist publishing house Virago and who would become a close friend to Antonia for the rest of her life. She was on the lookout for new publishing ideas, and a mutual friend (Michael Holroyd) suggested that she reissue Frost in May.

Carmen was enthralled by the book, and the idea for Virago Modern Classics was born. Frost in May was reissued in summer 1978, and was a brilliant success: television and radio rights were sold, and Carmen decided to also reissue the trilogy of Clara books.

However, when she asked Antonia to write the introduction, writer’s block took hold once again and Antonia was unable to write even a sentence.

Carmen, attempting to interview her to help the process along, ‘sat opposite her … and I watched pain so great overcome her it twisted her body.’ The interview was eventually completed, Carmen wrote the introduction herself, and Clara enjoyed the same resurgence in popularity as Nanda.


The final breakdown

In July 1978, Antonia suffered a mild stroke that affected her memory and her ability to talk, and further health problems followed in January 1979 when she was confirmed as having bowel cancer. She commenced intensive radiotherapy treatment, but her physical condition deteriorated rapidly.

Conscious of the state she was in, she decided that she wanted to rewrite her will; it had changed several times over the years as her relationship with her daughters first declined and then improved. Now, given the resurgent success of her books, she wanted to determine once and for all the issue of who would act as literary executor.

Previously, the choice had been Susan, but she now changed it so that Carmen, Susan, and Lyndall were joint literary executors. Lyndall, however, renounced most of her claim to Antonia’s financial estate, saying that Susan now had four children and needed the money far more. This reworking of the will, although well-intentioned, caused huge problems later on when the executors couldn’t agree.

In October 1979, Antonia moved from her London flat into a Catholic nursing home in Sussex, close to Susan and Thomas’s home. There, her mental and physical condition went rapidly downhill.

The old guilt and fear associated with her Catholicism violently resurfaced, and friends who visited were shocked at the terror they saw in her eyes. She no longer recognized either of her daughters and died in her sleep, on April 10, 1980.


Two daughters, two memoirs

After Antonia’s death, her literary legacy was assured thanks to Carmen and Virago. Her personal legacy, however, was not such a happy one. Both Susan and Lyndall embarked on memoirs of their mother, which inevitably generated competition between them and dredged up old, painful, and often very different memories.

When Susan’s memoir Now To My Mother: A Very Personal Memoir of Antonia White was published in 1985, Lyndall wrote to a couple of newspapers to point out some inaccuracies in quotes from Antonia’s diaries, and also to deny Susan’s claim that Lyndall, too, had hated their mother in childhood.

By the time Lyndall’s memoir was published (Nothing To Forgive: A Daughter’s Life of Antonia White, 1988), the relationship between the sisters had broken down completely. Only one task remained, the editing of Antonia’s diaries for publication, and they could not agree on who should do it.

Lyndall and Carmen argued that Susan was clearly too biased and that no daughter whose relationship with her mother had been so troubled could possibly undertake such a monumental task. Susan argued that she wrote biographies professionally, and besides, couldn’t afford to pay someone outside the family to do it.

Eventually, Susan took legal action, and as the sole financial beneficiary under Antonia’s will, won her case. The diaries, edited completely by her, appeared in two volumes in 1991 and 1992.

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Contributed by Elodie Barnes. Elodie is a writer and editor with a serious case of wanderlust. Her short fiction has been widely published online, and is included in the Best Small Fictions 2022 Anthology published by Sonder Press. She is Books & Creative Writing Editor at Lucy Writers Platform, she is also co-facilitating What the Water Gave Us, an Arts Council England-funded anthology of emerging women writers from migrant backgrounds. She is currently working on a collection of short stories, and when not writing can usually be found planning the next trip abroad, or daydreaming her way back to 1920s Paris. Find her online at  Elodie Rose Barnes. 

More about Antonia White

Major works (selected)

  • Frost In May (1933; republished by Virago 1978)
  • The Lost Traveller  (1950; republished by Virago 1979)
  • The Sugar House  (1952; republished by Virago 1979)
  • Beyond the Glass  (1954; republished by Virago 1979)
  • Strangers: Short Stories  (1954; republished by Virago 1981)
  • The Hound and the Falcon  (1965;  republished by Virago 1980)
  • As Once in May (1983)


  • Now To My Mother: A Very Personal Memoir of Antonia White by Susan Chitty (1985)
  • Nothing To Forgive: A Daughter’s Life of Antonia White by Lyndall Passerini Hopkinson (1988)
  • Antonia White: Diaries (Vol.1 1926-1957, Vol. 2 1958-1979), ed. by Susan Chitty (1991-1992)
  • Antonia White: A Life, by Jane Dunn (1998)

More information

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