Macaulay, Rose

Tagged: Author

(1881-1958) UK author of twenty-three novels from 1906, the most famous being her last, The Towers of Trebizond (1956). Some of these books – such as And No Man's Wit (1940), in which a mermaid appears – venture edgily into fantasy. Her experiences of World War One, in voluntary aid, as a land-girl, and later in the War Office, seem to have shaped Non-Combatants and Others (1916), a nonfantastic pacifist novel that was deplored in the climate of the time. What Not: A Prophetic Comedy (1918; libellous passages cut 1919), set several years into the Near Future after the end of the War, depicts in Satirical terms the coming to power in the UK of an autocratic government designed to counter postwar crises, partly by forbidding marriage. Although copies exist of the 1918 version, two passages of which portray a newspaper proprietor attempting political blackmail, it seems only a few copies were ever released, only to be swiftly withdrawn after a suit for libel was threatened; with the offending passages rewritten, the novel was fully released the next year. Mystery at Geneva: An Improbable Tale of Singular Happenings (1922) is set in an undefined Near Future where a monarchist counter-revolution has replaced the Bolsheviks in Russia and a reporter (a woman in drag) helps save the League of Nations from a conspiracy designed to restore communism. Orphan Island (1924) is a borderline Utopia (see also Islands) set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and satirizing conventional Victorian social and sexual mores (see Sex).

In the nonfiction Pleasure of Ruins (1953), a text haunted by memories and images of the ruins left by World War Two, Macaulay introduced into English usage the German term Ruinenlust in her astute analysis of the complex range of cultural significations and avidities embedded in the contemplation of the Ruin from about 1750 on (see Ruins and Futurity); the 2014 Tate Gallery exhibition "Ruin Lust", takes its title with acknowledgement from her text. In the year of her death Macaulay was made a Dame of the British Empire. [JC]

see also: Politics.

Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay

born Rugby, Warwickshire: 1 August 1881

died London: 30 October 1958



  • Pleasure of Ruins (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953) [nonfiction: illus/various: hb/from the Temple of Apollo Didymaeus]

about the author


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