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Ivy Compton-Burnett
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    (June 5, 1884-August 27, 1969)
    Born in Pinner, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
    Wrote novels focused on family life in the Victorian/Edwardian upper middle class
    Titles include 'Pastors and Masters' (1925), 'A House and Its Head' (1935), 'Daughters and Sons' (1937), 'Manservant and Maidservant' (1947), 'The Present and the Past' (1953), 'A Heritage and Its History' (1959), and 'The Last and the First' (published posthumously, 1971)
    Writing style emphasized dialogue with little description or action
    Named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1967)
    Last name pronounced 'cumpton burnit'
    Based on her novels, her friends assumed she came from the landed gentry, a misapprehension she did nothing to correct. (Most of her ancestors had actually been farm laborers.)
    One lifelong friend observed, 'In the end, she learned to talk like one of her own characters.'
    Her books make for difficult reading; she herself quipped, 'Once you pick up a Compton-Burnett, it's hard not to put it down again.'
    She was described by one critic as 'the least-read great novelist.'
    She never actually said one of the more memorable quotes attributed to her: her alleged comment on an aging acquaintance, 'Pushing forty? She's clinging to it for dear life!'
    She almost died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.
    Her novels were admired by her fellow writers.
    Virginia Woolf described her own writing as 'much inferior to the bitter truth and intense originality of Miss Compton-Burnett.'
    Rebecca West wrote, 'You'd have to be very tasteless not to see that she had something unique to give to her age.'
    V.S. Pritchett called her 'the most original novelist now writing in English.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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