Tuesday, August 12, 2008


No space for Carrington in LMH hall of fame

A few years ago, my well-educated sister gave me for a Christmas present a copy of An anthology of writings from Lady Margaret Hall 1879-2001. I was delighted to receive this tome, but have to admit that it has remained in an undisturbed condition on our bookshelves since the date I received it. Until now.

What prompted me to retrieve it from between Miller’s Antiques Price Guide 1994 and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch was the arrival on my doorstep of another book - the Penguin Classics Edition of Dorothy Carrington’s Granite Island: a Portrait of Corsica. The reason I ordered this new edition is that it contains an introduction by Corsican food writer Rolli Lucarotti, who like most other people on the island over the age of 35, knew the author well. The introduction gives a full and brightly written summary of Dorothy Carrington’s life.

In the years immediately before the Second World War, it seems that Ms Carrington applied to read English at Lady Margaret Hall, at Oxford. They welcomed her with open arms, but she didn’t stay long. In an act of rebellion against the University and her family, she eloped with an Austrian Count and went to Southern Rhodesia where, during their brief marriage, they spent their time hunting everything on four legs.

Needless to say, as soon as I read these lines I rushed to the bookshelf for my anthology of LMH writings to see if any of the works of our illustrious Corsophile had been included in its pages. None had: I can only assume that DC left her alma mater without graduating.

Actually Dorothy Carrington entered LMH in 1929 (she had previously been a pupil at Cheltenham Ladies' College) but was not only disappointed with the teaching there but also felt the atmosphere too restrictive, as she had the 'country set' in Gloucestershire of which her family was part. Whilst at LMH her stepfather took her on an eye-opening trip around Europe and North Africa; it was most likely this trip which made her think that life could offer other opportunities and she abandoned her studies in 1931, eloping to Paris with an impoverished Austrian aristocrat whom she met in Majorca. They subsequently went to live in the wilds of Southern Rhodesia.
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