(1892-1990) UK writer for children and adults. Almost all her significant work is set in and about a single house (in reality, the Manor House at Hemingford Grey, north of Cambridge, UK), called Yew Hall or Green Knowe. The real-life house and its sheltering grounds can be regarded as a Polder. Its use as a focusing agent for LMB's fiction – much of it involving Timeslip episodes whose participants are variously connected to the dwelling – helps give that fiction a texture of deeply imagined beingness, a sense that all the times of the house are embraced simultaneously within its arms.
LMB's first novel, Yew Hall (1954), for adults, contains no fantasy elements, though saturated with a sense of potential not easily described in terms of the mimetic tradition. But the Green Knowe sequence – The Children of Green Knowe (1954), The Chimneys of Green Knowe (1958; vt Treasure of Green Knowe 1958 US), The Castle of Yew (1958), The River at Green Knowe (1959), A Stranger at Green Knowe (1961), An Enemy at Green Knowe (1964) and The Stones of Green Knowe (1976) – is fantasy. The first two volumes introduce a young relative of Mrs Olknow (clearly a version of LMB herself) to the house of Green Knowe, and to the various Ghosts who conjoin past and present within the sanction of the house. Beyond the walls – as most of the remaining volumes demonstrate – a more threatening world constantly impinges, either in the form of modern life itself (Hemingford Grey has not escaped unscathed from "development"), or through malign activities, like those of the Witch who features in An Enemy at Green Knowe. In the final volume, a 12th-century inhabitant of the house is enabled, by the eponymous Magic stones, to trace down the centuries the fate of Green Knowe and of those who live there; unusually for a book written ostensibly for children, this concluding tale is dedicated almost exclusively to visions of Thinning.
LMB's refusal of the modern world deeply graces her work as a whole, and seems anything but sentimental. It may be that the unusually close relationship between Reality and fantasy vision, which LMB conveyed with such exactitude, enabled her to couch her refusal in such unanswerable terms. [JC]
other works: Persephone (1969; vt Strongholds 1969 US), associational; The Horned Man, or Whom Will You Send to Fetch Her Away? (1970), a play; Memory in a House (1973) and Perverse and Foolish: A Memoir of Childhood and Youth (1979), both autobiographies.
other works (for younger children): The Sea Egg (1967); The House that Grew (1969); Nothing Said (1971); The Guardians of the House (1974); The Fossil Snake (1975).
Lucy Maria Wood Boston