March 3rd, 2010


Ann Bridge

First, a word of hope for all those who, like me, are forever moaning about how hard it is to find old books these days. I picked up this very nice copy of The Dangerous Islands at the weekend for 50p. This is my reward for always being on the lookout. I now find it’s rather a scarce title, which makes it an even more pleasing find.

There’s a bibliography of Ann Bridge’s books on the invaluable Fantastic Fiction site. Although she wrote an autobiography, there’s still no biography of her that I know of and not even a Wikipedia entry. Her papers are held in Austin, Texas.

Mary O’Malley was married to a diplomat, which gave her the background for her first and still her most famous book, Peking Picnic. It’s a story about diplomats in China and chronicles a way of life which has pretty much vanished for both the Chinese and those in the Diplomatic. Laura Leroy, the book’s heroine, is beautiful and charming and readers seem to have fallen in love with her and with the atmospheric descriptions of the country. The book was a wild success; it was even compared with A Passage to India. I find I have three copies in different editions and it’s still in print, in a new Capuchin edition. I hope someone there is sacked for letting the book go to print with the author's name wrongly spelled on the cover!

Ann Bridge’s husband had a successful career (with one major crisis which she got him out of) but he seems to have been an ineffectual sort of person compared with his wife and she became the main bread-winner, writing more than twenty books. In all of them she made good use of her travels, writing about places which were exotic to her readers.
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