Celebrating the “World’s Worst Writer”
When I saw the Telegraph’s feature on Amanda McKittrick Ros, I cackled. Yes, cackled. Because this is a writer who came up with fabulous lines like “I will marry you, Lord Raspberry” that I love to quote people when I’ve had a few drinks (or more worryingly, when I haven’t.) But it looks like Ros’s pleasures can now be enjoyed by, er, anyone:
The heaving bosoms, trembling lips, quivering voices and clammy hands
that inhabit the world created by Amanda McKittrick Ros won her many
admirers among the literary elite.
Her novels provided the entertainment at gatherings
of the Inklings, a group of Oxford dons including Lewis and J. R. R.
Tolkien who met from the 1930s to 1950s. They competed to see who could
read her work aloud for longest before starting to laugh.
Ros canon has since slid into obscurity and titles such as Irene
Iddesleigh, Delina Delany and Helen Huddleston are out of print. But
such is the quality of her prose that Ros’s unique contribution to
literature is to be remembered at the forthcoming "Celebrate Literary
At the John Hewitt pub in
Belfast, an Inklings-style Ros reading challenge will be re-created for
the benefit of today’s literati. To borrow one of her own phrases, the
festival organisers are in little doubt that Ros’s gift for "disturbing
the bowels" is still as potent as ever. "She
alliterated obsessively," said Frank Ormsby, the editor of Thine in
Storm and Cabin, an anthology of her work. "Even if one has forgotten
her work for a few years, you only have to read a few paragraphs and
you find the smile broadening on your face. You begin to realise why
her work had such an appeal."
If you’re in Belfast on the 26th, it so looks worth checking out. If you can stand it.