Our third book this October is One Woman’s Year (1953) by Stella Martin Currey. It consists of funny and useful essays on domestic life, recipes, quotations, extracts from favourite books and woodcuts and provides a great insight into 1950s life. How much easier some things were and how much more difficult others!

room again

A Room of One’s Own naturally has a contemporan-eous design by Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell. Notice that the pink is deeper in the top left hand corner – and varies over the page. This design was not made into a fabric until last year, when a small company (WeLoveCushions) in the UK started making cushions, lampshades and deck chair out of it. We shall be selling these in the shop.

expiation fabric

And now for the three fabrics. This is for Expiation by Elizabeth von Arnim: such an extraordinary book – about a woman who is cut out of her husband’s will because he had discovered she had been ‘sinning’ every Wednesday afternoon. It is funny and perceptive and yet, like all great novels, has more than a touch of profundity.

Stella Martin Currey

This is Stella Martin Currey, author of One Woman’s Year. It’s a crunch week for the PB, with all three of us working on it before Friday’s deadline. And changes are made up to the last minute – so this lovely photograph may not make the final cut. But of course it will be online in the authors’ page.

rex whistler rosanagh chrichton 1938

The new Biannually goes to the printer on Friday so this week on the Post some glimpses of what it will contain when your copy arrives (around October 22nd). This is the cover: a portrait of Rosanagh Crichton Convalescing in Bed by Rex Whistler dated 2nd July 1938.

Edinburgh Mabel Pryde Nicholson 'The Grange, Rottingdean' 1912

A week of brilliant women; all of whom could have had at least a week each of the Post to themselves. Finally here is Mabel Pryde Nicholson (1871-1918) who is perhaps the most intrguing of them all. Here Tim Cornwell writes: “Pryde was the youngest of seven children, daughter of Dr David Pryde, Chairman of the Edinburgh Pen and Pencil Club and headmaster of Edinburgh Ladies’ College. Her father insisted that the failure to educate girls was ‘one of the great calamities of the human race’; her mother was said to be a domestic despot. In a wild family, she was described careering along the garden walls of Edinburgh on stilts. Reflected, perhaps, in the sturdy faces looking out of her paintings.” She persuaded her father to let her attend art school when she was seventeen and it was there that she met the painter William Nicholson (1872-1949) whom she married in 1893 without her parents’ permission. Prydie, as she was known, appears in the portrait of her (now much more famous relatives) ‘The Bloomsbury Family‘ by William Orpen: she is a (shrunken-faced and slightly haunted?) figure in the background of the family scene.  Above is ‘The Grange, Rottingdean’ which shows two of her four children; Annie ‘Nancy’ Nicholson (1899–1978), the textile artist who married the poet Robert Graves in 1918. And in the background is the architect Christoper ‘Kit’ Nicholson (1904-48) who married another textile designer, EQ Nicholson (nee Myers), who designed ‘Black Goose’ used for the endpaper in PB 14, Farewell Leciester Square.



Edinburgh Anne Redpath 'The Indian Rug (Red Slippers)' 1942


Anne Redpath (1895-1965) was at the ECA during WWI and then moved to France with her husband, the architect James Beattie Michie, in 1920 where she took a break from painting to raise their three sons. They moved back to Britain in the mid-1930s, leading increasingly separate lives. The 1940s was a period of intense productivity for Redpath; she moved back to Edinburgh and created Post Impressionist still lifes. Her  ‘The Indian Rug (Red Slippers)’, 1942, shows, for example, the influence of Matisse (the red stool and slippers here surely an homage to his 1908 masterpeiece  ‘The Red Room‘).

Edinburgh Beatrice Huntington

Beatrice Huntington (1889-1988) was a celebrated protrait painter in the 1920s and 30s. She grew up in St Andrews and trained in Paris, Munich and London (and studied the cello in Leipzig). She moved to Dundee after WWI to study under the painter William Macdonald whom she married in 1925. They moved to a flat on Hanover Street, Edinburgh in 1929 and lived there for the rest of their lives. They travelled extensively throughout Europe, particularly in Spain which is reflected in the subject of  this twenties painting ‘A Muleteer from Andalucia’. Alice Strang, editor of Modern Scottish Women writes ‘It comes from a series of works which reveal an awareness of Cubism’ presumably from her training in Paris. ‘The faceted handling of the sitter’s face and the overall austerity of design, seen in the plain background and the flattened depiction of the hat and jacket, illustrate Huntington’s declaration that “simplification is not omitting, it is containing and that comes with knowledge and hard work.”‘

Edinburgh Dorothy Johnstone 'Rest Time in the Life Class' 1923


Dorothy Johnstone was born in Edinburgh on Christmas day in 1892. Immensely talented, she enrolled at the ECA aged sixteen and exhibited her first painting to the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA), ‘The Broken String’, in 1912 before she was twenty. Due to the mobilisation of the male work force she began teaching at the ECA in 1914. In 1919 she joined the re-formed Edinburgh Group, a small society of exhibiting artists including Cecile Walton. ‘Rest Time in Life Class’ was painted in 1923 – the figure at the easel at the back is a self-portrait. When she married David Macbeth Sutherland (another member ofr the Edinburgh Group) she had to give up her post at the ECA because the Marriage Bar prevented a married woman from holding full-time teaching positions. The couple had two children, Iain and Anne, and Dorothy continued painting, working from home at the kitchen table. Sutherland was appointed Head of Gray’s School of Art in 1933 and the family moved to Aberdeen.  In 1962 Johnstone was elected an Associate of the RSA, one of the first six women to be elected to the Academy. She died near Rhyl, Denbighshire, in 1980.

Robert Burns with Edinburgh College of Art students


A week in Edinburgh this August included a visit to the elegant national galleries and introduced us to many new Scottish painters. Here are some of the female students of the Edinburgh College of Art (c.1911) with the painter Robert Burns. When the ECA opened in 1908 (merging two smaller Academies) it charged an annual fee of £5 and accepted women on an equal basis to men. Because the fees were relatively small, working men were able to attend in the evening which meant that many of the daytime classes were full of female pupils; this must have been one such class. Dorothy Johnstone (1892-1980) is in the front row, fourth from the left.

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