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This volume gathers together some of the real and the imagined lives of Willa Muir, one of the finest and fiercest intellectuals of her generation. Her writing is rich with paradox - although obsessively Scottish in subject and style, she resented Scotland; although a trenchant champion of feminism, she voluntarily sacrificed her identity to that of the 'poet's wife'; and although she was a committed reformer, she never aligned herself with any political or ideological movement. These passionate dichotomies are intertwined in her writing, giving a particular power to her fiction and n-fiction alike. This collection is the first publication to offer a sense of the diversity of Willa Muir's oeuvre. It makes possible the re-evaluation of her work and assures her of a deserved place in the Scottish literary can.
Willa Anderson (1890-1970) studied classics at the University of St Andrews where she took a first class honours degree in 1910. She studied Educational Psychology and moved to London to become a lecturer and Vice-Principal of Gypsy Hill Training College for teachers. She met Edwin Muir during a visit to Glasgow in September 1918 and they married within a year. Working as a costing clerk for a Renfew shipbuilding firm at the time, Muir was making a reputation by writing criticism for The New Age, but was deeply unhappy with his life and the Glasgow environment. Spurred by his wife's confidence (he later said that meeting her was 'the most fortunate event in my life'), Muir moved south in 1919 to begin his career as a full-time writer, and later, again with Willa's unfailing encouragement, as a poet. The couple travelled about Europe in the early twenties, living in Prague, Germany, Italy, and Austria. They collaborated in the translation of modern writers such as Lion Feuchtwanger, Franz Kafka and Hermann Broch. Willa Muir's only two novels were Imagined Corners (1931), followed by Mrs Ritchie in 1933. Mrs Grundy in Scotland (1936) is a cultural essay, while Living with Ballads (1965) offers an extended study of oral poetry from children's singing games to the great Scottish ballads. Belonging (1968) is a memoir of her years with Edwin Muir from their first encounter until his death in 1959.