Literary critic and author. Lorna Sage was the eldest child of Valma and Eric Stockton and was born at Hanmer, North Wales. She was educated at the village school, then at the Girls' High School in Whitchurch, Shropshire, the nearest town some six miles away. Her childhood in the late 1940's and early 1950's is recalled in her last book, Bad blood (2000), an autobiography. She caused a scandal by becoming pregnant when she was 16 but was able to continue her education and won a scholarship to read English at Durham University. The university apparently had to change its admission rules especially. Lorna went on to receive an MA from Birmingham University for a thesis on seventeenth century poetry. All of her career was spent at the University of East Anglia, and was Professor of English Literature from 1994. She married Victor Sage while still in her teens and their daughter, Sharon, was born in 1959. They were later divorced and Lorna married again in 1979. She died in January 2001, having suffered from emphysema for many years.
Lorna Sage will be remembered for her extensive literary journalism, but especially for contribution to the consideration of women's writing. She edited The Cambridge guide to women's writing in English (1999) which has become a standard work. In her preface she said:-
"In concentrating on women's writing...you stress the extent and pace of change, for the scale of women's access to literary life has reflected and accelerated democratic, diasporic pressures in the modern world"
Other important works include studies of the novelists Christina Stead, Doris Lessing and Angela Carter, as well as numerous other editorial roles and the re-appraisal of authors such as Thomas Love Peacock, John Milton and Thomas Hardy. Her book reviews regularly appeared in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Times Book Review.
Bad blood won the Whitbread Biography Award in January 2001 and Lorna Sage died just a week after hearing of her success. The book missed out on receiving the accolade of Whitbread Book of the Year by the narrowest of margins at the award ceremony on 23 January 2001. The Times review (27 September 2000) praised the work for its "spellbinding, jawdropping frankness" and longed for the "emergence of the fiction writer behind the literary critic". This work is a fitting finale to a distinguished literary career.
Bad blood (2000)
The Cambridge guide to women's writing in English (1999)
Flesh and the mirror; Essays on the art of Angela Carter (1994)
Women in the house of fiction (1992)
Page created 9 February 2001 and last
updated 28 October 2002
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