80. Amanda McKittrick Ros
From: The Book's the Thing (http://blogs.nsls.info/)
World's Worst Writer? or, the Tremendous Trials and Tribulations of the Brave Bevy at Belfast
Ever heard of the romance writer Amanda McKittrick Ros? Most likely not, though she was an author read by such notables as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain, among others. So she must have been a worthy writer, right? Well, not exactly. In actuality, they read her works as part of a contest to see who could read the longest without bursting into laughter. Not exactly the most prestigious distinction, but it IS a distinction.
Can't argue with that, now, can you?
Her other distinction was her rampant usage of alliteration. That and her incredibly melodramatic language made Twain et. al. read her work for the sheer entertainment value only the truly bad can offer. Never mind Bulwer-Lytton's "It was a dark and stormy night..." McKittrick Ros blew the man completely out of the water. She showed HIM who's truly bad.
Amanda McKittrick Ros (1860-1939) was an Irish writer who fancied herself an aristocrat. She dropped the ending "s" in her last name in a vain attempt to align herself with Danish nobility, in an effort to claim a family line that wasn't anywhere near hers. She was, according to reports, a terrible snob who most likely had no idea what she was writing was anything other than profoundly literary. Which, of course, makes it all the more funny.
Here's an example of the sort of prose she wrote:
"The living sometimes learn the touchy tricks of the traitor, the tardy and the tempted; the dead have evaded the flighty earthy future, and form to swell the retinue of retired rights, the righteous school of the invisible and the rebellious roar of the raging nothing."
Raging nothing indeed, Amanda. This is too much fun! One more quote from the literary behemoth that is Irene Iddesleigh. It is a novel of a doomed marriage and here poor John tirades against Irene for her aloofness in their relationship:
"Irene, if I may use such familiarity, I have summoned you hither, it may be to undergo a stricter examination than your present condition probably permits; but knowing, as you should, my life must be miserable under this growing cloud of unfathomed dislike, I became resolved to end, if within my power, such contentious and unlady-like conduct as that practised by you towards me of late. It is now six months - yea, weary months - since I shielded you from open penury and insult, which were bound to follow you, as well as your much-loved protectors, who sheltered you from the pangs of penniless orphanage; and during these six months, which naturally should have been the pet period of nuptial harmony, it has proved the hideous period of howling dislike!”
It goes on for several more paragraphs before ending with:
“Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!"
If any of the above should leave you feeling inclined to read any of her works, I should warn you they're out of print and prices start at around $ 300. That's the price you pay for kitsch, I guess.
A bibliography of the works of Amanda McKittrick Ros:
Irene Iddesleigh (novel, 1897)
Delina Delaney (novel, 1898)
Poems of Puncture (poetry, 1912)
Fumes of Formation (poetry, 1933)
Helen Huddleston (posthumous novel)
Jack Loudan (1954) O Rare Amanda!: The Life of Amanda McKittrick Ros (London: Chatto & Windus 1954)
Thine in Storm and Calm - An Amanda McKittrick Ros Reader, edited by Frank Ormsby(The Blackstaff Press, 1988.)