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Thread: Clara Collet

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Clara Collet

    I am reading a biography of Clara Collet, who I read about first in a biography of George Gissing. She was a very good friend to him and his family. She sounds like an extraordinary woman in her own right, although mostly forgotten. I have only read two chapters, but I gather she became the first woman to enter the civil service in the United Kingdom. She advised eminent politicians, such as David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, on women's work primarily. It was after reading The Odd Women by George Gissing that she sought him out.

    She grew up knowing Karl Marx and his family, because she was friends with his daughter, Eleanor. In fact Karl Marx helped her with her German homework once. Apparently her German teacher set her an assignment and she managed to catch onto the name Scipio Africanus. She asked Karl Marx about it, as you do, who advised her to look up the Punic Wars, of which he had a copy.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Clara Collet was a very good friend to George Gissing. She offered to be financially responsible for his sons if he died. She was not related to them and she was unmarried herself, so that was extremely generous. She tried to defend his reputation after Gissing died. She seems to have been his number 1 fan during his lifetime.

    What surprised me a bit was that she did not initially like The Odd Women, which was about unmarried, middle-class but poor women trying to find means of supporting themselves, other than childcare, teaching, or lady's companion. Since Clara Collet had a very great interest in this subject, I would have thought she would have loved the book, but she did not like Rhoda Nunn, who was too much of a man-hater for her. Interesting.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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