Lady Angela Forbes

(1876—1950) wartime catering organizer

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(1876–1950) married (1896) James Stewart Forbes (1872–1957) (divorced 1906) and resumed her maiden name by deed poll (1929). Elinor Glyn claimed to have based the heroine of The Visits of Elizabeth (1900) on Lady Angela, whose photograph appears facing the title-page. Much the youngest of her upperclass family, she married an army officer and had two daughters, but the marriage broke down. ‘Quite frankly, I am afraid it was a commercial rather than a literary instinct which prompted me to first take up my pen,’ she wrote in her memoirs (1922). The Broken Commandment (1910) was ‘banned by the libraries’ and the reviewer in the Times called it ‘a compound fracture of the seventh commandment’. Its heroine, Lady Peggy Dennison, finds sex with her husband John repellent, so he becomes a spendthrift. Edgerton, a businessman, gives John a job and then forces Peggy to be his mistress. This is a success: Peggy learns about current affairs, John about business life. Then Peggy is sexually awakened by a man unhappily married to a rich woman, who finds out and blackmails him into returning to her. John consoles the bereft and pregnant Peggy. Self-consciously advanced about sex and marriage, the novel, though implausible, is written with some verve. Forbes was a member of the ‘Souls’ circle and published later novels, two volumes of pot-boiling memoirs (1922, 1934) and non-fiction such as How to Dress (1926). Her sister Millicent, Duchess of Sutherland (1867–1955), a close friend of ‘Anthony Hope’, published a novel (1899) about socialist agitators during a strike, and volumes of short stories in 1902 and 1925. Their brother, the 5th Earl of Rosslyn (1869–1939), went on the stage, playing the first Arthur Gower in Trelawny of the Wells (1898); he was grandfather of the playwright Nell Dunn (b. 1936).

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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