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O. Shakespear

(1863—1938) novelist


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(1863–1938) married (1885) Henry Hope Shakespear (1849–1923). Daughter of a major-general in the Indian army, she was married to a solicitor. She was a first cousin of the poet Lionel Johnson (1867–1902), who introduced her to W. B. Yeats (1865–1939) with whom she had an affair in 1896 (and who later married her brother's stepdaughter). She and Yeats seem to have contemplated eloping together. His poem ‘After Long Silence’ is addressed to her: ‘Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young / We loved each other and were ignorant.’ In 1909 she met Ezra Pound (1885–1972) and, after a protracted engagement and some opposition from the Shakespears (possibly because of Olivia's jealousy), her only child, Dorothy, (1886–1973) married him in 1914. Her own fiction is of the marriage problem class. The most valuable source of information on her career is John Harwood's (1989) study of her relationship with Yeats, who suggests that her fiction was influenced by that of her friend ‘John Oliver Hobbes’. Her last novel, Uncle Hilary (1910), is generally regarded as her best.

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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