An Invitation to Margery Sharp’s Birthday Party

A little while ago, at my old home on the internet, we threw a party for Margery Sharp’s ‘110th birthday.’

Sarah said:

“The blurb on my old copy says this is ‘a rich, amusing and lovable book.’ It’s now the twenty-first century but the copywriter was absolutely correct. Hurray for Julia Packett, hurray for The Nutmeg Tree and Happy Birthday Margery Sharp.

Anbolyn read ‘Britannia Mews’ and said:

“I was constantly surprised by this novel. The characters were very unpredictable and the many unexpected turnings of the plot made this a fresh and exciting reading experience. Sharp’s writing is straight forward and fantastically descriptive and the dialogue is frank and vigorous. I always love multi-generational stories and this one is so satisfying. I turned the last page sad to leave the family behind.”

Ali Said:

“I am so glad that I chose The Foolish Gentlewoman for Margery Sharp day; I loved every bit of it. It is a novel of great insight, humour and warmth; it is a truly delightful read.”

Gabi read Cluny Brown and said:

“Exactly the right book for me to be reading right now, when I need cheering up. Wrtten in 1944, when the war had been dragging on for 5 years, it must have provided comfort, humor and solace to a war weary Britain.”

Audrey read Lise Lillywhite and said:

“Part of me wants to share lots of wonderful bits about the characters {you just have to love a book that has a telling scene involving a twinset, don’t you?}, but I’d rather hope that you have a chance to read this for yourself. “

And I could go on, but the most important thing to say that we agreed that it would be lovely to do it again.

So this is your invitation to Margery Sharp’s 111th birthday party on 25th January 2016.

There’s no need to RSVP – though it would be lovely to know if you might come –  all you need to do is to read a Margery Sharp book between now and then, and post about it on the day!

I know that her books for children are much loved , but I want to focus on her writing for grown-ups. Because I know that there are others out there who love her books, because I know there are others don’t know her and who would love her too, and because all but one of her books are out of print and need to be reissued, they really do.

(Don’t be put off by that fact; many of them are gettable, but I’ll come back to that in a while.)

I might try to explain what makes Margery so special, but I’m not going to, because there is somebody else who loves her who has done that so much better than I ever could. That’s why I’m going to direct you to The Margery Sharp Blog. It was – and is – so clearly a labour of love for its creator, who you may know through her writing blog, Genusrosa.

Of course I can’t promise that you’ll love Margery Sharp’s writing, but if you think that you might you really should try her, because those of us who love her really, really love her.

Now, to practicalities.

We have a badge:

We have a bibliography

Rhododendron Pie (1930)
Fanfare for Tin Trumpets (1932)
The Nymph and The Nobleman (1932)
The Flowering Thorn (1933)
Sophy Cassmajor (1934)
Four Gardens (1935)
The Nutmeg Tree (1937)
Harlequin House (1939)
The Stone of Chastity (1940)
The Tigress On The Hearth (1941)
Cluny Brown (1944)
Britannia Mews (1946)
The Foolish Gentlewoman (1948)
Lise Lillywhite (1951)
The Gipsy in the Parlour (1954)
The Eye of Love (1957)
Something Light (1960)
Martha in Paris (sequel to The Eye of Love) (1962)
Martha, Eric and George (sequel to Martha in Paris) (1964)
The Sun in Scorpio (19650
In Pious Memory (1967)
Rosa (1969)
The Innocents (1972)
The Lost Chapel Picnic and Other Stories (1973)
The Faithful Servants (1975)
Summer Visits (1977)

The early books were printed in small quantities, and are very nearly impossible to find, but The Nutmeg Tree became a film and then a play and from then on her books were printed in larger quantities.

‘The Eye of Love’ is in print, and I’ve picked up used copies ‘The Stone of Chastity’, ‘Cluny Brown’, ‘Britannia Mews’, ‘Lise Lillywhite’, ‘Something Light’ and ‘Four Gardens’ very cheaply, so there are books out there to be found.

It’s also worth checking your library catalogue, because I’ve found other titles in my library’s reserve stock.

Open Library has a nice selection of titles that you can borrow for a fortnight to read online or on a compatible device.

And I have a spare hardback copy of ‘Cluny Brown’ to give away sometime between now and the big.

I do hope that you will find a book and be part of Margery’s birthday party.

Do tell me, and please ask is you have any questions at all.

50 thoughts on “An Invitation to Margery Sharp’s Birthday Party

  1. I am in! I so loved The Foolish Gentlewoman. I just need to source another book. I have dropped hints of some out of print authors to my family for Christmas ideas. They are quite happy to scour abebooks for old books they know I’ll like. Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d love to join too.
    Would really like to read Cluny Brown but they seem very difficult to get hold of.
    Great post Jane!


    1. There are copies out there, but I’ve found that you have to be vigilant if you want a nice copy at a sensible price, I’ve only read the first few chapters of Cluny Brown, but I have to say that it looks very, very promising.


  3. I shall do my very best to join in, Jane – I have “The Nutmeg Tree” and “Eye of Love” somewhere! 🙂


  4. How lovely! I recently read the Eye of Love, Martha in Paris and Martha, Eric and George trilogy and reviewed them on my blog. I will try to participate as I enjoy Sharp’s sense of humour!


          1. I may save the third review of Martha, Eric and George for Sharp’s birthday celebration in January. Really enjoyed this quirky trilogy.


  5. Oh hooray, I can join in this time! And thank you for the list of books. I was lucky enough to find a copy of Britannia Mews on-line today.


  6. Odd that Persephone have not published her work??
    The only one i really like is FOUR GARDENS–pity that is an expensive one to buy.


    1. She’s an author who has been mentioned to Persephone in the past, but Nicola Beauman has explained that she doesn’t particularly like her style and she only publishes books she really loves. A pity, but maybe one of the imprints that reissues a range of books by an author would be a better home for Margery Sharp.


  7. I “like” some of Sharp’s work–The Foolish Gentlewoman and Britannia Mews.And love “Four Gardens’–a classic.
    But i cannot explain to myself why i disliked “The Eye of Love” ,Nutmeg Tree” and “Cluny Brown”.
    Was it because Margery had success in Hollywood and tended to be too sentimental?I read online she had a lot of male protagonists while i prefer female?I cannot tie up that view with my readings of her.(i have forgotten some of her books)

    I think some of her books remind me of a Doris Day 1950s film.
    So basically despite my mixed feelings i feel she should be republished as everyone else has been(!)


    1. I hope you find something because I’d love to read your thoughts about her writing. Her books aren’t around in big numbers, and some of them are impossible to find and madly priced when copies appear online, but I’ve built up a collection over the years and more people than I expected were able to find out of print titles for last year’s party.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I see FURROWED MIDDLEBROW has just blogged about Sharp as well.
    I doubt many of her books are to be found cheaply in charity shops except for THE FOOLISH GENTLEWOMAN which is everywhere.


    1. I’ve picked up a few very reasaonably priced in charity shops and secondhand bookshops. Many don’t realise that old hardbacks by authors they haven’t heard of are priced much higher elsewhere. And I suspect that many of the highly priced books don’t move very quickly and shop based sellers price things to move reasonably quickly.

      Of course there aren’t as many copies out there as there are for some authors, but I’m sure that they are there for the vigilant.


      1. I found THE LOST CHAPEL PICNIC(Sharp short stories)a month ago for £2 in a National Trust bookshop.I had read it before years ago.It was not a book i was “cockahoop” to find but a welcome find nevertheless.Sorry to sound luke warm.


        1. I’d call that an excellent find but I understand that not everyone is going to love the same books. We’re all different, we’ve had different lives and experiences so it would be very odd to find two people whose tastes coincided perfectly.


  9. You will have to send Briar round to give me a good talking to because I must confess I’ve never heard of Margery Sharp. However, if I can find any of her works locally then I may well join in too.


    1. She’s almost entirely out of print and she was a quite private person in her lifetime so you’re one of a great many who haven’t encountered her. I doubt Briar would be cross because she doesn’t really approve of too much time spent reading when we could be going our or playing with her.


  10. I would like to be in as, in another, easier life, I read Britannia Mews and enjoyed it. However, I will not be able to come: no money to buy any book, so no Margery Sharp. Unless… my name is drawn for the spare “Cluny Brown” I always wanted to buy and read…


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