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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Rebecca West's lasting legacy


“I write books to find out about things.” – Rebecca West 
 
Cicely Isabel Fairfield, born on this date in 1892, grew up in a home full of intellectual stimulation, political debate, lively company, books and music and turned into world-renowned author and reporter Rebecca West along the way.  By the time she was 50 she was a leading spokesperson for feminism and feminist causes, and by the time of her death in 1983 she had published hundreds if not thousands of stimulating works in a wide range of genres.   Along the way she also was called by Time Magazine"indisputably the world's number one woman writer,” and by U.S. President Harry S. Truman “the world’s best reporter.”

West was the daughter of a political reporter who often involved himself in controversial issues, shaping her own ideas about how to report on politics and social justice, and in novels such as The Birds Fall Down, set in pre-revolution Russia. 
In addition to her dozens of books, West also was                       
feted for her essays and as a leading reviewer and travel writer for many of the world’s top newspapers and magazines.

Among her powerful (and many) best-selling books were Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, on the history and culture of Yugoslavia; A Train of Powder – based on her magazine coverage of the Nuremberg trials; and the "Aubrey trilogy" of autobiographical novels, The Fountain Overflows, This Real Night, and Cousin Rosamund.   And she championed other writers, particularly those who were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.

“God forbid that any book should be banned,” she wrote.  “The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.”

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