Author(s): Caroline Blackwood
Great Granny Webster is Caroline Blackwood's masterpiece. Heiress to the Guinness fortune, Blackwood was celebrated as a great beauty and dazzling raconteur long before she made her name as a strikingly original writer. This macabre, mordantly funny, partly auto-biographical novel reveals the gothic craziness behind the scenes in the great houses of the aristocracy, as witnessed through the unsparing eyes of an orphaned teenage girl. Great Granny Webster herself is a fabulous monster, the chilliest of matriarchs, presiding with steely self-regard over a landscape of ruined lives.
Caroline Blackwood (1931-1996) was born into a rich Anglo-Irish aristocratic family. She rebelled against her background at an early age and led a hectic and bohemian life, which included marriages to the painter Lucian Freud, the pianist and composer Israel Citkowitz, and the poet Robert Lowell. In the 1970s Blackwood began to write. Among her books are several novels, including Great Granny Webster and Corrigan (both available as NYRB Classics); On the Perimeter, an account of the women's anti-nuclear protest at Greenham Common; and The Last of the Duchess, about the old age of the Duchess of Windsor. Honor Moore's collections of poems are Red Shoes, Darling, and Memoir. She edited Amy Lowell: Selected Poems for the Library of America and is author of The White Blackbird, a life of her grandmother, the painter Margarett Sargent.