||I am excessively fond of novels - particularly the works of Miss Austen and Mrs Radcliffe. I confess that I have not yet found the time to read Miss Clarke?s production - magicians are kept pretty busy nowadays. I am informed that it is chiefly about myself. This is no doubt very flattering, but I hope Miss Clarke will forgive me if I am not entirely overwhelmed. I was, after all, the model for the hero of one of Lord Byron?s recent poems.* |
As for Miss Clarke herself she is a lady not in the first flush of youth. She is the eldest daughter of a clergyman in the north of England - a most respectable, silver-haired old person, with a fund of knowledge upon obscure points of Church History and sporting events.
Miss Clarke?s accomplishments are, I am sorry to say, paltry. She does not play any instrument - or sing much. She does not dance. She cannot draw at all. She has only a few words of German. Her Italian is halting and muddled, and entirely incomprehensible to a native of that country. She thinks she would like to embroider, but has never actually tried (so that we must add idleness to the list of her faults). Were she a young woman, one might suppose all this to have been caused by a faulty education, but at her advanced age, the blame, I fear, must be all her own.
I do not think her pretty. She has one admirer - a certain Dr Greenland, a graduate of Oxford University, but, as he is a dwarfish, bandy-legged sort of person, we cannot suppose his standard of beauty to be particularly high. The last time I had the honour of seeing her, she wore pink shoes - a deplorable affectation.
* Manfred by Lord Byron, 1816
© Susanna Clarke 2004