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Tinted and tainted love: the sculptural body in Olive Custance's poetry

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Olive Custance (1874–1944) is frequently mentioned in passing in critical works on late nineteenth-century poetry. Born to a distinguished family, she lived her early life at the family estate at Weston Longville near Norwich, and later, in London, moved in both aristocratic and artistic circles. In the early 1890s she concentrated her talents on poetry, becoming a regular contributor to the Yellow Book and gaining recognition as one of the characteristic poets of the fin de siècle. Published collections of her works include Opals (1897), Rainbows (1902), The Blue Bird (1905), and The Inn of Dreams (1911). Brocard Sewell, in his brief study of Olive Custance, names her as one of the ‘three principal women poets’ of the period alongside Dollie Radford and Alice Meynell. The status afforded by such female company is consolidated by her standing among male contemporaries such as Ernest Dowson, Theodore Wratislaw, Arthur Symons, and Richard Le Gallienne. Her poems appeared with those of Dowson and Wratislaw in the third volume of the Yellow Book, and Holbrook Jackson, in his review of the 1890s, makes the prophetic judgement that she, together with Symons, Le Gallienne, and Wratislaw, though ‘giving expression to moods more attuned to the end-of-the-century emotions [. . .] will [nevertheless] command a select group of admirers in most periods’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-176
Number of pages16
JournalThe Yearbook of English Studies
Volume37
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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