The Wooden Doctor by Margiad Evans

Asbee, Sue ed. (2005). The Wooden Doctor by Margiad Evans. Honno Classics. Aberystwyth: Honno.



Introduction, by Sue Asbee to The Wooden Doctor by Margiad Evans.

The Wooden Doctor was published in March 1933 to enthusiastic reviews. The Daily Herald thought it was ‘an astonishing story’; James Agate in The Daily Express said ‘Heavens! What characters and what a plot!...This young woman can write’, while Compton Macenzie’s Daily Mail review simply urged people to ‘[r]ead “The Wooden Doctor”. It is really good’. None of the reviewers dwelt on the vivid and compelling descriptions of pain that Arabella, the central character, endures, nor the dark hints that these are related to her sexuality and her love for her doctor, but it is the power of such descriptions and the psychology behind them that make the novel so fascinating. In spite of the reviews, sales never quite lived up to the promise of that initial reception. The Wooden Doctor was neglected, effectively becoming a lost classic, perhaps partly because of the ‘uncompromising harshness’ noted by the Times Literary Supplement reviewer, and an unwillingness to delve too far into or be seduced by Arabella’s tormented mind.

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