Dorothy Whipple's Newstead

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Popular author found inspiration in Notts

The popular novelist Dorothy Whipple was the wife of (Alfred) Henry Whipple, Director of Education in Nottingham.

previous article on this site has looked at her life in Nottingham

At weekends the Whipples often spent time at South Lodge near Newstead Abbey where Dorothy found the environment conducive to writing.  In The Other Day she writes of looking out from her study window "over the field to the grey gables and chimneystacks of Byron's Newstead" and of the "The elderberries in dark clots on the bushes at the edge of the wood opposite..."  "I see the cows have come up from Paradise, the pasture lying to the left between the avenue and [Newstead] abbey wall". 

The setting for Dorothy's 1939 novel, The Priory, is said to have been inspired by Newstead

In Random Commentary (1966), Dorothy describes their weekend cottage as a "little clean empty house with a bathroom, a lilac bush, looking into a wood in front - at the end of a magnificent avenue of trees".  This arrangement is reproduced quite well in The Priory with descriptions of an avenue of elm trees linking the Priory house with Thompson's lodge cottage.


EXTRACTS FROM RANDOM COMMENTARY Compiled from note-books and journals kept from 1925 onwards) London: Michael Joseph, 1966

p.62 "I am now in a fever! There is a little house in the park at Newstead - one of the lodges.  We came across it yesterday - empty.  A little clean empty house with a bathroom, a liac bush, looking into a wood in front - at the end of a magnificent avenue of trees.  I rang up the owner who is the manager of the Midland Bank at Mansfield.  He says he can't let us know if we can have it yet, because it is half promised to someone else.  I shall have to wait......

The house is ours!  We heard this morning.  A letter from the landlord, setting out rates and taxes, upkeep of road, care to be taken of dog and water.......

We went to the house for the first time as tenants on this lovely, sunny, blowy day - and never have I arrived anywhere that gave me so much joy.....  We lit fires and made tea.  there is no electricity or gas; we shall have to cook on a very French-looking stove....

p.64 In spite of black skies, which later opened and poured out torrents of water, we went to our little house at Newstead.  When the rain stopped, I took Roddy for a walk down the almond-scented lane.  The hawthorn trees were bowed almost to the ground with their burden of rain.  I lifted some branches and the thickly studded flowers and buds, waxen, starry, were a marvel.  I heard a creaking sound in the sky, and looked up to see a swan flying over - white in the grey sky, with outstretched neck.  A lovely sight.  I felt as if something marvellous had happened.  as if the whole day was different

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