Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Worst Writer in the World

For an aspiring author, you would expect the discovery that one of your direct ancestors, your great great grandmother no less, was a famed writer who courted discussion and controversy, and whose fame spread to the highest literary circles of the time, would be a matter of great rejoice. Surely, with such a famous and great writer as a relation would enable one to, perhaps, leverage some of this new found fame within the publishing world, find a deal on the back of the families past successes, and perhaps even find my own works being celebrated to the same degree?!

Well, my rejoicing quickly turned to reservation, when I found that my great great grandmother is infact Amanda McKittrick Ros, the famed and celebrated Worst Writer in the World. Doused with alliteration, her writing verged on the incomprehensible - for an example, here is one of her most notorious passages, the opening paragraph to the novel, Delina Delany:

"Have you ever visited that portion of Erin's plot that offers its sympathetic soil for the minute survey and scrutinous examination of those in political power, whose decision has wisely been the means before now of converting the stern and prejudiced, and reaching the hand of slight aid to share its strength in augmenting its agricultural richness?"

Fantastic :-) Who writes with such ashamed grandeur in this day? Of course, Amanda McKittrick Ros was not lacking of detractors, hence her notorious monicker of the worst writer in the world. She did, however, have her admirers, in the form of no less luminaries than Mark Twain, CS Lewis, and, as demonstrated in this essay, Aldous Huxley.

With further research, I have discovered a wealth of information, an indeed further 'acclaim'. This includes her topping the list of the world's worst writers in this book by Nick Page , being honoured in her home town of Larne N.Ireland with a plaque, and as recently as 2006 being the subject of a discussion during the Celebrate Literary Belfast Festival.

Having only recently found out about my great great grandmother a month or two ago, I am currently still in the process of trying to rediscover this part of my heritage. She was, by all accounts, an eccentric and single minded woman, who was in no doubt of her own genius and eternal place in the world of literature, calling her critics, 'auctioneering agents of satan'. Given that one of her works, 'Bayonets of Bastard Satan' is selling on Amazon for over $700, she has left a legacy that any writer would be proud of.

So my initial reservation at being related to the worst writer in the world, has, the more I've discovered about this strange woman, grown to interest and joy. I am looking forward to obtaining one of her books and, although certain of not understanding a word of it, enjoying every minute.

So even if my own efforts turn to revealing me as the second worst writer in the world, I will at least be safe in the knowledge that I haven't let the family name down.

1 comment:

  1. See we all have interesting relatives, some where in the closet. Have you tried Google Books to see if any of hers are online? Might be worth a try.