Rose, June 1926–
Rose, June 1926–
PERSONAL: Born 1926.
ADDRESSES: Home—Highgate, London, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Carroll & Graf Publishers, 245 W. 17th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10011-5300.
The Perfect Gentleman, Hutchinson (London, England), 1977.
Elizabeth Fry, Macmillan (London, England), 1980, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1981.
For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr. Barnardo's, 120 Years of Caring for Children, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1987.
Modigliani: The Pure Bohemian, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1991.
Marie Stopes and the Sexual Revolution, Faber & Faber (Boston, MA), 1993.
Daemons and Angels: A Life of Jacob Epstein, Carroll & Graf Publishers (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Naomi Games and Catherine Moriarty) Abram Games: His Life and Work, Princeton Architectural Press (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: In her published works, British historian and author June Rose has often concentrated on enigmatic figures who have extraordinary, but unlikely, careers. Her first work, The Perfect Gentleman, is the tale of Dr. James Miranda Barry, who, between 1813 and 1859, served as an army doctor for the British Army. A highly competent surgeon who was the first to perform a Cesarean section birth in Capetown, South Africa, Barry rose to the rank of general. He was also respected for his benevolent treatment of convicts, slaves, and the insane, as well as women. What made Barry unusual was that, upon his death in 1865, a woman who was treating the body claimed that he was, in fact, a woman.
Some critics, such as Times Literary Supplement contributor Pat Barr, felt the work was one of importance. Barr called the book "valuable" because Rose had "discovered some new evidence." However, other reviewers did not believe the author had found enough evidence on which to base her conclusions. Likening the book to "the stuff of Victorian peepshows," Marina Warner wrote in the New Statesman that Barry "cannot be raised to the pantheon of history's heroines on some evidence of physical abnormality." Although Listener writer Jane Ellison felt that Rose's work "proves that the controversy still has life in it," she added that it went "past the boundary of biography into the backwaters of historical romance." Ellison also wrote that the book is the "kind of speculative guesswork that is ruinous to biography."
In 1981 Rose published her biography Elizabeth Fry, the story of the woman who helped initiate a series of reforms in British prisons for women. Fry (1780–1845), who was an active member in the Society of Friends and a Quaker minister, is considered by many to be an early feminist. Critical response to this work was better than that met by Rose's first book. Carol Gold, for instance, wrote in the Historian that it is a "meticulous and complete biography," in which "a human being emerges, complete with human faults." A Choice contributor felt the book provided a "fresh look" at Fry's life, and overall "presents a vivid picture."
In her next work, For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr. Barnardo's, 120 Years of Caring for Children, Rose examines the life and legacy of Thomas Barnardo, the man who began the modest foster home for destitute children that eventually became Dr. Barnardo's Organization, the largest children's charity in Britain. Rose, relying mostly on the extensive Barnardo archives housed at Liverpool University, puts together a picture of the charismatic leader. Calling the work "a fascinating account," Times Literary Supplement critic Gillian Wagner believed that Rose "has succeeded in re-creating the past and relating it to the present." Wagner also felt it was a humanizing effort, asserting that the author "has put flesh on the dry bones of reports and minutes."
In 1991 Rose published Modigliani: The Pure Bohemian, which examines the exceptional career of the Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920). Despite the fact that Modigliani's art was well respected and popular on an international scale, he was as well known for his eccentric lifestyle, which Rose describes as "bohemian." He kept a circle of friends that included the likes of Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, both famous artists of the time, who liked to call him "Modi." Rose follows Modigliani's career, revealing how he made his mark in some of the world's most prestigious art capitals, and how he began as a painter, shifted to sculpting, and finally returned to painting. Ellen Bates, writing in the Library Journal, felt that Rose succeeded in "engaging the reader in a fully lucid and documented account." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the work a "grand portrait," while Times Literary Supplement contributor James Hall described Rose's effort as "meticulous."
Marie Stopes and the Sexual Revolution tells the story of an English woman whom many believe to have been the originator of sexual education for the masses. London Review of Books critic Anne Summers commented that Rose gives "little more than the story of Stopes's romantic, litigious and literary adventures" than had been presented in an earlier biography written by Ruth Hall in 1977. Dea Birkett reported in the New Statesman & Society that the work is an "accessible yet uncritical biography" with a "dispassionate" voice. "Rose isolates and elevates her subject," Birkett concluded, while Gabriele Annan referred to the book in the Spectator as an "enjoyable and unkind biography."
In 1995, Rose published Suzanne Valadon: Mistress of Montemarte, which chronicles the life of the French artist. At seventeen Valadon began modeling for artists, but she also became an artist herself. Her paintings are decidedly unfeminine, characterized by firm lines and an aversion to sentimentality. Donna Seaman, a contributor to Booklist, wrote that Rose gives the art "the respect it deserves." However, at least one reviewer suggested that the book was not a standout achievement. The biography "carefully if unexceptionally takes us to Valadon's death in 1938," observed a contributor to Publishers Weekly.
In another biography about an artist, Rose's Daemons and Angels: A Life of Jacob Epstein examines the influential artist of the title and is based on archives and letters provided by Epstein's children. After being raised in a Jewish ghetto in New York, Epstein moved to England, where he brought the Modern Movement to the British art world, inciting controversy. As society's artistic sensibilities grew, however, so did respect for Epstein. Declan McGonagle observed in the Sunday Business Post that "there is a certain flatness of tone" in the book, but quickly added that "the research has clearly been painstaking." Many critics gave the book favorable reviews. For example, a contributor to Contemporary Review commented: "This biography must now stand as the best source for Epstein's life and work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic Monthly, March, 1999, review of Suzanne Valadon: Mistress of Montemarte, p. 118.
Booklist, February 1, 1999, Donna Seaman, review of Suzanne Valadon, p. 954; July, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of Daemons and Angels: A Life of Jacob Epstein, pp. 1812-1813.
Choice, October, 1981, review of Elizabeth Fry, pp. 297-298.
Contemporary Review, October, 2002, review of Daemons and Angels, pp. 251-252.
Historian, August, 1983, Carol Gold, review of Elizabeth Fry, pp. 560-561.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of Daemons and Angels, pp. 641-642.
Library Journal, November 15, 1991, Ellen Bates, review of Modigliani: The Pure Bohemian, p. 92; August, 2002, Martin R. Kalfatovic, review of Daemons and Angels, p. 89.
Listener, February 17, 1977, Jane Ellison, review of The Perfect Gentleman, pp. 219-220.
London Review of Books, March 25, 1993, Anne Summers, review of Marie Stopes and the Sexual Revolution, pp. 26-27.
New Statesman, February 18, 1977, Marina Warner, review of The Perfect Gentleman, pp. 224-225; July 1, 2002, Nicola Upson, review of Daemons and Angels, p. 52.
New Statesman & Society, September 25, 1992, Dea Birkett, review of Marie Stopes and the Sexual Revolution, p. 53.
Publishers Weekly, September 13, 1991, review of Modigliani, p. 69; January 18, 1999, review of Suzanne Valadon, p. 320.
Spectator, December 12, 1992, Gabrielle Annan, review of Marie Stopes and the Sexual Revolution, p. 41.
Times Literary Supplement, April 22, 1977, Pat Barr, review of The Perfect Gentleman, p. 490; September 2, 1988, Gillian Wagner, review of For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr. Bernardo's, 120 Years of Caring for Children, p. 970; April 5, 1991, James Hall, review of Modigliani, p. 20; November 22, 2002, Richard Humphreys, review of Daemons and Angels, p. 31.
Guardian Online, http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (July 14, 2002), review of Daemons and Angels.
Publishers Group West Web site, http://www.pgw.com/ (December 14, 2005), description of Daemons and Angels.
Sunday Business Post Online, http://www.thepost.ie/ (July 21, 2002), Declan McGonagle, review of Daemons and Angels.