28 / CHRONICLESnAN ELEGY TO A WRITER by Mildred HardingnPearl Craigie, the long forgotten novelist and playwrightn”John Oliver Hobbes,” who died in 1906, is due fornresurrection.nShe has haunted me for over 40 years. It was through mynstudy of the Anglo-Irish novelist George Moore in the 1940’sn(particularly through Joseph Hone’s biography of him), thatnMrs. Craigie first came into my ken, piqued my curiosity, andnwon my sympathy. Late in 1893 the 41-year-old author of AnMummer’s Wife (1884) and Confessions of a Young Mann(1888) met and fell in love with 25-year-old Pearl Craigie,nalready a successful writer. Born in America, daughter of anwealthy American patent-medicine manufacturer who settlednin England immediately after her birth. Pearl Craigie wasnbeautiful, clever, fashionable, and musical, a woman of strictnprinciples, socially ambitious, separated from her husband, andna recent convert from her family’s Nonconformism to RomannCatholicism.nIn the winter of 1893-94, Moore and Mrs. Craigie spentnmuch time together and collaborated on a play. The Fool’snHour (Act I appeared in the first issue of The Yellow Book,nApril 1894). For the only time in his life, Moore was ready tonbreak his resolution never to marry. Then “suddenly andnwithout a cause” Mrs. Craigie told him she did not wish to seenhim again. Bitterly hurt, he maligned her everywhere, sayingnthat she had rejected him in the hope of marrying “anhandsome worldling” (Lord Curzon), and he portrayed hernruthlessly in the heartless heroine of “Mildred Lawson”n{Celibates, 1895). After a lukewarm reconciliation (at herninsistence, said Moore, who was now in love with someonenelse), they again collaborated on a play. Journeys End innLovers’ Meeting, which was performed in June 1895. Againnthey quarreled. In 1904, Moore visited Mrs. Craigie in hernfamily’s mansion in the Isle of Wight; once more theyncollaborated on a play. The Coming of Gabrielle. “[In] thenmorning,” Moore wrote to a friend, “she walks in the gardennand on the terrace in the most delicious Watteau costumes,nrose coloured silks and flowers in her hat.” He spoke of settlingnMildred Harding writes from Florida.nnnin the Isle of Wight. But once more they quarreled. “I wasnwalking in the Green Park,” Moore later reported, “and I sawnher in front of me. I was blind with rage and I ran up behindnher and kicked her” — a scene which he elaborated in “Luinet Elles” in the 1921 edition of Memoirs of My DeadnLife. Thanks to Moore’s malicious gossip, their turbulentnrelationship — which was important grist to his literary milln(especially in Evelyn Innes [1898] and Sister Teresa [1901]) —nwas the talk of Mayfair and of literary London from the time ofntheir meeting until and even after Mrs. Craigie’s death.nWhat a fascinating woman! I thought. But the 1940’s, 50’s,nand half the 60’s brought me no time for pursuing hernacquaintance. At last, late in November 1966, in a little hotelnin London (where I had just alighted for a brief pre-Christmasnholiday), Mrs. Craigie suddenly demanded my attention. Fromna copy of The Times that lay open on a table, the final words ofnan advertisement by Sotheby’s sprang at me like an electricnshock: “manuscripts and letters of John Oliver Hobbes.”nPostponing my return to the States until the last possiblenpre-Christmas flight, I buried myself in the Reading Room ofnthe British Museum.nThere, as I skimmed John Morgan Richards’ (her father’s)nillustrated, adulatory Life of John Oliver Hobbes: Told in HernCorrespondence With Numerous Friends (London, 1911) andnseveral articles about her (though not yet any of her ownnworks). Pearl Mary Teresa Craigie was becoming more andnmore intriguing. The external facts of her life — always againstna background of wealth and culture — unfolded like a lavishncinematic period piece in two parts. The first half wasncharmingly romantic: the pretty girl’s precocious, pamperednchildhood and adolescence in London and, in summers fromn1872, in the Isle of Wight; her governesses, private schools,nand distinguished patrons; her musical studies in Paris; hernpresentation at court; her fairy-tale marriage, at 19, to ReginaldnWalpole Craigie, a handsome man-about-town; their hecticnsocial life, and, in 1890, the birth of a son. Into the morensomber second half, the heroine seemed to be crowding severalnlives: separation from her husband (1891); acceptance into thenRoman Catholic Church (1892); a squalid divorce (1895) withncomplete custody of the child (according to The Times report,nan “exceedingly filthy” case, “most of its details . . . unfit fornpublication in a newspaper”); and, throughout these 16 years,nconstant scholarly study; attendance at galleries, plays, eoncerts,nand operas; occasional public performance as pianist;nreligious retreats; travel in Europe, the United States, and thenNear East; social stardom in Mayfair and country houses, evennin India at the Durbar as guest of the Viceroy (1902-03);ncontinual entertaining; friendship and correspondence with anhost of brilliant men (e.g., Gosse, Symons, Yeats, Hardy,nuniversity professors, painters, musicians, actors, politicians,nProtestant and Catholic churchmen); rumored proposals fromnseveral distinguished men (e.g.. Lord Asquith, Balfour, Curzon);npublic lectures on literature, including a lecture tour innthe United States; through it all, frequent exhaustion andnincreasingly delicate health — and somehow, also from 1891, ansteady torrent of writings as John Oliver Hobbes (tales, novels,nplays, journalistic and scholarly essays). Then, at 38, suddenndeath, in her bed — apparently from heart failure.n