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Friends and Kindred: Memoirs of Louisa Kathleen Haldane
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By Haldane, Louisa Kathleen. Edited by Naomi Mitchison
ISBN 1904999999
SERIES The Naomi Mitchison Library
Paperback  266 pages
 
Published 14 July 2009
UK Price £14.95   Order from amazon.co.uk
US Price $24.95   Order from amazon.com

Louisa 'Maya' Haldane was the widow of physiologist John Scott Haldane, and the mother of J. B. S. Haldane and Naomi Mitchison. In these memoirs she gives a remarkably detailed account of the life of the well-to-do in the second half of the nineteenth century - in Ireland, Scotland and the Con­tinental spas as well as in England - as seen through the eyes of a growing girl and an independently-minded young woman. The story continues up to the time of the First World War, with chapters focusing on particular topics: her education, her husband's early career, the position of servants in town and country, a young lady's wardrobe. We are reminded graphically of the high feeling that ran in the country during the Boer War, Queen Victoria's Jubilees and her funeral, all of which are still vivid in Mrs Haldane's memory. This fascinating material is informed and enlivened by a certain dry wit, nowhere more telling than in personal anecdote: particularly in the account of her father's experi­ences when, during a sea voyage for his health - always precarious through excessive perusal of medical literature - he unexpectedly found himself obliged to take over the duties of British Consul in Samoa. The author's objective irony, together with her remarkably clear and detailed memory for people and places, helps to re-create an ambience and moral climate of a now remote era.

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