Q. D. Leavis

Deceased Person

1906 – 1981


Who was Q. D. Leavis?

Queenie Dorothy Leavis, née Roth, was an English literary critic and essayist.

Born in Edmonton, England, she wrote about the historical sociology of reading and the development of the English, the European, and the American novel. She paid particular attention to the writings of Jane Austen, George Eliot, Herman Melville, the Brontës, Edith Wharton and Charles Dickens.

Much of her work was published collaboratively with her husband, F. R. Leavis. She contributed to and supported as an editor Scrutiny, an influential journal that sought to promote a stringent and morally serious approach to literary criticism.

Mrs Leavis was noted for scrupulous detail in her research, but also for being sometimes pertinacious in the maintenance of dubious opinions. An example was the experience of her one-time pupil Valerie Grosvenor Myer who came up to Cambridge as a Mature Student and was taught by Mrs Leavis in her final year. In a supervision on Hardy's Jude the Obscure, as Mrs Leavis held forth on the virtues of the 'organic community', her student Mrs Grosvenor Myer, who had been brought up in a remote part of the Forest of Dean, pointed out that such communities could have their drawbacks. "I grew up till the age of 19 in a house without electricity or indoor sanitation," she pointed out. "Nonsense, dear," rejoined Mrs Leavis in not-to-be-contradicted tones; "you're much too young!"


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Dec 7, 1906
Mar 17, 1981

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