Elizabeth Madox Roberts’ book to go back in print

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By Jesse Osbourne


The late Elizabeth Madox Roberts will have one of her out-of-print books published again at the end of October.

“The Great Meadow,” a book by the internationally-known writer from Springfield, will be back in publication on Oct. 31.
The re-publication came way of a contest in London - the United Kingdom, not Kentucky.
Hesperus Press held a competition to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Members of the public nominated one out-of-print book they would like to see in print.
Michael Wynne, a Dublin-based writer, nominated “The Great Meadow.” The new edition of the novel will come with a 500-word introduction by Wynne.
“First published in 1930 and shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, ‘The Great Meadow’ is a historical novel set in the early days of Kentucky settlement,” according to a press release from Hesperus Press.
“I was just elated to see it,” Nell Haydon, local Roberts’ enthusiast and historian, said. “It’s great news because Elizabeth Madox Roberts’ work has not been published for many years other than what the society has been putting together in the last few years. For the last 10 years, the EMR Society has been promoting her work.”
Haydon said that Roberts was written about on several occasions in The New York Times and is still very well-known and well-loved in Europe.
“Her work is known primarily because of her sense of place,” Haydon said. “When ‘The Time of Man’ came out, it has Kentucky jargon. It has Kentucky geography. And she can describe those things with immense depth.”
Haydon said that Roberts used to own a home on Walnut Street. Beside it was a lot with overgrown weeds.
Neighbors complained, as they often do about overgrown weeds, but the weeds remained.
In the middle of those weeds was a garden, Haydon said, where Elizabeth Madox Roberts would do most of her writing. She couldn’t be seen in the garden inside the overgrown weeds.
One of Roberts’ biggest fans, Haydon said, is Kentucky author Wendell Berry.
Springfield, for the last 15 years, has been a hotbed for the Elizabeth Madox Roberts Society.
“They come to St. Catharine’s and have their annual conference every April,” Haydon said. “It’s the same day that they have the Kentucky Writer’s Day over at Penn’s Store (in Marion County) because they participate in that, also.”
Last year, she said, there were scholars from 14 different states and one scholar from France. The year before, a scholar came from Turkey.
Also in the works is a play about Roberts’ life. Plans are in the making for a performance by the Central Kentucky Community Theatre.
The lady from Springfield with international reach is slowly getting back into the literary conversation, Haydon said.
“I know the society has been working to try to get her novels back in print for many years,” Haydon said. “The society has now gotten her talked about at these literary conferences that they have in academia. I know that she’s being talked about a lot more at those conferences.”
Haydon said the book could likely be found online.