Barbara Kaye (2) [1908–1998]

This page covers the author of Second Impression: Rural Life with a Rare Bookman.

For other authors named Barbara Kaye, see the disambiguation page.

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Barbara Kaye was the pen name of Barbara Kenrick Gowing, born in Saxmundham, Suffolk, England, the daughter of a writer. She became a journalist. In 1937, she married Percy Muir, then manager of the publishing and bookselling firm Elkin Mathews, with whom she had two children. They shared a house in north London with S.S. Koteliansky, friend of Katherine Mansfield and D.H. Lawrence. She helped her husband move the firm to the Hertfordshire countryside after Ian Fleming, one of its directors, warned that World War II was imminent. Settling down in an old house at Takeley, near Bishop's Stortford, she found time to write and to start a canteen for war evacuees. She produced a total of 13 novels, including Blackmarket Green (1950), Festival at Froke (1951), and Champion's Mead (1951). She sat on the district council, presided over the local Women's Institute, and organized entertainments for the village, among her other local projects. After the war, she helped her husband and others found the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. After her husband's death in 1979, Barbara was the sole remaining member of the Elkin Mathews staff, but kept the firm going, eventually joined by her son David in 1987. She went on writing, publishing a continuation of her memoir Minding My Own Business (1956), entitled The Company We Kept (1986), and her best-known volume, Second Impression: Rural Life with a Rare Bookman (1995).


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