A Woman to Know: Clemence Housman

The last hour of midnight had lost half its quarters, and the stars went lifting up the great minutes. — Clemence

(One of Clemence's book plates that illustrated "The Werewolf," via University of Cambridge)

Yes, yes, she's related to famous poet A.E. Housman. But Clemence earned her own fame, too: throughout the early 1900s, she wrote not-so-Victorian novels and illustrated them with her own intricate engravings. Her style was a little odd for the times: her most famous book, "The Werewolf," is a bloody, erotic horror starring a lady werewolf. Check out this section, where the heroine attacks an intruder:

Like lightning she snatched her axe, and struck him on the neck — deep — once — twice — his life-blood gushed out, staining her feet. The stars touched midnight.

Sooo not Victorian, and sooo not her brother's style, either.

This borderline-scandalous treatment of female characters would become a hallmark of Clemence's artistic work. During the heyday of the women's suffrage movement, she would dedicate volume after volume of her illustrated work to the suffragette's cause. She exercised her own form of protest — until women were granted the right to vote, Clemence refused to pay taxes.

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~ Thank you to Tess Goodman for recommending Clemence as a woman to know! I definitely spent way too much time reading quotes from The Werewolf. Thanks, Tess. ~

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