Poems Without Frontiers

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Fredegond Cecily Shove (née Maitland) 1889-1949

Fredegond was born to a family where her father was a legal historian, and her mother sister in law to Ralph Vaughan Williams who set some of her works to music. She attended Newnham College from 1910 to 1913 where she studied English and during that period also spent time in London with the Vaughan Williams. In 1915 she married the economist, Gerald Shove, who as cousin to Virginia Woolf, brought contact to the Bloomsbury Group.

She spent the years 1916-1917 in the Bailiff's Cottage at Garsington Manor where her husband served on the poultry farm as a conscientious objector. Juliette Huxley, described her life there as Spartan but their employer described her as "an enchanting creature, very sensitive, delicate and highly strung, with a fantastic imagination". She was, however, subject to occasional bouts of mental anxiety.

Her first poetry collection, Dreams and Journeys, was published in 1918 some poems in which, together with a number of later poems, were included in several post war anthologies. Her work contained references to religious themes that were a precursor to her joining the Catholic Church in 1922. Her second collection, Daybreak, appeared in that year to less acclaim but she, nonetheless, experienced a decade of popularity and prosperity. In 1931, she published a study of Christina Rossetti but she continued to write poetry copiously throughout her life, publishing selections from time to time.

She was widowed in 1947 and died in 1949. Her sister, Ermengard, as literary executor, published a memoir in 1952 (or 1954) and later commented that Fredegond in her early teens had confided to her that her experiences were of 'scenes, colours and sounds always, rather than events or actions'.

Fredegond was well regarded by the critics although some, with the license of ink, expressed aspersions on her works when compared with some contemporaries.