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Margaret Ethel Storm Jameson (8 January 1891 – 30 September 1986) was an English journalist and author, known for her novels and reviews. She was an intimate friend of Vera Brittain. British Women Writers 1914-1945: Professional Work and Friendship is primarily concerned with the lives and writings of Stella Benson, Vera Brittain, Winifred Holtby, Storm Jameson, Naomi Mitchison (who were all at some point connected to Time and Tide) and of Lady Rhondda, the journal's founder and editor from 1926. Storm Jameson was a close friend of Vera Brittain, Winifred Holtby, Rose Macaulay and Naomi Mitchison.
Jameson was born in Whitby, Yorkshire, she briefly attended school at the Scarborough Municipal, before studying at the University of Leeds. She moved to London, where she earned a Masters of Arts degree from King's College London in 1914, and then went on to teach before becoming a full-time writer. She married the author Guy Chapman, but continued to be published under her maiden name, Storm Jameson. Though she predominantly used her own name, she also published three novels pseudonymously in 1937–38. The first two used the name James Hill and the third one was published under the name William Lamb.
Jameson was a prominent president of the British branch of the International PEN association, from 1939, and active in helping refugee writers. Additionally, she was a founding member of the Peace Pledge Union. Jameson was a socialist in the 1930s; although the outbreak of the Second World War caused her to recant her pacifism and later adopt anti-Communist views. However, she remained a supporter of the Labour Party. In addition to her novels, Jameson wrote three autobiographies.
Jameson wrote several science fiction novels. In the Second Year (1936) is a dystopia set in a fascist Britain. Then We Shall Hear Singing describes a near-future invasion by the Nazis of an imaginary country.
Her most controversial work was Modern Drama in Europe (1920) a critical analysis of the progress made in drama in the first part of the twentieth century. Though most of her commentaries are highly critical and sometimes malicious, her boldness reaches its peak when she asserts that William Butler Yeats "represents the last state in symbolic imbecility".
When Vera Brittain and Storm Jameson met at Jameson's flat in November 1932, Brittain's diary records that '[Jameson] said my best chance to get some notice and prestige for [Testament of Youth] was for a group of people who think the book worthwhile to notice it instantly upon publication. She promised to do this herself. In fact, Jameson had already promised (in reply to Brittain's first letter concerning the New Clarion article) to review Testament for the New English Weekly. She later offered to set up reviews at the New Statesman and the Week-End Review, and when the time came she also wrote reviews herself for both the Yorkshire Post and the Sunday Times. Jameson had less faith in her own book (writing in the same letter, 'I do not feel that about mine'), but Brittain also played her part in securing notice for No Time Like the Present. She reviewed it herself in the Week-End Review, while a review by Winifred Holtby in Time and Tide was apparently arranged at Brittain's instigation.
In October 1933, Brittain sent roses to Jameson, who replied by letter: These most lovely roses were here when I came in from having my injection, so I didn't care at all about my sore arm and head but I feel splendid and feel, too, that something good just might come of a look behind which is so much kindness. Something is changing in me because of all this -1 think Tve been half dead (partly out of choice) and I'm coming alive. You'll say: 'The woman's going mad'. I don't think I am really, but I think knowing you has been damned good for me and that I shall never repay my debts. These roses were among a number of gifts Brittain made to Jameson during the course of the friendship which also included delicacies from Fortnum and Mason (a fashionable food store in West London) on occasions when Jameson was unwell, a financial loan when Jameson needed medical treatment for her back, and a bracelet (apparently a Christmas present) which Jameson wears 'with all the pride, joy and pleasure in the world'. This potential for an erotic dimension to the friendship is further evident in a series of exchanges in which Brittain and Jameson discussed possible travel plans which never actually materialized.
Following the personal losses Brittain suffered in the First World War through the deaths of her brother and fiancé at the Front, the death in September 1935 of Winifred Holtby, 'the best friend whom life has given me', brought a new and devastating grief. From this moment Brittain's need of Jameson's friendship inevitably increased, and, she sought 'to mould [Jameson] as a substitute friend and confidante'. However, the intimate depths that came to be acknowledged and 'understood' in Brittain's and Holtby's friendship found no comfortable expression in the friendship of Brittain and Jameson which continued to be troubled by its more intense desires.
It was in April 1940 that a violent quarrel exposed the 'failure of intimacy' in this friendship. The quarrel arose in relation to the publication of Jameson's new novel, Europe to Let. Reading the book on her return from her third lecture tour in America, Brittain perceived in the character of Olga Stehlík (a woman writerlecturer) an unflattering portrait of herself. Brittain wrote to Jameson, praising the novel in general terms but requesting an opportunity to discuss 'one or two things in the Prague chapter'. From ensuing correspondence it is clear that at a meeting that took place two days later Brittain levelled her accusations at Jameson who was shocked, indignant and extremely upset. Thoroughly losing her temper with Brittain, Jameson's parting comment was that if there had been an idea of Brittain in her head at all when writing the book it was in the character of Hana Carek that she interpreted it. The intensive exchange of letters that followed went some way to repairing the friendship on a temporary basis, but the friendship never fully recovered from the admissions and revelations this correspondence involved.
Tensions in the friendship escalated once again through the remainder of 1940 and 1941 over matters documented in the correspondence, including: disagreement over Brittain's family affairs (Jameson strongly believed that Brittain's first duty was to her children and that she should have gone with them to America rather than evacuating them alone); Jameson's use of a letter from Brittain in a pamphlet exposing the weaknesses of the pacifist position; Brittain's removal of Jameson from her will as literary executor and guardian of the children without telling her. The correspondence ends in November 1941 with a terrible sadness. In a further denial of the more complex levels of intimacy being negotiated in this friendship Brittain wrote to Jameson, 'I don't want to lose your friendship, because my experience tells me that it is the war, and nothing else, which has come between, and if we are both here when it is over, we shall wonder how ever such a tiny rift looked like such a wide chasm'. Both women survived the war but never resumed their friendship.
Jameson's collection of novellas, Women Against Men, was admired by The Times reviewer, Harold Strauss, who stated, "So completely is she the master of her art, so instinctively the craftsman, so superlatively the selective artist, that a restrained evaluation of her work is difficult for a student of the novel." Jameson wrote the introduction to the 1952 British edition of The Diary of Anne Frank
Jameson's novel Last Score was praised by Ben Ray Redman in the Saturday Review of Literature. Redman described Last Score as "one of Storm Jameson's best" and stated "it is the complex web of human relationships that give this novel its breadth and depth".
A biography by Jennifer Birkett, professor of French Studies at Birmingham University, was published by the Oxford University Press in March 2009. A second biography, Elizabeth Maslen's Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson: A Biography, was published in 2014 by Northwestern University Press.
The rebuilt Charles Morris Halls of the University of Leeds now have a building named after her, Storm Jameson Court.
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