Wednesday, July 22, 2020

O Douglas extracts now on our VLE

We’ve recently developed a number of materials using extracts from the works of O. Douglas. “Who he?” you might ask. Well, to begin with this author, very popular in the 1920s and 30s is a she… You can see above her entry in the “Authors” section of the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment).

O. Douglas (aka Anna Buchan) was very popular during her lifetime but is now a very underrated author; writing predominantly between the wars, during a time of great political and social upheaval, Douglas determinedly kept what we would call “issues” out of her novels, instead focusing on the domestic mores of the white middle classes. I have heard her described as Enid Blyton for grownups which is grossly unfair. Her imagined world may be cosy but it’s never cruel, as Blyton’s often was. However, I think it is probably the lack of issues in her stories that have contributed to her disappearance from our bookshelves – and any curriculum too!

That’s a great shame. Dialogue is something that many writers will tell you is difficult to pull off successfully – sometimes it can be a writer’s greatest challenge. Douglas is wonderful with her dialogue – using it to both further the action and enable us to learn more about her characters – and with some lovely humour in there too. I think in life she must have been as much of a people-listener as a watcher.

Here’s a line from her obituary in The Scotsman newspaper: “It has been objected that the people of her books are too "pleasant," but, at a time when fiction was passing through an ultra-realistic phase, this pleasantness was a relief to many readers.”

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