Carswell, Catherine (1879–1946) By McCulloch, Margery Palmer
Catherine Carswell was one of an increasing number of women who tested boundaries in life and literature in the early years of the 20th century. Born Catherine Macfarlane in Glasgow, she made legal history in 1908 when her first marriage was annulled on the grounds of her husband’s mental incapacity. She supported her daughter of the marriage through journalism, writing fiction reviews for the Glasgow Herald and drama criticism for the Observer and was dismissed by the Glasgow Herald for publishing her review of D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow without previous editorial consent. Her compensation was a friendship and correspondence with Lawrence which lasted until his death. She published two novels, Open the Door which was copiously critiqued by Lawrence and won the Melrose prize for fiction in 1920; and The Camomile published in 1922. Her biography of Robert Burns (1930) outraged the Scottish Burns Clubs owing to its treatment of Burns as a sexual being, and her memoir of Lawrence, The Savage Pilgrimage (1932) was written in refutation of John Middleton Murry’s Son of Woman. Her work made a significant contribution to modern Scottish literature.