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A Pageant Truly Play'd

Constance Smedley (1876-1941) and Maxwell Armfield (1881-1972)

Maxwell Armfield and Constance Smedley were an unorthodox couple who deserve more attention. Both were accomplished in many of the arts, but Max’s focus was on painting, whilst Connie’s was on writing.

In Tessa West’s delightful "A Pageant Truly Play’d" the separate and jointly lived lives of these creative and resourceful individuals are told.

They studied at the Birmingham School of Art in the late 1800s, but did not come across each other until some years later. By then Connie, despite a disability from childhood, had created an artistic life. Her founding of the Lyceum Club – the first women-only London club – was her landmark achievement.

The Armfields married in 1911 and moved out of London where Max combined caring for Connie with his painting. Their involvement in a local fête cemented their enjoyment of the Cotswolds.
However, they also spent seven years in the US where all their endeavours – from embroidery to teaching drama and to exhibitions – found success.
An uplifting account that follows Connie and Max on their personal, artistic and social journeys . . .
Jonathan Harris, Head, Birmingham School of Art - June 2020

Brewin Books - ISBN 978-1-85858-722-6

Lady Ryder of Warsaw (1924-2000)

Sue Ryder was a unique and capable woman. She was ambitious for her many projects whose primary aim was to relieve suffering. She helped concentration camp survivors, people born with disabilities and those with long-term illnesses. Her Catholic faith nourished her resolve as did her marriage to Leonard Cheshire, the RAF war hero who was also a philanthropist. Sue Ryder was unstoppable until the very end. I wrote this book because, once I knew something about her, I wanted others to do so too, so that her spirit, her sometimes contradictory personality and her many achievements are not forgotten.

Shepheard-Walwyn - ISBN 978085683520-9

The Curious Mr. Howard (1726-1790)

Though John Howard’s reputation rests squarely on his efforts as a prison reformer, my intention was to write a biography that would give interest and enjoyment to a wider range of readers than those primarily alert to penal affairs. As I read about Howard’s aims to improve the terrible conditions he witnessed, I became increasingly aware of what sort of a man he was. As well as being generous and humane he was unusual. Once he started on his prison work, he hardly flourished except when working and his private life became a source of sorrow.

Waterside Press - ISBN 978-1-904380-73-3