Rose Allatini on Radio Four

For four years the BBC has been running a dramatised serial about the First World War, following events as they happened, a century on. It’s called Home Front. I haven’t been listening, but today I was alerted to the fact that the latest episode mentioned Rose Allatini and Despised and Rejected.

The episode is available on iPlayer, at https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/b0bkb188, so I listened. It starts in a library, with a woman returning the novel in a state of confusion. She had found it in the romance section, but it wasn’t what she had expected. She asks the librarian what is meant when Dennis tells Antoinette that she has the same kink of abnormality as he does. The librarian is confused and avoids the issue,  and when her superior comes along he decides that the book has been placed into the library unofficially  by someone subversive. In shocked tones he describes the court case, and the Times headline describing the novel as ‘a pernicious book’.

The programme is very much a historical soap opera, and the acting is decidedly BBC radio average (The actress taking the part of the confused soul who had borrowed the book by mistake seemed to be condescending like anything to the character she was playing.) Later, some of the characters actually seemed to know Rose Allatini (I gather the series mixes real characters with fictional ones) because they were indignant she had been named in court. Has anyone heard earlier episodes where she is introduced or discussed?

It’s good to know that Rose is getting a bit of publicity a century on from her trial. Despised and Rejected is not a great novel (I don’t think it’s Rose’s best) but it is a brave and daring one, and deserves to be remembered.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Andrea Schwedler
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    There is, in fact, another episode on Rose Allatini on Home Front. I googled her name on the BBC which gave me three hits: https://www.bbc.co.uk/search?filter=programmes&q=rose+allatinies

    Rose and her lover Edie have an argument about love and faithfulness, when Edie comes home and finds Rose with another woman. Rose tries to defend herself along the lines of “we lesbians need to reinvent love, we don´t belong to other people…” She did not feel “committed” (her word) whereas Edie did. So Edie leaves Rose and storms out of the house. It all sounded rather hollow (to me at least). No word about the novel “Despised and Rejected” which has just been published – a missed opportunity.
    It´s really odd that the BBC did not bother to list Rose Allatini under the characters (“real historical figures”).
    Keep up the good work!! I am very much enjoying your posts about Rose Allatini.
    I have just ordered her novel and look very much forward to reading it.
    Best wishes from Cologne
    Andrea Schwedler

    • Posted October 6, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. I shall listen to these. I wonder what evidence they have that Rose was lesbian. I haven’t found any. Perhaps I’ve been looking in the wrong places.

      • Posted October 8, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        I’ve now listened to the first of the earlier programmes. Rose Allatini is depicted as an upper-class woman leading working-class (salt of the earth) women astray and dressing up a boy in girl’s clothing against his wishes, for the sake of a photograph. Is there any basis for this, or is it just the scriptwriter’s fantasy?

  2. Posted October 12, 2018 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    I’ve now heard more episodes of this soap serial. In one of them, Despised and Rejected has just been chosen for publication by C.W. Daniel. Rose Allatini, who insists on being called ‘A.T.’, is in Folkestone at the time. She is so excited that she indulges in an afternoon of passion with the the Lesbian girlfriend of a friend of hers. The friend angrily asks: ‘Is that how you generally celebrate your books being published? By taking all your clothes off and getting into bed with the proofreader?’
    Is there any evidence for the events of this episode? Or is it just the fantasy of the scriptwriter? The author of these episodes seems to be Sarah Daniels, who was well-known in the 1980s for writing fiercely feminist plays, some I think with Lesbian content.
    Later in the episode, there is a big argument between the two fictional Lesbians. One declaims: ‘We don’t own one another. We are free. Envy and jealousy belong in a petty-bourgeois capitalist patriarchal society.’
    The BBC makes a big thing about the authenticity of the series and getting details right, but according to the OED that usage of the word ‘patriarchal’ is not found before 1970.


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