Gary Dexter

Surprising literary ventures | 23 September 2009

Ermyntrude and Esmeralda, by Lytton Strachey

Ermyntrude and Esmeralda was written in 1913 but not published until 1969, long after Lytton Strachey’s death. The delay was not surprising: the book consists of an exchange of letters between two naïve 17-year-old girls who are determined to find out where babies come from. Ermyntrude theorises that ‘it’s got something to do with those absurd little things that men have in statues hanging between their legs’, and reports to her eager correspondent that

Once, when I was at Oxford, looking at the races with my cousin Tom, I heard quite a common woman say to another, ‘There, Sarah, doesn’t...

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