Other Day, The

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The Other Day was commissioned in 1935. The literary agent Michael Joseph told Dorothy Whipple that ‘he was going to set up as a publisher and wanted me to write a book – an autobiography – for him to publish. I kept on saying I couldn’t do it and he kept on saying I could’ (Random Commentary p. 60).

Despite her misgivings – a few weeks later she wrote ‘I hate my autobiography. How can I drivel on like this for 80,000 words?’ – she had finished by the New Year of 1936. Michael Joseph was delighted. ‘He says The Other Day is far the best thing I have done yet [she had by then published Young AnneHigh WagesGreenbanks and They Knew Mr Knight]. He says I don’t know what a good book I have written. I glowed with sherry and happiness.’

It is indeed a delightful book, describing in a charming and insightful way DW’s first twelve years (she was born in 1893). Each chapter describes her at a different age, from three years old to twelve, with her large and very happy family in the background and foreground. Her parents were sensible and loving, her siblings affectionate and rumbustious, her grandmother kind and understanding (she is evoked in Greenbanks).

In her Preface to Young Anne, Dorothy Whipple’s first and most autobiographical novel published in 1927, Lucy Mangan writes: ‘Like Dorothy Whipple, Anne is the youngest child of a respectable, middle-class Lancastrian family, sensitive yet unsentimental, and alert to the nuances of human behaviour, even if she struggles at times to understand their full meaning.’ It was this theme of the sensitive child trying to understand and adapt to the tyranny of grownups, of adults and children living side by side in mutually inaccessible worlds, that would be explored in even more depth in The Other Day a decade later.

A very ‘noticing’ child, from an early age DW had the acute eye for domestic detail which would be used to such superb effect in her novels; because one of the most extraordinary things about The Other Day, especially for those of us who do not remember much about our own childhoods, is DW’s total recall. Here is the passage about the death of Queen Victoria in 1901: ‘A bell tolled. The bell tolled again. “She’s gone,” said my mother in a strange voice…I leaned against the sofa, listening. The air was like a jelly slapped by the bell. At each slap the jelly wobbled violently; then less and less; it merely quivered; but before it could set into stillness the bell slapped it again. I waited for each bell. “The Queen is dead,” I said to myself. It had a solemn sound. The bell was solemn too. It was the most majestic solemn moment I had known. I was conscious of it, but I was also conscious that the Good Queen had died just in time to save Mrs B’s baby from falling into the coal-box, and me from a severe scolding, or worse.’

Dorothy Whipple was clearly an outstanding and admirable person – perceptive, funny, kind, lacking in vanity, someone whom every single Persephone reader would love to have known. The Other Day will tell Whipple admirers a great deal about her as a child and how she became the adult and the writer that she did. And now we have published and adored every single one of her books and with great sadness we must accept that fact and that there is nothing more to come.


The Other Day endpaper is a 1900 printed linen textile with stylised tulips and ogee leaf frames.

More Information
Weight 0.400000
ISBN13/Barcode 9781910263341
ISBN10 1910263346
Author Dorothy Whipple
Binding Paperback
Date Published 20th October 2022
Pages 253
Publisher Persephone Books