Irishwomen, Friends and Scholars
Conclusion Although Helen and Maude’s lists of publications boast relatively few titles, each was an exceptional twentieth-century medievalist, achieving distinction within her discipline. Maude’s research, scrupulously exact and speculatively original, was absorbed into the mainstream of fourteenth- century historiography. Helen’s writings meld thorough, detailed learning with art, transforming both. The story of their achievement plays out against the background of opportunities and obstacles facing academically minded young women in the United Kingdom and Ireland at the beginning of the twentieth century. Among those who made a dif ference to their success were several men in positions of inf luence, including Gregory Smith. Smith blocked Helen’s academic career at Queen’s but believed in her abilities and provided her with publishing contacts, initiating the relationship with Constable and Co. which lasted her whole career.1 The active backing of George Saintsbury, Britain’s most famous man of letters, was vital in securing Helen’s eventual success. He of fered her press introductions, wrote her a testimonial for general use, read and commented on the manuscript and proofs of The Wandering Scholars (as did Smith), provided a reader’s report for Constable’s and reviewed it in the Observer.2 F. M. Powicke went out of his way to promote Maude’s chances of obtaining the History Tutorship at Somerville in 1919, writing three separate letters of recom- mendation.3 Maude’s father’s support was crucial for her; Mrs Waddell’s 1 HW to MM , WP, box 11; HW to GPT, 5 Sept. 1916; 29 Oct. 1916; 5 Sept. 1916, WP, box...
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