IT’S a little known local fact that the first novel written by a working class woman ever published was penned by Oswaldtwistle’s own, Ethel Carnie.
Published in 1913, Carnie’s debut novel, Miss Nobody, is set to enjoy a renaissance a hundred years later after it was republished yesterday.
Pockets of academics around the country have been quietly championing Carnie’s work for years, highlighting the importance of her literary canon and her status as a northern working millwoman who refused to let her circumstances get in the way of her literary and political ambitions.
Dr Nicola Wilson, of Reading University, believed Carnie’s novels should be reprinted and worked with publishers Kennedy and Boyd to republish Miss Nobody for its centenary.
Dr Wilson said: “I studied literature for a long time until I came across any working class writers at all and when I found the novels of a woman, Ethel Carnie, I realised how rare she was. I knew they had to be republished and her importance recognised.
“Miss Nobody is now available from Amazon and we are hoping to get it into local bookshops too.”
Writer and Carnie champion, Belinda Webb, has written an introduction in the latest version and claims Carnie’s background means she is often doubly overlooked. “She should be on the national curriculum – that’s how important she is.” She said, adding: “She wrote for workers about workers.”
Carnie’s great niece, Helen Brown, nee Carnie, still lives in Padiham and is thrilled her great aunt’s books will be in Lancashire’s bookshops again.
She said: “As a child, I knew my father’s aunt Ethel was an author but it’s only now that I realise how unique she was.”