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Creator / Amanda McKittrick Ros

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Have you ever visited that portion of Erin's plot that offers its sympathetic soil for the minute survey and scrutinous examination of those in political power, whose decision has wisely been the means before now of converting the stern and prejudiced, and reaching the hand of slight aid to share its strength in augmenting its agricultural richness?
—Opening lines of Delina Delaney

I first read this sentence nearly three years ago. Since then, I have read it once a week in an increasingly desperate search for meaning. But I still don't understand it.
Nick Page, In Search of the World's Worst Writers, on the above sentence.

Anna Margaret Ross (8 December 1860 - 2 February 1939), known by her Pen Name Amanda McKittrick Ros, was an Irish writer. She wrote poetry and a number of novels, publishing her first novel Irene Iddesleigh in 1897.

She was born in Drumaness, County Down, on 8 December 1860 and was christened Anna Margaret McKittrick on 27 January 1861. Some time in the 1880's she attended Marlborough Teacher Training College in Dublin, was appointed Monitor at Millbrook National School, Larne, County Antrim, finished her training at Marlborough and then became a qualified teacher at the same school.

In her first visit to Larne, she met Andrew Ross, a widower who worked as a station master there. They married on 30 August 1887, and Andrew financed for the publication of his wife's first novel Irene Iddesleigh, thus starting her literary career. She took the Pen Name Amanda McKittrick Ros and went to write two more novels and a number of poems.


She died on 2 February 1939 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, after receiving injuries from a fall.

Ros's literary work was not widely read and is considered to be So Bad, It's Good, due to its Purple Prose. The Inklings, a group of authors whose names included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, held contests to see who could spend the most time reading her works without laughing.


  • Irene Iddesleigh (novel)
  • Delina Delaney (novel)
  • Poems of Puncture (poetry)
  • Fumes of Formation (poetry)
  • Helen Huddleson (posthumous novel)


Tropes that apply to Ros and her work:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: It certainly appealed to her!
  • Alliterative Title: All of her works: Irene Iddesleigh, Delina Delaney, Poems of Puncture, Fumes of Formation, and Helen Huddleson.
  • Aside Comment: All of her books had Ros addressing the reader directly, asking them their opinion.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Ros attacked her critics vociferously, calling them "bastard donkey-headed mites" and "clay crabs of corruption".
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: Befitting her status as "an Elizabethan born out of her time", her characters, at least in Irene Iddesleigh and for the few times they do speak, randomly dip into Middle English for words such as "thou".
  • Giftedly Bad:
    • When your works turn writers such as C. S. Lewis and Tolkien into trolls, you are the possessor of a decidedly "special" talent.
    • Huxley pointed out in his 1923 essay Euphues Redivivus how she managed to channel the Euphuist movement from Elizabethan times even though she in all likelihood never got the chance to study them.note 
      “In Mrs. Ros we see, as we see in the Elizabethan novelists, the result of the discovery of art by an unsophisticated mind and of its first conscious attempt to produce the artistic. It is remarkable how late in the history of every literature simplicity is invented. The first attempts of any people to be consciously literary are always productive of the most elaborate artificiality.”
    • Contemporary critic Barry Pain stated she was "a thing that happens once in a million years. There is no one above it and no one beside it, and it sits alone as the nightingale sings."
  • May–December Romance: Downplayed, if not subverted, in Irene Iddesleigh. The titular character is young, while John Dunfern is, as Ros puts it, "a man of forty summers".
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: She was essentially incapable of writing a plain English sentence.
  • Pet the Dog: Every reader who purchased a book directly from her also got a personally addressed note of thanks.
  • Purple Prose: Bow to the Queen & Empress of the Hogwash Guildnote . Ros seems to be incapable of saying even the most basic things directly. For example:
    "She tried hard to keep herself a stranger to her poor old father’s slight income by the use of the finest production of steel, whose blunt edge eyed the reely covering with marked greed, and offered its sharp dart to faultless fabrics of flaxen fineness."note 
  • Rape as Drama: In Irene Iddlesleigh, it's not clear whether a drunken Oscar Otwell raped the title character... or just said a lot of mean words to her.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: In Chapter 4 of Irene Iddesleigh the term "tête-à-têtes" was mistakenly written as "tetè-a-tetès". We don't know if Ros wrote it that way or if that were just her publisher.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: She asked her publisher if her books could win a Nobel Prize for Literature, "What think you of this prize? Do you think I should make a 'dart' for it?"
  • Spiritual Successor: These days, The Eye of Argon is the subject of the "who can read the longest along without laughing" game.
  • Theme Naming: In Helen Huddleson, many characters are named after fruits.
  • Vanity Publishing: All of her work was self-published, thanks to her doting husband. It goes without saying that this was the only way her books would ever see print. On a heartwarming note, she also personally thanked with an enclosed note each of the people who ordered a book from her.
  • You're Just Jealous: Her default retort to many of her critics. She went as far as claiming critic Barry Pain was jealous of her talent only because he was secretly in love with her.


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