Mary’s rst attempt at a novel, Her Evil Genius, would not make a name for its author and in fact it was never published. Her youngest sister Hester considered it ‘horribly vulgar’ and it is likely that it formed part of the nal bon re Mary remembered fuelling with at least two early novels when she le Hodnet many years later.1 In her masterpiece of 1899, Red Pottage, she would allow her writer heroine a dazzling revelation, in the sudden realization of her talent, followed by a sensational success only a year later, before she is brought to near breakdown by the sti ing regime of her brother’s household. But if Mary’s own rst novel was not to project her into overnight fame, it did at least con rm that writing and not painting would be her career.