Throughout her life, Antonia White struggled with a formidable writer’s block: the FROST IN MAY quartet was thought to be her final achievement. Yet on her death, this extraordinary work – her autobiography up to the age of six – was discovered among her papers.
The freshness and vitality with which Antonia White recorded her much younger self is breathtaking. A writer with the phenomenal power of almost total recall, she recreates her capricious and extravagant mother and the indomitable father she both feared and adored, who taught Antonia the first line of the Iliad when she was three. Here, too, are perfect vignettes: the glorious bridesmaid’s hat which her mother later appropriated; love at first sight in Kensington Gardens and games of Mr and Mrs John Barker in the nursery. Much more than an evocation of childhood, AS ONCE IN MAY illuminates the woman and writer Antonia White was to become. It is an essential and enthralling companion to her fiction.