Biography – Later Years

During that period Q also prepared a completely new uniform Duchy Edition of all his fiction,  providing a new preface to almost all of the thirty volumes published in 1928/29. This was a very bold venture at a time when literary fashions had changed considerably but it is said that he believed that public taste would change back again in future years! May this be true of the 21st century!

Q still remained remarkably active in his seventies, both in Cambridge and Fowey, but sadly did not complete his his delightful little book of his early reminiscences. ‘Memories and Opinions: an Unfinished Autobiography’ was published in 1944, shortly after his death on May 12th that year.

A memorial tablet in Truro Cathedral remembers him as someone who “ as author, critic and anthologist kindled in others a lively and discriminating love of English literature”. His influence, however, was spread even wider. His friend, Cambridge colleague and first biographer, Brittain, once wrote that “ Q has many claims to be remembered by posterity….. as an original character, a humorist, an entertaining conversationalist, a charming and generous host, and a friend of all who turned to him in any kind of trouble..a great Cornishman.” (Brittain. p.155)

All who met him came under his spell . A.L Rowse wrote: “ ..his spirit is still over us all..for those of us who .. write, he is the head of us all.” When speaking or writing about him over the years, all have done so with both respect and real affection. This was summed up by his old friend, Isaac Foot, when he was reviewing Brittain’s biography in 1947: “ It would probably be impossible for anyone outside the West-country fully to understand our sense of personal loss when we learnt that Q, at his death, left his autobiography unfinished ,…what would we not have given for the full story ?”

Chronological summary:

1910:  Knighted        1912: Hon. D. Litt. Bristol University

1912:  King Edward VII Professor of English Literature, University of Cambridge

1926:  Hon. Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford           Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge

Freeman of the Boroughs of Bodmin (1936)   Fowey (1937)   Truro (1938)

1937-38  Mayor of Fowey

Other reading:

Quiller Couch, Sir Arthur T. Memories and Opinions: An Unfinished Autobiography: (1944) Cambridge U.P.

Brittain, F. Arthur Quiller-Couch:A biographical study of Q: (1947) Cambridge U.P. (with full comprehensive bibliography).

Rowse, A.L.Quiller Couch: A Portrait of Q: (1988) Methuen.    …dedicated “To Daphne du Maurier in common admiration for our old mentor and friend”.