Irene Coles

Known among the Tilling folk as “Quaint Irene” Irene is a post-impressionist painter and, according Guy Fraser-Sampson in Major Benjy, a lesbian. EF Benson however wouldn't dream of exploring that sort of territory other than in the most oblique manner.

Benson describes her thus when we are first introduced to her in Miss Mapp which will give you a flavour of Irene:

Disgrace of Tilling and her sex, the suffragette, post-impressionist artist (who painted from the nude, both male and female), the socialist and the Germanophil, all incarnate in one frame. In spite of these execrable antecedents, it was quite in vain that Miss Mapp had tried to poison the collective mind of Tilling against this Creature. If she hated anybody, and she undoubtedly did, she hated Irene Coles. The bitterest part of it all was that if Miss Coles was amused at anybody, and she undoubtedly was, she was amused at Miss Mapp.

Miss Coles was strolling along in the attire to which Tilling generally had got accustomed, but Miss Mapp never. She had an old wide-awake hat jammed down on her head, a tall collar and stock, a large loose coat, knickerbockers and grey stockings.

Irene lives in Taormina in West Street with her maid Lucy although Benson seems to forget about Lucy after Miss Mapp as she doesn't appear in later books, a fact explained away by Guy Fraser-Sampson in the plot of Major Benjy.

fn/irene.txt · Last modified: 2012-09-24 00:05 by pkoldham
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