Elizabeth Taylor the writer has often been overlooked, an unfair side effect of having the same name as a very famous actress. But “The Other Elizabeth Taylor” (which just so happens to be the title of Nicola Beauman’s biography of the writer) deserves to be discovered in her own right and this collection of short stories is a perfect place to start.
“Elizabeth Taylor is a shocking and disturbing writer.”
Anne Tyler called Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Bowen, and Jane Austen soul sisters, and yet the first name on the list remains criminally underread. In her introduction to You’ll Enjoy It When You Get There, recently published by New York Review Books, Margaret Drabble wrote: “Elizabeth Taylor is a shocking and disturbing writer.” While very British in her sensibilities, Taylor was ahead of her time in so many ways. She wrote about women’s lives with a keen eye for what goes on beneath the surface and behind the curtains.
Many of these stories were originally published in the New Yorker where William Maxwell—one of my personal favorite American writers—was her editor. I will leave you these words from a letter Eudora Welty wrote to William Maxwell:
Gently raining. Camellias are blooming, it’s cold . . . . A new Elizabeth Taylor to read!