Amanda McKittrick Ross: The World's Worst Novelist

Amanda McKittrick RossAre you a bad writer? Do people react to your prose as they would to Vogon poetry? You still have nothing to boast of. Amanda McKittrick Ross (1860-1939), according to some literary critics, was the worst published novelist in the history of the English language:

In this literary sub-genre, Irish writer Amanda McKittrick Ros reigns supreme. "Uniquely dreadful," proclaims the Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. "The greatest bad writer who ever lived," says author Nick Page.

Ros, who died in 1939, abused (some would say, tortured) the English language in three novels and dozens of poems. She refers to eyes as "globes of glare," legs as "bony supports," pants as a "southern necessary," sweat as "globules of liquid lava" and alcohol as the "powerful monster of mangled might." The Oxford literary group "The Inklings," which included C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, held competitions to see who could read her work aloud longest while keeping a straight face.

Mark Twain considered her first book, Irene Iddesleigh, as "one of the greatest unin­tentionally humorous novels of all time." Consider this passage: "Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!" [...]

Ros' husband, a train station manager in a small Northern Ireland town, financed the publication of Irene Iddesleigh as a tenth wedding anniversary present. A reader sent a copy to humorist Barry Pain, who in an 1898 review called it "a thing that happens once in a million years." Initially entertained, he soon "shrank before it in tears and terror." In the preface to her next book Ros attacked Pain as a "clay crab of corruption" and a "cancerous irritant wart." Like many novelists, she believed her critics lacked the intellect to appreciate her talent and came to believe that her growing legion of detractors conspired against her for revealing the corruption of the ruling class—thereby disturbing, as she put it, "the bowels of millions."

Who would you nominate as the world's worst novelist?

Link -via TYWKIWDBI | Photo via Odd Books


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When I was very young, I read Final Blackout and was really impressed. I read it again a few years ago and wondered how I had made it through the first time. It was a good idea for a novel, but poorly executed.
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I dunno. She has a turn of phrase that I find humorous, if unintentionally so. She's better than some of the trashy novelists my sister reads.
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