Amanda McKittrick Ros : biography
On 11 November 2006 as part of a 50-year celebration, the librarian Elspeth Legg hosted a major retrospective of her works, culminating in a public reading by 65 delegates of the entire contents of Fumes of Formation. The theme of the workshop that followed was ‘Suppose you chance to write a book’, Line 17 of ‘Myself’ from page 2 of Fumes of Formation.
She wrote under the pen-name Amanda McKittrick Ros, possibly in an attempt to suggest a connection to the noble de Ros family of County Down. Ros was strongly influenced by the novelist Marie Corelli. She wrote: "My chief object of writing is and always has been, to write if possible in a strain all my own. This I find is why my writings are so much sought after."Parsons, Nicholas, The Joy of Bad Verse, London: Collins, 1988, p. 268. Her admirers included Mark Twain, Lord Beveridge, and Aldous Huxley.Parsons, Nicholas, The Joy of Bad Verse, London: Collins, 1988, p. 339. Her novel Irene Iddesleigh was published in 1897.It was reprinted by Nonesuch Press in 1926 It was reviewed by humorist Barry Pain who sarcastically termed it "the book of the century." Ros retorted in her preface to Delina Delaney by branding Pain a "clay crab of corruption," and suggesting that he was so hostile only because he was secretly in love with her. But Ros claimed to have made enough money from her second novel, Delina Delaney, to build a house, which she named Iddesleigh.
Belfast Public Libraries have a large collection of manuscripts, typescripts and first editions of her work. Manuscript copies include Irene Iddesleigh, Sir Benjamin Bunn and Six Months in Hell. Typescript versions of all the above are held together with Rector Rose, St. Scandal Bags and The Murdered Heiress among others. The collection of first editions covers all her major works including volumes of her poetry Fumes of Formation and Poems of Puncture, together with lesser known pieces such as Kaiser Bill and Donald Dudley: The Bastard Critic. The collection includes hundreds of letters addressed to Ros, many with her own comments in the margins. Also included are typed copies of her letters to newspapers, correspondence with her admiring publisher T.S. Mercer, an album of newspaper cuttings and photographs, and a script for a BBC broadcast from July 1943.