Margaret Gough

‘I don’t wonder she throws the typewriter at him!’ A cartoon by George Moore reflecting his working relationship with Margaret Frith nee Gough.

This page presents material relating to Frith’s grandmother Margaret Gough, a translator of Turgenev and secretary to the Irish novelist George Moore in the early 1900s. Included here are copies of a letter from Moore to Gough following her marriage and Moore’s sketch above. Also available here is a pamphlet by Frith with a sketch of his grandmother and a poem on her typewriter which she had given to her grandson. The poem and sketch were created by Frith for a special lecture given by Dr Brendan Fleming of the University of Buckingham on his research into Margaret Gough.

Here Frith describes his serendipitous introduction to Dr Fleming and the origins of that lecture:

“The Margaret Gough material relates to a talk given to a special Jack Straws Lane meeting of the Matinee-soiree Society [see the Frith Archive Catalogue] c.2010 by Dr Brendan Fleming of the University of Buckingham on what he had discovered about my grandmother. The talk was a preview of an article he was to publish, ‘A Portrait of Margaret Gough and her Memoir “George Moore”’, which appeared in the journal English Literature in Transition 1880-1920, Volume 25 Number 2, 2012, where he discusses her work for Moore, her dealings with his friends and her own published translations of Turgenev short stories.

George Moore was of the group of Irish Writers who at the turn of the twentieth century led the Irish Revival, and was ranked along with Shaw and Yeats. He introduced into English the Zola-type realistic novel, his most famous being ‘Esther Waters’, and collaborated with Yeats on a play for the newly formed Abbey Gate Theatre, which had music written by Elgar, and which grandma had to cobble together from Moore and Yeats’ constant rewriting of each other’s draughts, adding bits of her own when she needed to cover the joins.

I met Brendan at a drinks party…and unexpectedly we found ourselves drawn into an escalation of discoveries, or, as the Ancient Greeks might have it, a feast of anagnoriseis. I had already told him I was tutor in English Literature and Theatre at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, but then, to see what line of work he was in, I said, “What about you?”.

“Oh, I’m English Literature too, doing a D.Phil.”

“Golly! What period?”

“The Irish Revival.”

“Oh Gawd,” I said, not knowing much about the Irish Revival, being of a more Medieval-and-Renaissance turn of mind. Anyway, not expecting much more to develop from our talk, I continued, just to be polite, “Concentrating on anyone in particular?”

“The novelist George Moore.”

“My grandmother was his secretary!”

“Not Margaret Gough!”

“You even know her name!”

Brendan chuckled, “Oh there’s a lot of interest in Margaret Gough. She’s a mystery woman. No one knows much about her at all.”

“Well, they do know!”

So he came to tea the next day, and I showed him a lot of papers, which I photocopied for him, and we talked some more, and he ended up contributing the article based on the material, which was chiefly a typescript of her memoir of her old boss, but also some of Moore’s letters to her from his lodgings in Dublin and in Ebury Street, London, and a cartoon, which must have related to an incident where Margaret Gough responded to George Moore’s wilful ways in kind.”

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Below is a  letter from George Moore to Margaret Frith, nee Gough, asking if she would make a copy a story for him on her typewriter, and the cartoon by Moore depicting Gough hurling a typewriter at him. [NB. Please click on thumbnails below to see a larger image.]

Letter to Margaret Gough from George Moore
A cartoon by George Moore