Catherine Carswell’s ‘Open the Door!’ – Republishing a Rebel

Catherine Carswell was a badass. Both personally and professionally she dealt with more than her fair share of strife. In her time, Carswell became well-known for her biography of Robert Burns, but not for the right reasons. Carswell’s biography was controversial – unlike previous works which praised and worshipped Burns, Carswell’s account of his life was frank and honest, detailing his faults and affairs. For this she received huge backlash from the many fans of Burns who rejected this portrayal, attacking her with sermons and apparently going as far as sending her bullets to use upon herself. So that was fun.

Personally, Carswell had faced turmoil from her first marriage to a war veteran named Herbert Jackson. They married very early in their relationship, only for Carswell to later discover that he suffered incredibly from paranoia – thinking himself sterile, Herbert accused his wife of betrayal when she announced her pregnancy, and threatened her life. Carswell made legal history when she managed to get the marriage annulled after establishing that her husband’s insanity was present when they first married. Again – fun.

Catherine Carswell was incredibly brave in both of these circumstances – brave enough to write so controversially, and brave enough to fight against the marriage she was in. Her novel Open the Door! first published in 1920, is reflective of this. The novel follows Joanna Bannerman as she grows and questions the attitudes instilled in her during her youth – religion, marriage, female identity, sex – subjects we are still questioning now. For these reasons I chose to produce this novel, and for these reasons she deserves to be celebrated on International Women’s Day. Genuine fun!

This book will be edited and designed by Lizzie Green. Head on over to my Twitter if you’re in need of GIFs or any general ridiculousness.

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