The long Mediterranean coast-line of Spain from the Pyrenees to the Pillars of Hercules, with the Atlantic shore beyond that sweeps round Cadiz Bay to the southern edge of Portugal, is the changing scene of Rose Macaulay's journey, here described, as she drove her car along the fabled shore. Phoenician and Greek settlements, Carthaginian cities, Roman walls, arches, towers aqueducts and theatres, richly exquisite Arab courts and doorways, white Moorish towns, Romanesque churches and monasteries, sumptuous baroque facades, line the coast and its hinterland, a lovely palimpsest of the Mediterranean history of three thousand years. With this book Dame Rose Macaulay made her own witty, erudite, observant and poetic addition to the literature of Spain. The Spanish coastline has changed in many aspects, and not for the better, since Fabled Shore first appeared in 1949, but with her strongly developed sense of the past her learning and her humour, Rose Macaulay remains, through this bool one of the best of all companions for the visitor to Spain.
Emilie Rose Macaulay (1881-1958) was born in Rugby, Warwickshire but spent her early childhood in Italy. She was educated at Oxford High School for Girls and Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Modern History.
She wrote her first novel, Abbots Verney, in 1906, while living in Great Shelford, near Cambridge. Rose became an ardent Anglo-Catholic and, through her great childhood friendship with Rupert Brooks, was introduced to London literary society. After moving to London, in 1914 published her first book of poetry, The Two Blind Countries. In 1918 she met the novelist and former Catholic priest Gerald O'Donovan, the married man with whom she was to have an affair lasting until his death. Her final and most famous novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1956), was awarded a James Tait Black Memorial Prize and became a bestseller in America.
Rose Macaulay was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1958, but seven months later suffered a heart attack and died at her home.