I did very little research for Gothic Spring as I lived its life, to a degree. In the 1960s, when I was in my early twenties, I drifted to England and found a teaching position in the Midlands of England -- a dreary little industrial town in the middle of the Derbyshire moors. The place was called Leek which I quickly amended to “bleak” Leek. Here was the dark geography made famous by Thomas Hardy – Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure and the like. In that red brick factory town, soot fell from the chimneys like a grey snow, clinging to the air and giving it an oily pungency. Needless to say, the experience left its impression. From these memories, Gothic Spring was born.
The theme of the story came from my work in the woman’s liberation movement. Joining the efforts of other women to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, I observed the many ways women interacted with each other, not all of them good. I saw jealousies and power struggles which impeded and then scuttled any hope of success. Victorine Ellsworth, the central character of Gothic Spring struggles against the same roiling emotions, but in a repressive Victorian society. Her guardian aunt smothers her; her former teacher wishes to liberate her but the older woman’s ego gets in the way and the Vicar’s wife is suspicious of this beautiful, young girl. Gothic Spring isn’t an idea I invented but an experience which was foisted upon me.