Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jane Shaw Encyclopedia: Mrs. Carmichael

Mrs. Carmichael is the deceased mother of Charlotte, Midge and Bill Carmichael, wife of Dr. Charles Carmichael and sister-in-law of Margot Lyle and Lucy Carmichael. She is only referred to in the stories as having passed away when Bill, her youngest child, was very young. Very little information is provided about her. She studied at St. Ronan’s and was in St. George’s House. She probably studied with Lucy and Margot and it is likely that they introduced her to her future husband during visits to their home during the school holidays. All the children appear to have come to terms with her passing and the hole that she left in their lives is partially filled by Aunt Lucy. It is likely that the author decided that the Carmichael children would have no mother to enable their household to be run by an “eccentric” Aunt Lucy, as Lucy’s behavior in Susan Pulls the Strings would be more acceptable coming from an aunt than a mother. However, the concept of an eccentric Aunt Lucy soon fell away and she became a more “sensible” maternal figure, and in the subsequent books the absence of the children’s birth mother was always quickly explained away in the opening pages. The cause of Mrs. Carmichael’s death is not given, nor is her first name, although it was possibly Margaret.