What Not

What Not

A Prophetic Comedy

Rose Macaulay


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Hastily withdrawn from publication shortly after its controversial release in 1918, only to be reissued in 1919, What Not’s initial momentum was squashed. Now republished for the first time with the suppressed pages reinstated, What Not is a lost classic of feminist protest at social engineering, and rage at media manipulation.

Kitty Grammont and Nicholas Chester are in love. Kitty is certified as an A for breeding purposes, but politically ambitious Chester has been uncertificated, and may not marry. Kitty wields power as a senior civil servant in the Ministry of Brains, which makes these classifications, but does not have the freedom to marry who she wants. They ignore the restrictions and carry on a discreet affair. But it isn’t discreet enough for the media: the popular press, determined to smash the brutal regime of the Ministry of Brains, has found out about Kitty and Chester, and scents an opportunity for a scandalous exposure.

Aldous Huxley was a frequent guest at Macaulay’s flat while she was writing What Not. Fourteen years later, his Brave New World borrowed many of Macaulay’s ideas for Huxley’s own prophetic vision.


Rose Macaulay:
Dame Rose Macaulay was a British literary figure and intellectual who published from 1906 to 1958. She is most famous for her 1956 Anglo-Catholic novel The Towers of Trebizond, and was also a notable radio critic, linguist and scholar of architecture.