25 MARCH 1995, Page 35

Charlotte Alone

It's at this time I most think of her, Peaky, no longer young, as year after year She tried to go on as normal, walking quickly, stopping To comfort some parishioner, purportedly shopping That overhanging street. It could not have been Much of a belly laugh living with all that she'd seen Decimate her dear ones, her dotty red-haired brother, Shy freckled intelligent sisters, one after another Shrivelling away then dying. Yet somehow she carried on Sailing along there smiling, as though everyone Were equally precious now. Of course there was fame.

At least some money at last, too, though it was not the same With no one to share it with. Small wonder she lost heart, Deserted poetry, found it painful to start New novels, finally left it to a Dissenter's wife To finish off that last — searing — book, her life.

Eddie Flintoff