As a fine novelist, critic and biographer Catherine Carswell led a passionate and various life, full of intellectual commitment and a wide range of social interests. She worked on this original, modest and yet richly remarkable autobiography over a number of years, coming back to it again and again, almost as an act of meditation. The younger daughter of a Glasgow shipping merchant, Catherine Macfarlane studied music in Frankfurt before returning to Glasgow and then moving to London where she worked as a literary and dramatic reviewer and met her second husband, Donald Carswell, and a wide circle of literary and cultural figures, including a succession of Soviet ambassadors, Lady Tweedsmuir and D.H. Laurence. In fact she became one of Laurence's close friends, and it was he who encouraged her to write her first novel, Open the Door!, based on her own background and a sense of growing social and spiritual independence. Carswell's interests and enthusiasms encompassed (among others) Herzen, Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Rabelais, Burns and Boccaccio, but Lying Awake is the distillation of her thoughts on her own life and indeed on the nature of identity and autobiography itself. Left unfinished when she died in 1946, the manuscript was edited by her son John and has not been reprinted since it was first published in 1950.

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