May Sinclair was the pseudonym of Mary Amelia St. Clair (24 August 1863 - 14 November 1946), a popular British writer who wrote about two dozen novels, short stories and poetry. She was an active suffragist, and member of the Woman Writers' Suffrage League. She was also a significant critic, in the area of modernist poetry and prose; the literary term 'stream of consciousness' is attributed to her.
She was born in Rock Ferry, Cheshire. Her father was a Liverpool shipowner, who went bankrupt, became an alcoholic, and died before she was an adult. Her mother was strict and religious; the family moved to Ilford on the edge of London. After one year of education at Cheltenham Ladies College, she acted as carer for her brothers (four of five, all older and all suffering from a fatal congenital heart disease).
From 1896 she wrote professionally, to support herself and her mother, who died in 1901. She treated a number of themes relating to the position of women, and marriage. She also wrote non-fiction based on studies of philosophy, particularly German idealism. Her works sold well in the United States.
Around 1913, at the Medico-Psychological Clinic in London, she became interested in psychoanalytic thought, and introduced matter related to Sigmund Freud's teaching in her novels. In 1914, she volunteered to join the Munro Ambulance Corps, a charitable organization (which included Lady Dorothie Feilding, Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm) that would bring aid to wounded Belgian soldiers on the Western Front in Flanders. Due to shell shock, she was able to endure only a few weeks at the front; she wrote about the experience in both prose and poetry.
She wrote early criticism on Imagism and the poet H. D. (1915 in The Egoist); she was on social terms with H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Richard Aldington and Ezra Pound at the time. She also reviewed in a positive light the poetry of T. S. Eliot (1917 in the Little Review) and the fiction of Dorothy Richardson (1918 in The Egoist). It was in connection with Richardson that she introduced 'stream of consciousness' as a literary term, which was very generally adopted. Some aspects of Sinclair's subsequent novels have been traced as influenced by modernist techniques, particularly in the autobiographical Mary Olivier: A Life (1919). She was included in the 1925 Contact Collection of Contemporary Writers.
She was a member of the Society for Psychical Research from 1914. Some supernatural fiction devices appear in her shorter fiction.
From the late 1920s she was suffering from the early signs of Parkinson's disease, and ceased writing. She settled with a companion in Buckinghamshire in 1932.
- Nakiketas and other poems (1886) as Julian Sinclair
- Essays in Verse (1892)
- Audrey Craven (1897)
- Mr and Mrs Nevill Tyson (1897) also The Tysons
- Two Sides Of A Question (1901)
- The Divine Fire (1904)
- The Helpmate (1907)
- The Judgment of Eve (1907) stories
- The Immortal Moment (1908)
- Outlines of Church History by Rudolf Sohm (1909) translator
- The Creators (1910)
- The Flaw in the Crystal (1912)
- The Three Brontes (1912)
- Feminism (1912) pamphlet for Women’s Suffrage League
- The Combined Maze (1913)
- The Three Sisters (1914)
- The Return of the Prodigal (1914)
- A Journal of Impressions in Belgium (1915)
- The Belfry (1916)
- Tasker Jevons: The Real Story (1916)
- The Tree of Heaven (1917)
- A Defense of Idealism : Some Questions & Conclusions (1917)
- Mary Olivier: A Life (1919)
- The Romantic (1920)
- Mr. Waddington of Wyck (1921)
- Life and Death of Harriett Frean (1922)
- Anne Severn and the Fieldings (1922)
- The New Idealism (1922)
- Uncanny Stories (1923)
- A Cure of Souls (1924)
- The Dark Night: A Novel in Unrhymed Verse (1924)
- Arnold Waterlow (1924)
- The Rector of Wyck (1925)
- Far End (1926)
- The Allinghams (1927)
- History of Anthony Waring (1927)
- Fame (1929)
- Tales Told by Simpson (1930) stories
- The Intercessor, and Other Stories (1931)
- Theophilus Ernest Martin Boll (1973) Miss May Sinclair: Novelist; A Biographical and Critical Introduction
- Suzanne Raitt (2000) May Sinclair: A Modern Victorian