~ The Rector’s Daughter ~


“I wish you would tell me something about love. I should think no one ever reached my age and knew so little, except of love in books.”

The Rector’s Daughter is the story of Mary Jocelyn, a woman who fears life is passing her by. Having lost her mother and her beloved invalid sister, Mary shares her days in sleepy Dedmayne with her father, the severe and distant Canon Jocelyn. Then, with the arrival in the village of Robert Herbert, her quiet, ordered existence is changed forever.

First published in 1924, The Rector’s Daughter was praised by E.M. Forster, who wrote to the author: “Mary Jocelyn begins as ridiculous and ends as dignified: this seemed to me a very great achievement.” In recent years it has been hailed as a forgotten classic. Now, for the first time, it is available to a new generation of readers in digital form.

  • Based on the text published in 1924, this is the first digital edition of The Rector’s Daughter
  • Edited and corrected text
  • Accompanied by a brief Note on the Text, embedded explanatory notes and Links to Further Reading

“Kathy of course laughed at Mary, she laughed at most people, with a kind of rough chaff. Her favourite subject was Mary’s spinsterhood. Her good-humoured wonder, tinged with contempt, at a woman who had reached Mary’s age, and remained unmarried because she could not help it, was much less aggravating to Mary than it would have been to any one more vain. Mary derived some amusement from it. But one day Kathy exceeded the bounds. She greeted her with ‘Cheer up. I hear you made a conquest once, after all.’”


“Flora Mary Mayor’s The Rector’s Daughter . . . is one of the great lost novels of the twentieth century – an immensely subtle portrait of a faded thirty-something spinster, sat upon by her Olympian father . . . The book fairly seethes with suppressed passion while conveying a dreadful sense of lives going to waste under the bleak East Anglian sky. I can’t recommend it highly enough.” – D.J. TaylorGuardian

“The most exquisitely written, delicate, passionately felt and haunting book I have ever read.” – Elizabeth Buchan

The Rector’s Daughter is a masterpiece . . . it is about love; filial love and married love and extreme sexual passion, and about the anguish, despair and intermittent bliss of every hopeless relationship between man and woman.” – Susan HillDaily Telegraph

The Rector’s Daughter is heartbreaking – not a term I use lightly.” – Rachel CookeObserver 

“It is a remarkable book and confirms you in your remarkable rank.” – John Masefield, letter to the author

“It is the daughter, Mary Jocelyn, who makes the book particularly memorable. She is my favourite character in contemporary fiction: favourite in that she is completely real to me, deeply moving, evoking as vivid and valid a sense of sympathy, pity, and admiration as do the Brontë sisters each time I live with them and through them again in the pages of Mrs. Gaskell’s biography.” – Rosamond Lehmann


F.M. Mayor (1872–1932) was the daughter of an Anglican clergyman. She studied history at Newnham College, Cambridge, and became an actress before taking up writing. As well as The Rector’s Daughtershe published three other novels and a collection of short stories.

Purchase The Rector’s Daughter here.

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