Cecily Rosemary Hallack, the well-known authoress, died on Sunday, October 23, at the Mount Alverna Nursing Home, Guildford, after many months of acute suffering as the result of a serious operation for a tumour on the brain from which she never recovered.
She was a vital personality and her death will be mourned by a large circle of friends —many of whom only knew her from her writings and by correspondence. Cecily Hallack was the daughter of a Congregational minister, and was born in Sussex forty years ago. She loved her native county quite as much as Hilaire Belloc and Sheila Kaye Smith, and it was seldom if ever that she did not make it. the scene of her novels and stories in later years.
She became a Catholic at the age of twenty, and was received into the Church at Farm Street. Her conversion changed the whole future of her life. It may be said, without any exaggeration that henceforth she devoted herself, body and soul, to the spread of the Catholic faith in whatever way that lay open to her. Like many another ardent convert, she thought she had a vocation to the religious state, but chronic ill health prevented the realisation of this desire. Eventually, she joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and never was there a more enthusiastic tertiary, or one who lived up to both the letter and spirit of the Rule.
During her twenty years as a writer she produced an amazing amount of work, not all of it of an even quality, as she herself was always the first to admit. Some of it was very good indeed, and is likely to take a permanent place in Catholic literature. Has any modern writer ever surpassed those descriptions of the Boy Scouts in Beardless Counsellors? This was her first book and appeared in 1923.
Other stories—The Sunny Wall, Sword Blade for Michael, Mirror for Toby and The Bliss of the Way, followed in quick succession, winning for their author a definite place in Catholic fiction. It is doubtful of Miss Hallack was quite so successful with her adult characters as with her children, and some of her later writings showed signs of haste and weariness.
Adventure of the Amethyst, which appeared in 1937, was her opus magnum in every sense of the word. It was an ambitious matter to try to combine into one volume a long story about a family of boys and girls with a detailed exposition of Catholic doctrine. Only those who were in personal relations with the writer can realise the amount of labour she put into the preparation of this book, and how careful she was to ensure accuracy in theological statements.
Writing came easily to Cecily Hallack, yet at the same time, being entirely dependent on hard-won fees from editors and publishers for a means of livelihood, she had to go on turning out copy. Much of what she wrote, especially for missionary magazines, was a labour of love, and editors of such periodicals took full advantage of her generosity. Any profits she made were given away in charity, with the result that after the expenses of her operation had been met, her friends discovered that she was little better than a pauper. Since it was extremely doubtful when she would he strong enough to resume her former means of livelihood an appeal was made on her behalf. The generous response to this from all parts of the world was more than sufficient proof of how her writings were
*literary work was a series of
articles dealing with the Legion of Mary which appeared in the Catholic Fireside. She hoped to follow these up with a book devoted to the spirit and work of the Legion. but it was never completed, nor was another volume concerning the saints of the Third Order of St. Francis—the latter put aside again and again for the sake of more remunerative jobs.
The funeral took place at the Franciscan Church at Crawley yesterday, October 27. Cecily Hallack had a great affection for this little church belonging to the Capuchin Franciscans. and had often expressed the wish to be buried in the cemetery which adjoins it. May she rest in peace.
PETER F. ANSON,