As well as writing the biography, LeFanu was keeping a detailed journal of her research trips and her processes as a biographer, arguing with herself over what to include, what to pursue, and what to leave behind. Her immersion in her research led to Rose intruding in her dreams, and fantastical imaginings of what Rose would say or do, at each fork in the road. Dreaming of Rose is a remarkable record of the art of biography, and the search for another woman’s life. Research trips to Varazze in Italy to look for Rose’s childhood, and to Trabzon in Turkey to find traces of The Towers of Trebizond, were remarkably intuitive ventures that found treasures in unexpected places.
Dreaming of Rose is also a memoir of a woman juggling the demands of teaching, research and writing while patching together a living. LeFanu’s work on Rose was squeezed in between many other commitments and responsibilities: she wrote for the BBC and taught creative writing and English literature. Suffused with the tensions and dramas of everyday life, and the necessity for intellectual integrity, this is an important memoir of women and writing.