Tracy, Honor Lilbush Wingfield (1913–89), author, was born 19 October 1913 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England. Educated privately in London and in Dresden, Germany, she spent two years at the Sorbonne. She worked before the second world war as a journalist for Picture Post, joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (1939), and moved to the Ministry of Information as a Japanese specialist (1941). With the coming of peace, she moved to Dublin and worked for Sean O'Faolain (qv), subsequently her lover, on the Irish Digest, published by C. J. Fallon. After a seven-month interlude in Japan for the Observer newspaper, the result of which was Kakemon (1950), an account of the country under American occupation, she became editorial assistant to Peadar O'Donnell (qv) in The Bell. Her affair with O'Faolain ended in 1953, but Mind you, I've said nothing! (1953) is a witty account of her Irish experiences, of a Dublin with posters that proclaim Irish purity to a people queuing for American cinema. She was regarded with mixed feelings in Irish literary circles: admired for her wit, she was criticised by Hubert Butler (qv) as a self-publicist after winning a libel action against the Sunday Times. The newspaper had published her account of a Canon O'Connell's attempt to raise funds for a parish house in Doneraile, Co. Cork. O'Connell took exception and the Sunday Times printed an apology, paying £750 to charity. Tracy in turn sued the Sunday Times for damaging her professional integrity by acting without her permission. She eventually won £3,000 and costs in the London high court, and later drew on her experiences in The straight and narrow path (1956), a comic account (comparable with the quiet humour of James Stephens (qv)) of the trials of an Oxford anthropologist with the temerity to compare Irish folk beliefs to those of the Congo, who ends up in the law courts. After travelling to Spain, she recounted in Silk hats and no breakfast (1956) a journey from Algeciras to the Basque country; entering the tourist office in Malaga, she was told to leave the town immediately, as there is nothing to see. A number of things (1960) contains evidence of her skilful dialogue, as a conceited young novelist is dispatched as a journalist to the West Indies. He ends up in a carnival, paraded between a Cossack and a Native American, the kind of discordant detail that typically provides humour in her work. She published twenty-one volumes and died in Oxford, unmarried, on 13 June 1989.
Hubert Butler, ‘A house of God’, id., Escape from the anthill (1985), 122–33; David Krause (ed.), The letters of Sean O'Casey 1955–58 (1989); Times, 15 June 1989; Ir. Times, 19 June 1989; Edna Longley, The living stream (1994); Ann Owens Weekes, Unveiling treasures (1993); Sean O'Faolain, Vive moi! (1993); Maurice Harmon, Sean O'Faolain (1994)