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Purging Stephen Spender

Susannah Clapp, 26 October 1989

Sylvia TownsendWarnerA Biography 
by Claire Harman.
Chatto, 358 pp., £16.95, July 1989, 0 7011 2938 7
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For SylviaAn Honest Account 
by Valentine Ackland.
Chatto, 135 pp., £6.95, July 1989, 9780701135621
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... Before she was born, Sylvia TownsendWarner was called Andrew. When she was seven, her mother took against her for failing to be pretty and failing to be male; by the time she was 17 she was known to the boys of Harrow, where her father was a master, as ‘the cleverest fellow we had ...

Keeping warm

Penelope Fitzgerald, 30 December 1982

Letters of Sylvia TownsendWarner 
Chatto, 311 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 7011 2603 5Show More
The Portrait of a Tortoise 
by Gilbert White and Sylvia TownsendWarner.
Virago, 63 pp., £3.50, October 1981, 0 86068 218 8
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Sylvia TownsendWarnerCollected Poems 
edited by Claire Harman.
Carcanet, 290 pp., £9.95, July 1982, 0 85635 339 6
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Scenes of Childhood and Other Stories 
by Sylvia TownsendWarner.
Chatto, 177 pp., £6.50, September 1981, 0 7011 2516 0
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... Sylvia TownsendWarner expected her correspondence to be published, indeed she sensibly provided for it. ‘I love reading Letters myself,’ she told William Maxwell, her literary executor, ‘and I can imagine enjoying my own.’ She was born in 1893, an only child ...

Breeding

Frank Kermode, 21 July 1994

The Diaries of Sylvia TownsendWarner 
edited by Claire Harman.
Chatto, 384 pp., £25, June 1994, 0 7011 3659 6
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Sylvia and David: The Townsend Warner/Garnett Letters 
Sinclair-Stevenson, 246 pp., £20, June 1994, 1 85619 341 1Show More
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... Sylvia TownsendWarner died in 1978, aged 84. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes, appeared in 1926, and none of her later works quite matched its success. In her later years she was probably better known to most people as a name that appeared under rather than above story after story in the New Yorker; that journal published about fifty over a period of some forty years ...

The Method of Drifting

Ian Patterson: John Craske, 10 September 2015

Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske 
by Julia Blackburn.
Cape, 344 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 224 09776 5
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... Auk, Gilbert White, sea fishing, the Elephant Man, Edwardian Sheringham, Valentine Ackland and Sylvia TownsendWarner, embroidery technique, Edward Meyerstein, Walt Disney, the Norfolk Giant, the pituitary gland, diabetes, MI5, and Einstein, who stayed at a (not very) ‘secret location’ on Roughton Heath, near ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Samuel Palmer’s dream landscapes, 17 November 2005

... closer to it are the slightly spooky depths of rural England evoked by novelists like T.F. Powys, Sylvia TownsendWarner and David ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 7 September 2017

... Beaton’s portraits of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Thanks to darkroom dodging and burning, Sylvia TownsendWarner seems to glow with a pure white flame in a photograph from 1930; the Tate catalogue tells us the backdrop is satin, but it looks like Cellophane, which more than any other material meant modernity in ...

Ten Poets

Denis Donoghue, 7 November 1985

Selected Poems 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 124 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 9780856355950
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Collected Poems: 1947-1980 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 837 pp., £16.95, April 1985, 0 670 80683 8
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Instant Chronicles: A Life 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 58 pp., £4.50, April 1985, 9780019211970
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Selected Poems 
by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 596 8
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Selected Poems 
by Jeffrey Wainwright.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 598 4
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Selected Poems 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 112 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 594 1
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The Price of Stone 
by Richard Murphy.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, May 1985, 0 571 13568 4
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Selected Poems 
by Iain Crichton Smith.
Carcanet, 121 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 597 6
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Selected Poems 
by Sylvia TownsendWarner.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, April 1985, 0 85635 585 2
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From the Irish 
by James Simmons.
Blackstaff, 78 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 331 8
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... a lively, colourful selection, entirely welcome, except for one rather trivial poem about TV. Sylvia TownsendWarner was a novelist by profession and a poet at times, so she thought her poems the best of her. They are very fine, especially those which come in forms and manners which Hardy did most to establish and ...

‘Come, my friend,’ said Smirnoff

Joanna Kavenna: The radical twenties, 1 April 1999

The Radical Twenties: Aspects of Writing, Politics and Culture 
by John Lucas.
Five Leaves, 263 pp., £11.99, January 1997, 0 907123 17 1
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... writers (Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Mew, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Nancy Cunard, Katherine Mansfield, Sylvia TownsendWarner) allowed the old Victorian spinster a few escape-routes: killing off the controlling father who kept her at home (Mansfield’s ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’); investing her with ...

Downland Maniacs

Michael Mason, 5 October 1995

The Village that Died for England 
by Patrick Wright.
Cape, 420 pp., £17.99, March 1995, 0 224 03886 9
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... of Mary Butts, the Marxist version of village life offered by lesbians Valentine Ackland and Sylvia TownsendWarner, the Luddite organicism of Rolf Gardiner and the yeoman-patriotic creed of Sir Arthur Bryant (both the latter having shady pro-Nazi backgrounds). These idealists were all anti-MoD in a general ...

Just off Lexham Gardens

John Bayley, 9 January 1992

Through a Glass Darkly: The life of Patrick Hamilton 
by Nigel Jones.
Scribner, 408 pp., £18.95, December 1991, 0 356 19701 8
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... certainly not his zeal for Communism, which was sincere enough in terms of the spirit of the age (Sylvia TownsendWarner was an equally incongruous convert) but which offered to Hamilton’s inner creativity nothing in the way of an alternative world. In his time he was a genuine odd man out, rather in the sense in ...

Everybody knows

Christina Gombar: Kate Jennings, 22 August 2002

Moral Hazard 
by Kate Jennings.
Fourth Estate, 180 pp., £10, April 2002, 1 84115 737 6
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... Cath telegraphs her values to the reader through her favourite writers, who include Muriel Spark, Sylvia Townsend-Warner and Ivy Compton-Burnett: ‘they assumed intelligence – emotional as well as intellectual – on the part of the reader.’ Jennings’s style shares these writers’ brevity, directness and ...

No Tricks

Frank Kermode: Raymond Carver, 19 October 2000

Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Prose 
by Raymond Carver.
Harvill, 300 pp., £15, July 2000, 1 86046 759 8
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... London outlets, while New York still has a few, which sometimes accept British stories, as with Sylvia TownsendWarner and also, of course, Pritchett. There are many annual prizes for stories. Moreover the form fits better than the novel into the pattern of the creative writing courses that are taught all over the ...

Bloody

Michael Church, 9 October 1986

The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... watches a soldier’s lips regain colour as her blood is piped directly from her veins into his. Sylvia TownsendWarner visits the public letter-writers’ booths, ‘where men and women whose faces bear the unmistakable imprint of intellect and thought wait in a queue to dictate the letters they are not able to write ...

Convenient Death of a Hero

Arnold Rattenbury, 8 May 1997

Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp., £12.95, December 1996, 0 85036 457 4
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... Time and Theatre Today, the journals on which I worked, were the happily idiosyncratic Communists Sylvia TownsendWarner, Edgell Rickword, Patrick Hamilton, Montagu Slater, Randall Swingler and, around them, particularly in nearby pubs, such friends as Nancy Cunard, Lennox Berkeley, Roy Fuller, John Minton, Dylan ...

Reminder: Mother

Adam Mars-Jones: Helen Phillips, 2 January 2020

The Need 
by Helen Phillips.
Chatto, 272 pp., £16.99, August 2019, 978 1 78474 284 3
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... generation and a bit of women, not just Bagnold (born 1889) but Rose Macaulay (born 1881) and Sylvia TownsendWarner (born 1893). This seems especially unjust when one of them successfully addresses, as Bagnold does in The Squire, the area where Woolf is weakest – engagement with the body, unintellectualised ...

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