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« Selected Poems, by Sylvia Townsend Warner, edited by Claire Harman | Main | The Corner that Didn’t Hold Them »

Thursday, 04 July 2019


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How lovely this sounds, though I can see why she thought they were sad. Interesting decision of the executors to override her desires about publication. Thanks for this review.
I've reviewed Lolly Willowes - here's the link:

Simon T (StuckinaBook)

I thought the diaries were wonderful, though so frustrating (when I was writing about Lolly Willowes for my DPhil) that she didn't start a few years earlier! It was a shame also that the weighting to different years is so uneven - but when she hits her stride, she is great. (Not as great as her letters, but she may be the greatest letter writer I've ever read.)


Harriet, I think that they didn't exactly override her desires, rather that she didn't entirely make a decision, though I could be misinterpreting this. I think as in all things she was concerned about Ackland's reputation, and Ackland doesn't always come out too well in this. But I think that Claire Harman has been very sensitive about this.

Ha, Simon, though to be fair she never seems to write much about her writing so perhaps you didn't miss much... lethe also raves about her letters, I really must read them. I was just stunned at how effortlessly she seems to dash off the most acute observations and vivid descriptions.

Actually I've now remembered my one gripe: I'd have liked a list of people mentioned in the diaries, it was sometimes hard to remember who was who.


Compared to the Letters, I also find the Diaries rather sad, or melancholy is perhaps a better word. Not at first, but strangely enough after Valentine enters her life.

Does your edition not have an index? Or do you mean a list with short biographies? The more important names get biographical footnotes which are referenced in the index.


Clearly I am highly dubious since I love writers' diaries! I'm certain I would love this one too and I'll be looking out for it. I've enjoyed all your posts this week, Helen. Thanks for hosting this event. Hopefully I have my Lolly Willowes thoughts ready soon. They will be basic: the primary thing I'm taking away from this week is what a rich writer STW was. So much to absorb!


lethe - I completely agree with that! I think it's very clear from the diaries that she loved Ackland so very much but that did often bring her pain. Also, I have the impression that living in the country isolated STW a bit, she was so very sociable in the first section, so perhaps she was a bit lonely in some ways? I think you probably know more about this than me, though!

And you are quite right, how embarrassing, there is indeed an index at the back which would have solved my problem. Yes, I did mean a list of short biographies, but that seems superfluous now.


Sandra, I am highly dubious too since I enjoy reading letters and diaries and I am desperately nosy; on the other hand I do feel guilty about reading others' private thoughts. With writers, though, I'm usually less troubled since they tend to be writing with one eye to posterity, anyway (at least, I like to think so).

I'm really looking forward to reading your thoughts on Lolly Willowes! And I am astonished at how superficial my idea of STW was before this week, but I've learnt a lot too. I'm keen to read her letters now, and Summer Will Show, and her biography of T.H. White...

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