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Encyclopedia > Edith Sitwell
Edith Sitwell

Portrait of Sitwell by Roger Fry
Born: 7 September 1887
Scarborough, England
Died: 9 December 1964
London, England
Occupation: Poet
Nationality: United Kingdom

Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell DBE (7 September 18879 December 1964) was a British poet and critic. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... River with Poplars, circa 1912, Tate Gallery. ... is the 250th day of the year (251st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1887 (MDCCCLXXXVII) is a common year starting on Saturday (click on link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. ... The South Bay at Scarborough Scarborough lies on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England. ... is the 343rd day of the year (344th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1964 (MCMLXIV) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1964 calendar). ... London — containing the City of London — is the capital of the United Kingdom and of England and a major world city. With over seven million inhabitants (Londoners) in Greater London area, it is amongst the most densely populated areas in Western Europe. ... For the album by the Kaiser Chiefs see Employment (album) Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. ... The poor poet A poet is a person who writes poetry. ... In English usage, nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. ... The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by King George V. The Order includes five classes in civil and military divisions; in decreasing order of seniority, these are Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GBE) Knight Commander... is the 250th day of the year (251st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1887 (MDCCCLXXXVII) is a common year starting on Saturday (click on link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. ... is the 343rd day of the year (344th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1964 (MCMLXIV) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1964 calendar). ... The poor poet A poet is a person who writes poetry. ...

Contents

Background

Edith Sitwell was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, the first daughter of the aristocratic but eccentric Sir George Sitwell, 4th Baronet, an expert on genealogy and landscaping; and ex-socialite eighteen-year-old Lady Ida Emily Augusta Denison, daughter of the Earl of Londesborough and granddaughter of Henry Somerset, 7th Duke of Beaufort of Renishaw Hall. She claimed a descent through female lines from the Plantagenets. The South Bay at Scarborough Scarborough lies on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England. ... Look up Yorkshire in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... The Most Noble Sir Major Henry Somerset, 7th Duke of Beaufort KG (February 5, 1792–November 17, 1853) was a British peer, soldier and the son of Henry Somerset, 6th Duke of Beaufort. ... Renishaw Hall, the family home of the Sitwells for over 350 years, dates from the 17th century. ... Angevin is the name applied to two distinct medieval dynasties which originated as counts (from 1360, dukes) of the western French province of Anjou (of which angevin is the adjectival form), but later came to rule far greater areas including England, Hungary and Poland (see Angevin Empire). ...


She had two younger brothers, Osbert (1892-1969) and Sacheverell Sitwell (1897-1988) both distinguished authors, well-known literary figures in their own right, and long-term collaborators. Sacheverell married a Canadian woman, Georgia Doble in 1925 and moved to Weston Hall in Northamptonshire. Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell, 5th Baronet, (December 6, 1892 – May 4, 1969) was an English writer. ... Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, 6th Baronet CH (November 15, 1897–October 1, 1988) was an English writer, best known as an art critic and writer on architecture, particularly the baroque. ...


Her relationship with her parents was stormy at best, not least because of her father made her undertake a "cure" for her supposed spinal deformation--involving locking her into an iron frame. In her later autobiography, she said that her parents had always been strangers to her. Cover of the first English edition of 1793 of Benjamin Franklins autobiography. ...


In 1912, 25-year-old Sitwell moved to a small, shabby fourth-floor flat in Pembridge Mansions, Bayswater, which she shared with Helen Rootham (1875-1938): Sitwell's governess ever since 1903. Bayswater is an area of London in the City of Westminster. ... A governess is a female employee from outside of the family who teaches children within the family circle. ...


Edith never married. However, it is claimed that in 1927 she fell in love with the homosexual Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew. The relationship with Tchelitchew lasted until 1928; the same year when Helen Rootham underwent operations for cancer, eventually becoming an invalid. In 1932, Rootham and Sitwell moved to Paris, where they lived with Rootham’s younger sister, Evelyn Wiel. Rootham died of spinal cancer in 1938. Categories: Stub | 1898 births | 1957 deaths ...


Sitwell's mother died in 1937. Sitwell did not attend the funeral because of her displeasure with her parents during her childhood.


During World War II, Sitwell returned from France and retired to Renishaw with her Osbert and his lover David Horner. She wrote under the light of oil lamps when the lights of England were out of service. She knitted clothes for their friends who served in the army. One of the beneficiaries was young Alec Guinness, who received a pair of seaboot stockings. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Sir Alec Guinness CH, CBE, KBE (April 2, 1914 – August 5, 2000) was an Academy Award and Tony Award-winning British actor who became one of the most versatile and best-loved performers of his generation. ...


The poems she wrote during the war brought her back before a public. They include Street Songs (1942), The Song of the Cold (1945) and The Shadow of Cain (1947), all of which were much praised; Still Falls the Rain, about the London blitz, remains perhaps her best-known poem (it was set to music by Benjamin Britten as Canticle III: Still Falls the Rain). Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten, OM CH (November 22, 1913 Lowestoft, Suffolk - December 4, 1976 Aldeburgh, Suffolk) was a British composer, conductor, and pianist. ...


In 1943, her father died in Switzerland, his wealth depleted. In 1948, a reunion with Tchelitchew, whom she had not seen since before the war, went badly.


In 1948 Sitwell toured the United States with her brothers, reciting her poetry and, notoriously, giving a reading of Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking scene. Her poetry recitals were always occasions; she made recordings of her poems, including two recordings of Façade, the first with Constant Lambert as co-narrator, and the second with Peter Pears. Façade is a series of poems by Edith Sitwell. ... Leonard Constant Lambert (August 23, 1905 – August 21, 1951) was a British composer and conductor. ... Sir Peter Neville Luard Pears (June 22, 1910 – April 3, 1986) was an English tenor and life-long partner of the composer Benjamin Britten. ...


Tchelitchew died in April 1957. Her brother Osbert died of Parkinson's disease, diagnosed in 1950. In 1954, Sitwell became a Dame Commander, - DBE in 1954. In 1955, Sitwell converted to Roman Catholicism. The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by King George V. The Order includes five classes in civil and military divisions; in decreasing order of seniority, these are Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GBE) Knight Commander... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ...


Sitwell wrote two books about Queen Elizabeth I of England, Fanfare for Elizabeth (1946) and The Queens and the Hive (1962). Though she always claimed that she wrote prose simply for money, both these books were extremely successful, as were her English Eccentrics (1933) and Victoria of England (1936). Elizabeth I redirects here. ...


Around 1957 she was confined to a wheelchair. Her last poetry reading was in 1962. She died of cerebral haemorrhage at St. Thomas’s Hospital on December 9, 1964 at the age of 77. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A cerebral hemorrhage is a condition in the brain in which a blood vessel leaks. ...


Poetry

Sitwell published her first poem The Drowned Suns in the Daily Mirror in 1913 and between 1916 and 1921 she edited Wheels, an annual poetic anthology drawn up in collaboration with her brothers as a literary clique generally called the Sitwells. Alternate newspaper: The Daily Mirror (Australia) The Daily Mirror is a popular British tabloid daily newspaper. ... From left: Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964), Sir George Sitwell, Lady Ida, Sacheverell Sitwell (1897-1988), and Osbert Sitwell (1892-1969). ...


In 1929 she published Gold Coast Customs, a poem about the artificiality of human behaviour and the barbarism that lies beneath the surface. The poem was written in the rhythms of the tom-tom and of jazz, and shows considerable technical skill. Her early work reflects the strong influence of the French Symbolists. A tom-tom (not to be confused with a tamtam) is a cylindrical drum with no snare. ... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ... La mort du fossoyeur by Carlos Schwabe is a visual compendium of Symbolist motifs. ...


She became a proponent and supporter of innovative trends in English poetry and opposed what she considered the conventionalism of many contemporary backward-looking poets. Her flat became a meeting place for young writers who she wished to befriend and help: these later included Dylan Thomas and Denton Welch. She also helped to publish the poetry of Wilfred Owen after his death. Dylan Thomas Dylan Marlais Thomas (October 27, 1914 – November 9, 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer. ... (Maurice) Denton Welch (1915-1948) was an English writer and painter, admired for his vivid prose and precise descriptions. ... Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, MC (March 18, 1893 – November 4, 1918) was a British poet and soldier, regarded by many as the leading poet of the First World War. ...


Her only novel, I Live under a Black Sun, based on the life of Jonathan Swift, was published in 1937. Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift (November 30, 1667 – October 19, 1745) was an Irish cleric, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for Whigs then for Tories), and poet, famous for works like Gullivers Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, The Drapiers Letters, The Battle of the Books, and...


Publicity and controversy

Sitwell had angular features resembling Queen Elizabeth I (they also shared the same birthday) and standing 6' (183 cm) tall, but mainly because she often dressed in an unusual manner with gowns of brocade or velvet with gold turbans and a plethora of rings - her jewellery may be seen in the jewellery galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Her unusual appearance provoked critics almost as much as her verse, and throughout her life she was the subject of more or less virulent personal attacks from Geoffrey Grigson, F. R. Leavis and others, which she returned with vigour. As she lay dying, the critic Julian Symons published the last of these attacks in The London Magazine of November 1964, accusing her of 'wearing other people's bleeding hearts on her own safe sleeve.' Her 'enemies' were treated with scorn; after Noel Coward wrote a skit on Sitwell and her two brothers as The Swiss Family Whittlebot for his 1922 revue London Calling she refused to speak to him until they were reconciled after her triumphant 70th birthday party at London's Festival Hall. To her friends she showed great sweetness and invariable kindness. Elizabeth I redirects here. ... Brocade can stands for: thick heavy fabric into which raised patterns have been woven. ... Velvet is a type of tufted fabric in which the cut threads are very evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it its distinct feel. ... A Sikh man wearing a turban The turban (from the Persian , dulband via the Turkish ) is a headdress consisting of a long scarf-like single piece of cloth wound round the head or an inner hat. ... The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A) in London is the worlds largest and finest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a collection of over 4 million objects. ... Geoffrey Grigson (2nd March 1905 - 1985) was an English writer. ... Frank Raymond Leavis (July 14, 1895 - April 14, 1978) was an influential British literary critic of the early-to-mid-twentieth century. ... Julian Gustave Symons (1912 - 1994) was a British writer, best known for crime fiction. ... Sir Noël Peirce Coward (December 16, 1899 – March 26, 1973) was an English actor, playwright, and composer of popular music. ... London Calling is a double album released by The Clash in December 1979, in the UK and the first week of January 1980 in the U.S. The album marked the bands critical and commercial breakthrough. ...


Sitwell was most interested by the distinction between poetry and music, a matter explored in Façade (1922), which was set to music by William Walton, a series of abstract poems the rhythms of which counterfeited those of music. Façade was performed behind a curtain with a hole in the mouth of a painted face and the words were recited through the hole with the aid of a megaphone. The public received the first performance with bemusement, but there were many positive reactions. The Chinese poem Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain by Emperor Gaozong (Song Dynasty) Poetry (from the Greek , poiesis, a making or creating) is a form of art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its ostensible meaning. ... Façade is a series of poems by Edith Sitwell. ... Sir William Turner Walton, OM (March 29, 1902–March 8, 1983) was a British composer whose style was influenced by the works of Stravinsky, Sibelius and jazz. ... A megaphone, with a three-inch lighter to scale. ...


References in popular culture

  • In 1991, Morrissey appropriated Sitwell's image for use as a stage backdrop and t-shirt design during his "Kill Uncle" tour.
  • Sitwell is among many celebrities mentioned in Tim Curry's 1979 song I Do the Rock, which also mentions her brothers.
  • In Dorothy Hewett's "Chapel Perilous," the protagonist, Sally Banner, proclaims, "I want to be a second Edith Sitwell."
  • Robert Hunter drew on Sitwell's poem "Polka" in writing the lyric to the Grateful Dead's "China Cat Sunflower."
  • In Tama Janowitz's novel "By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee," the narrator uses "Edith Sitwell" as a euphemism for the female genitalia.
  • Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods contains a diatribe by the character Sam, where she states that she believes that "Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis" were the greatest poets of the last century
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Aspects of Love" has a scene where a GEORGE is being sculpted by GIULETTA, who quips "Still, George! If you can't keep your tongue still, You will have the face of Edith Sitwell!"
  • The song "I Don't Care" by Shakespear's Sister contains a quotation from Sitwell's poem "Hornpipe".
  • In Saul Bellow's 1973 novel "Humboldt's Gift", the narrator describes his mistress' mother, the Señora, sitting "in her wimple like Edith Sitwell".
  • In the opera "Game of Chance" the second knitter refers to "I'd rather have been an Edith Sitwell."

Steven Patrick Morrissey (born May 22, 1959) is an English singer and songwriter from Davyhulme, near Manchester. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... American Gods is a novel by Neil Gaiman. ... Fahey and Detroit on the cover of the Hormonally Yours album Shakespears Sister (sometimes written with the apostrophe) was a band consisting of Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit. ...

Poetry collections

Wikisource
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Edith Sitwell
  • Clowns' Houses (1918)
  • Rustic Elegies (1927)
  • Gold Coast Customs (1929)
  • The Song of the Cold (1948)
  • Façade, and Other Poems 1920-1935 (1950)
  • Gardeners and Astronomers (1953)
  • Collected Poems (1957)
  • The Outcasts (1962).

Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ...

Other books

  • Alexander Pope (1930)
  • The English Eccentrics (1933)
  • I Live under a Black Sun (1937)
  • Fanfare for Elizabeth (1946) (biography of Elizabeth I)
  • The Queens and the Hive (1962) (biography of Elizabeth I)

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Edith Sitwell
  • [1] "Edith Sitwell: A Nearly Forgotten Poetess"
  • [2] Brief biography at CatholicAuthors
  • [3] The Sitwell Family
  • [4] "Heart and Mind"
  • [5] Sitwell at the Lied and Art Songs Text Page

  Results from FactBites:
 
Dame Edith Sitwell Collection (4183 words)
Guinness, Alec, 1914- --94.11 (29 to and 1 from Sitwell)
Kyle, Galloway, 1871- --96.4 (1 to and 1 from Sitwell)
Stevenson, Quentin--101.2 (22 to and 30 from Sitwell)
Edith Sitwell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1066 words)
Edith Sitwell was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, the first daughter of the aristocratic but eccentric Sir George Sitwell, 4th Baronet, an expert on genealogy and landscaping; and ex-socialite eighteen-year-old Lady Ida, daughter of the Earl of Londesborough and granddaughter of the Duke of Beaufort of Renishaw Hall.
Sitwell published her first poem The Drowned Suns in the Daily Mirror in 1913 and between 1916 and 1921 she edited Wheels, an annual poetic anthology drawn up in collaboration with her brothers as a literary clique generally called the Sitwells.
Sitwell was most interested by the distinction between poetry and music, a matter explored in the poem Façade (1922), which was set to music by William Walton, in a series of abstract poems the rhythms of which counterfeited those of music.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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