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Edith Sitwell

Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell, DBE, born 7 September 1887, was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells.

So much has been written about Edith Sitwell that I felt there is very little new information that I can add so I will share some highlights and photos in the hopes of piquing your interest in such an unusual and interesting character.

"Sitwell had angular features resembling Queen Elizabeth I and she stood six feet tall. She often dressed in an unusual manner with gowns of brocade or velvet, with gold turbans and many rings; her jewellery is now in the jewellery galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Her unusual appearance provoked critics almost as much as her verse, and she was the subject of virulent personal attacks from Geoffrey Grigson, F.R. Leavis, and others. She gave as good as she got, describing Leavis as "a tiresome, whining, pettyfogging little pipsqueak"."



"My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence."

- Edith Sitwell



Why not be oneself? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekingese?

- Edith Sitwell



"The poet speaks to all men of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten"

- Edith Sitwell


A selection from Clowns' Houses

by Edith Sitwell

Then underneath the veiled eyes

Of house, darkness lies, --

Tall house; like a hopeless prayer

They cleave the sly dumb air.

Blind are those houses, paper thin;

Old shadows, hid therein,

With sly and crazy movements creep

Like marionettes, and weep

Tall windows show infinity;

and, hard reality,

The Candles weep and pry and dance

Like lives mocked at by chance.

The rooms are vast as sleep within;

When once I ventured in

Chill silence, like a surging sea,

Slowly enveloped me.


"I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish.

- Edith Sitwell



The Wooden Pegasus

Within your magic web of hair, lies furled

The fire and splendour of the ancient world; The dire gold of the comet's wind-blown hair; The songs that turned to gold the evening air When all the stars of heaven sang for joy.


Dame Edith Sitwell - Face to Face Interview 1959


"Her tall figure, swathed in black, looking like some strange eccentric bird... she seemed like an ageing princess come home from exile."

- Alec Guinness on her appearance at her official reception

into the Roman Catholic Church in August 1955.



Reading Recommendations & Content Considerations

by by

Victoria Glendinning Richard Greene


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