â€œSylvia is dark, lean and eager with rather frizzy hair. She wears spectacles and her face is constantly lighting up with amusement and intelligence and the desire to interrupt what I am saying and to cap it with something much wittier of her ownâ€ŚShe cannot restrain herself from snatching my uncompleted sentence from my mouth and giving it a much better ending.â€? -David Garnett
Sylvia Townsend Warner Early Life
Born Dec 6, 1893, Harrow on The Hill, London, England. No formal education, home schooled
Music Composition- expert on the history of musical notation- Carnegie UK Trust Tudor Church Music 1919-1929+
First two-volumes of Poetry & Novels
Lolly Willowes Mr. Fortune's Maggot
1927 Valentine Ackland 1930’s Life Partners and settled in West England ◦ Continued their writing and joined the communist party of Great Britain.
1939 Women's Volunteer Service The Cat's Cradle Book (1940)
A Garland of Straw (1943).
In her life, Warner only had one female partner, Valentine Ackland. Ackland was born Mary Kathleen Valentine Ackland on May 20, 1906. English poet Changed her name in the mid 20’s to the androgynous Valentine. Warner was twelve years Ackland’s senior. At the time of their meeting, Ackland had just gotten out of an unhappy marriage and was recuperating from an abortion.
Together they published a collection of poems, Whether a Dove or a Seagull” in 1934.
They were very involved in politics.
They remained together until Ackland’s from breast cancer on November 9th, 1969.
Sylvia Townsend Warner Politics of her life
The Beginning In 1933 Valentine becomes interested in the doings of the Nazi Regime leading to Sylvia’s introduction to Communism. 1935 the women are admitted into the Communist Party of Great Britain In 1936 Sylvia is elected Secretary of the Dorset Peace Council
Spanish Civil War In 1936, Sylvia and Valentine go to Barcelona to aid in the Spanish Civil War. Sylvia becomes Secretary of the Women’s Voluntary Service She also gives many lectures on a range of subjects. 1937, the women were invited to the 2 nd annual International Congress of Writers in Defense of Culture.
The women return to London in 1945. In 1953, Stalin dies. Sylvia remained a strong supported of Communism for the rest of her life. Although what she knew of him is “impossible to ascertain.” At the end of her activism, Valentine had become adverse to Communism, while Sylvia defended it as strongly as before, claiming newspapers reports were simply “propaganda.”
Poems Novels Short stories Biographies Editor Translator
The New Yorker ◦ Introduced her to American audiences
Summer Will Show (1936) ◦ Comparisons to Well of Loneliness, Orlando, etc.