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Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893 - 1978)

  • About
  • SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER was born in 1893, the only child of a schoolteacher, and educated at home. A talented and knowledgeable musician, in 1917 she joined the editorial board preparing the ten volumes of Tudor Church Music for publication by Oxford University Press, a post she held until 1927. In 1923 Warner met the novelist T.F. Powys, whose writing influenced her own and whose work she in turn encouraged. Warner’s first poetry collection, The Espalier, was published in 1925, followed by Time Importuned (1928), Opus 7 (1931) and Rainbow (1932). Her first novel, Lolly Willowes, was published in 1926, and Mr Fortune's Maggot a year later. It was at T.F. Powys’s house in 1930 that Warner first met the poet Valentine Ackland, whom she invited to live in a cottage that she owned in the village of Chaldon Herring in Dorset. The two women became lovers, a relationship that lasted until Ackland’s death in 1969. Their joint collection of poems Whether a Dove or Seagull was published in 1933. In 1935 Warner and Ackland joined the Communist Party, becoming active campaigners and visiting Spain on behalf of the Red Cross during the Civil War. Warner’s political engagement continued for the rest of her life, even following her disillusion with Communism. She died on 1 May 1978.






    Sylvia Townsend Warner has a page on the Poetry Archive website, where you can listen to recordings of her reading from her work, and access other useful resources. Click here.

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