Letters (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Sylvia Townsend Warner came to a literary career after first pursuing music and musicology, encouraged in this later ambition by David Garnett and T. F. Powys. A slender volume of poems in 1925, Espalier, was followed by a novel, Lolly Willowes (1926), her first but by no means last foray into the supernatural. The distance between these early productions and the last volume published in her lifetime, Kingdoms of Elfin (1977), is at once enormous and yet small. Like so many writers of the 1920’s, she showed a preference for the delicate and fanciful, which she abandoned in midcareer for a more worldly and naturalistic style, only to return to the original manner late in life. During these more than fifty years, she published seven novels, nine volumes of stories, four volumes of poetry (and a fifth in collaboration with Valentine Ackland), innumerable essays, and a brilliant biography of T. H. White. She could hardly be called a prolific writer, however, often laboring through several revisions before releasing a novel or story. Her style is marked by the utmost clarity and smoothness, music to the eye and ear, and her gift for metaphor is startling and original.
In spite of these qualities, there is nothing precious, arty, or fin de siècle in Warner’s matter or manner, although she was sensitive to people of all kinds, to nuances of gesture and emotion, and to nature. It is sensitivity, in fact, that makes her...
(The entire section is 1338 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Antioch Review. XLI, Spring, 1983, p. 251.
Boston Review. VIII, June, 1983, p. 28.
Library Journal. CVII, December 15, 1982, p. 2340.
Nation. CCXXXVI, March 19, 1983, p. 343.
New Statesman. CIV, December 3, 1982, p. 26.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVIII, April 17, 1983, p. 11.
The New Yorker. LIX, May 30, 1983, p. 98.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXII, November 19, 1982, p. 69.
Saturday Review. IX, March, 1983, p. 58.
Virginia Quarterly Review. LIX, Autumn, 1983, p. 123.
(The entire section is 55 words.)