05 September 2009

birth of a Dame

In honor of a favorite English Eccentric: EDITH SITWELL

September 7 1886- December 9 1964

anaglyph image from Kathy Fernleigh- here

"The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth.
Dame Edith Sitwell

from Sitwell's autobiography, Taken Care Of, the Dame talks about her childhood pet, Peaky, a ravishing Peacock nonetheless. Her childhood was an unhappy one- the first child and a girl at that- She was a disappointment to her parents, especially her mother who bemoaned the child's strange appearance. An augur of the woman Edith became, her bond with the peacock continued until a female bird was purchased for Edith's pet. Jilted. For a while though, the peacock would await Edith's appearance and shriek at her with delight and accompany her for a stroll in the gardens. Edith wrapped her arm around the peacock's neck-

"I would go to the garden and we would walk, you might say, arm in arm. When asked why I loved him so, I answered, 'Because he's beautiful, and be cause he wears a crown!' "
"If it had not been for his crown, which made him slightly larger than me, we would have been the same height." es

An Indian Tale for Little Edith

the Princess & the Peacock

image (here)

Read more about Dame Edith Sitwell:

Genius in a Wimple TIME magazine 1955

Strictly old skool! guardian.co.uk

september 7 is also the Birthday of friend Sanford Peele-
who died December 15th, 2008
happy birthday SP

september 7 is also the Birthday of my grandfather George Joseph Cushwa
who died september 10, 1944


  1. If you'll forgive my pedantry, the photographer's name is Jane Bown. An easy mistake to make, as I discovered to my cost one time when doing a book design. At least web pages can be easily corrected!

  2. Love the Time review (why can I not find the author?)..."sometimes shows her age, often her temper, and always her talent." Great way to age...Trish

  3. John, No, I thank you and welcome it. I should wear my bifocals when doing these. I keep a magnifying glass by the computer. Thanks, Thanks, and for stopping by. G.

  4. gosh, i worship her!

    what was it diana vreeland said about edith and gertrude stein?!

    check out my sitwelliana ... i have an almost complete collection of mostly first editions by edith, osbert and sacheverell from argosy and the strand.

    ps i became obsessed with the sitwells at 12 after our parents forced us to tour renishaw hall. great fun. thanks, la!

  5. Trish- Isn't that the truth. I thought both of the articles were intriguing I thought/not sure about the author. G

  6. "The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth." So apropos to the current health care debate, no?

  7. I fear to confess Edith and I never crossed paths before, but if Yeats who used to write his poetry while tapping a cane on the floor like a poetical metronome and who hated hearing his poetry read, not almost sung, says bravo to the girl, I say yes! and will have to delve deeper.

    Always and again struck by genius having to live in mental and emotional squalor of one's family and peers.

    And finally while April, it has been said by the poet, is the cruelest month of all, September lays its beginnings with the signs of coming death and no way to stem the tide. In remembrance of your beloveds, who began and ended on a September's day, I send my thoughts to you. Apparently, cyberspace concurs my word verification: neuroph!

  8. Paul- I am with you at the altar. Fascinating, prickly, and a complete eccentric. I am going to study your sitwelliana. I found a few late portraits of them in photography books- Though you may have them, when I scan them I will send them your way. G

  9. Rebecca, I thought the very same, in fact this is why I included it- though it wasn't the dovetail quote I might have wanted with the post- It couldn't be more appropriate for the times. G

  10. Home, that is so true about the creativity and brilliance that breeds in emotional squalor. The Dame should be pictured in Webster's as the defining-eccentric. I meant to check youtube to see if there is a recording of her reading. Thank you for your kind words- I will especially miss SP, and of course the loss of not knowing a grandfather my mother still remembers vividly though she lost him when she was 13.G.

  11. hey,The dame reminds me of our grandmother nosewise, don't you think?

  12. Antonio- many thanks,I am now a fan of yours as well.

  13. Anonny-yes I think the very same, a very patrician one she had.

  14. I saw a woman in an Edith Sitwell t-shirt and I said, "Love the Edith Sitwell shirt." She became rather indignant and said, "No one knows who Edith Sitwell is!" I beg to differ. She was obviously hanging out with the WRONG crowd. Too bad there is no Sitwell Family cookbook, though Sacheverell Sitwell's grandson, William, is the editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated.

  15. Cookbook- Ahh, wouldn't a Sitwell cookbook be fascinating to analyze.
    I did a post of Sitwells gathering of
    flowers- making Cowslip Cream.


  16. It is extremely interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

  17. I just came across your Sitwell post -- she was an amazing woman! Have you had the chance to check out her wonderfully eccentric and beautifully-illustrated little magazine, "Wheels" {that she created with her two brothers}. I work for the Modernist Journals Project, and we digitized the journal a few years ago. You can see it here: http://dl.lib.brown.edu/mjp/render.php?view=mjp_object&id=wheels.catalog




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