Winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize
'One of the most shamefully under-read great British authors of the past 100 years' Sarah Waters
The poet Sylvia Townsend Warner rose to sudden fame with the publication of her classic feminist novel Lolly Willowes in 1926, but never became a conventional member of London literary life, pursuing instead a long writing career in her own individualistic manner. Cheerfully defying social norms of the day, Warner lived in an openly homosexual relationship with the poet Valentine Ackland for almost forty years. Together, they were committed members of the Communist party and travelled twice to Spain during the Civil War, but Warner paid for her outspokenness with years of neglect, and channelled much of her emotional and intellectual energy into letters, poems and heart-breaking diaries that remained unpublished during her lifetime. In this enthralling and enlightening biography, Claire Harman tells the story of Warner's remarkable life and restores her to her rightful place as one of Britain's most unique and brilliant writers.
"As passionate and truthful, elegant and enchanting as its subject." George D Painter
"Harman skilfully weaves Sylvia's stories and letters into the biography, and the brilliance of the samples on display constantly takes you aback... Outstanding" Sunday Times
Claire Harman is the award-winning biographer of Sylvia Townsend Warner (1989), Fanny Burney (2000) and Robert Louis Stevenson (2005) and the author of the best-selling Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World (2009). She writes regularly for the literary press on both sides of the Atlantic and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006. Her most recent work is Charlotte Bronte: A Life.