Author photo. Cropped scan of back cover of Penguin No.642 (unattributed image).

Cropped scan of back cover of Penguin No.642 (unattributed image).

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Sylvia Townsend Warner was the only child of a housemaster at Harrow School and his India-born wife, who educated her at home. She became an accomplished musician at a young age. She also researched 15th and 16th century music, and spent a decade as a member of the committee preparing the ten-volume work Tudor Church Music, published by Oxford University Press. At the outbreak of World War I, Sylvia went to work in a munitions factory in London, the city where she met and befriended a number of the "Bright Young People" of the 1920s. Encouraged by her friends David Garnett and Theodore (T.F.) Powys, she began to write fiction. She became famous for the stories she contributed to The New Yorker for more than 40 years. During her career, she produced seven novels, four volumes of poetry, a volume of essays, and eight volumes of short stories. She also wrote a biography of T.H. White (1967) and translated Proust's Contre Saint Beuve into English. In 1930, she bought a cottage in the village of Chaldon Herring in Dorset, where she lived with poet Valentine's Ackland until her death. Their joint collection of poems, Whether a Dove or Seagull, was published in 1933. In the 1930s, the two women joined the Communist Party and twice travelled to Spain during the Civil War. Scenes of Childhood (1981), a book based on reminiscences that Sylvia wrote for The New Yorker from 1936-1978, was published posthumously. Volumes of selected correspondence with Ackland also have been published.
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