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Sybille Bedford (1911–2006)

Author of A Legacy

Includes the names: Sybile Bedford, Sylvia Bedford, Sybille Bedford

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Sybille Aleid Elsa von Schoenebeck was born in the Charlottenberg district of Berlin, the daughter of a German aristocrat and his German-Jewish wife (later an Italian princess). On her father's death when she was seven years old, Sybille moved with her mother to Rome, London, and the south of France. She began a lifelong friendship with Aldous Huxley, who encouraged her to begin writing at age 16. In 1935, she made a brief marriage of convenience to Walter Bedford, an English army officer, which gave her British citizenship. During World War II, she went to the USA, but later returned to London and to her frequent European travels. Sybille Bedford's second novel, A Legacy (1956), is often considered her masterpiece. Her other books included three semi-autobiographical novels, A Favourite of the Gods (1963), A Compass Error (1968) and Jigsaw (1989), and several travel books. Working as a legal journalist for many years, she covered about 100 trials. In her book As It Was (1990), she discussed travel, the prosecution of D.H. Lawrence for Lady Chatterley's Lover, Jack Ruby's trial for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the trial of the Auschwitz officials in 1964. Although shy, Sybille Bedford could tell funny stories about her friends and fellow writers, including Thomas Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Edith Wharton, and the Huxleys. Her memoir, Quicksands, published in 2005 when she was nearly 94, revived interest in her elegant, insightful work. Her honors included OBE 1981; FRSL 1964; CLit 1994.
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