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Cecily Mackworth (1911–2006)

Author of The Destiny of Isabelle Eberhardt

Includes the names: Cecily Mackworth, Mackworth Cecily edited

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Cecily Mackworth was born in Llantillio Pertholey, Wales, to a coal mine-owning family with historic military connections. When she was four years old, her father, an army officer, was killed in World War I. Her aunt Margaret, Viscountess Rhondda, was the founding editor of Time and Tide. She was educated by governesses and spent two years at the London School of Economics. In 1933, she married Leon Donckier de Donceel, a Belgian lawyer she met in Switzerland, where both were being treated for tubercolosis. At his death three years later, she was left with a daughter to support. She worked briefly for Time and Tide, and published poems in the London Mercury, but longed to travel. She spent a few years in Hungary and Germany before moving to Paris in 1936. In 1937, she met Henry Miller and became part of his circle, including Lawrence Durrell and David Gascoyne. Miller published her collection Eleven Poems in 1938 as an offshoot of his magazine The Booster. At the start of World War II, she escaped from France via Spain and Portugal and had her first big publishing success with a vivid account of her experiences, I Came Out of France (1941). She lived in London through the Blitz and for most of the war, working for the Free French and contributing poems and articles to the literary magazine Horizon and others. She befriended Arthur Koestler, Stevie Smith, Dylan Thomas, Tristan Tzara, and Natalie Sarraute. After the war ended, she returned to France and published François Villon: a Study (1947). She compiled A Mirror for French Poetry, 1840-1940: French Poems with English Translation by English Poets (1947). She worked as a journalist, visiting many countries as a reporter and war correspondent. In 1948, she covered the birth of the State of Israel and travelled throughout the Middle East, which resulted in The Mouth of the Sword (1948). In 1952, she published her first novel, Spring's Green Shadow. Other works included The Destiny of Isabelle Eberhardt (1954), which she researched by following in Eberhardt's footsteps alone in the Sahara. In 1956, Cecily married the Marquis de Chabannes La Palice. She continued to write books, including Guillaume Apollinaire and the Cubist Life (1961) and the anthology English Interludes: Mallarmé, Verlaine, Paul Valéry, Valery Larbaud. She also published reminiscences of her friendships and of the literary scene from the 1930s to 1950s, and an autobiography, Ends of the World (1987) and a second volume, Out of the Black Mountains.
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