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Stevie Smith (1) (1902–1971)

Author of Novel on Yellow Paper

For other authors named Stevie Smith, see the disambiguation page.

36+ Works 1,894 Members 23 Reviews 21 Favorited

About the Author

Florence Margaret Smith was born in Kingston upon Hull on September 20, 1902. After her parents' separation she moved with her mother, aunt, and sister to a house in the London suburb of Palmers Green, where she lived for the rest of her life. After graduating from North London Collegiate School show more for Girls, she worked as a private secretary with the London magazine publishing firm George Newnes. She adopted her nickname, Stevie, as a nom de plume after a friend's joking comparison of her petite stature to that of the jockey Steve Donoghue. Her first book, Novel on Yellow Paper, was published in 1936. She began writing poetry in her twenties and her first collection of verse, A Good Time Was Had by All, was published in 1937. She retired from George Newnes in 1953 due to ill health and to focus on her writing and BBC broadcasts. She came to wider public attention after the publication of her Selected Poems in Britain in 1962 and the United States in 1964. Her other works include The Holiday, Scorpion and Other Poems, and Me Again: Uncollected Writings of Stevie Smith. She was awarded the Chomondeley Award for Poetry in 1966 and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1969. She died of a brain tumor on March 7, 1971. In 1981, a film based on her life entitled Stevie was released. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Stevie Smith

Novel on Yellow Paper (1936) 503 copies
Collected Poems (1975) 245 copies
The Holiday (1949) 220 copies
Selected Poems (1964) 205 copies
Over the Frontier (1938) 126 copies
Stevie Smith: A Selection (1983) 101 copies
All The Poems: Stevie Smith (2016) 49 copies
Best Poems of Stevie Smith (2013) 14 copies

Associated Works

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (2000) — Contributor — 1,249 copies
Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (1995) — Contributor, some editions — 913 copies
The Nation's Favourite Poems (1996) — some editions — 622 copies
The Penguin Book of Women Poets (1978) — Contributor — 297 copies
The Art of Losing (2010) — Contributor — 196 copies
Erotica: Women's Writing from Sappho to Margaret Atwood (1990) — Contributor — 168 copies
British Poetry Since 1945 (1970) — Contributor, some editions — 165 copies
No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (1973) — Contributor — 122 copies
The Penguin Book of Women's Humour (1996) — Contributor — 117 copies
Emergency Kit (1996) — Contributor, some editions — 108 copies
The Book of Cats (1976) — Contributor — 106 copies
The Virago Book of Wicked Verse (1992) — Contributor — 82 copies
The Mammoth Book of Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories (1998) — Contributor — 73 copies
Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (1684) — Contributor — 68 copies
The Secret Self: A Century of Short Stories by Women (1995) — Contributor — 33 copies
Women on Nature (2021) — Contributor — 20 copies
Modern Women Poets (2005) — Contributor — 13 copies
Thames: An Anthology of River Poems (1999) — Contributor — 5 copies
At Close of Eve: An Anthology of New Curious Stories (1947) — Contributor — 4 copies
Did It Happen? (1956) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



Whew. This one was so much harder for me to get through than Novel on Yellow Paper! To be honest, I still have 15-20 pages of it left. Not much of a plot, which was expected, but instead of making up in richness what it lacked in plot, I sort of just found myself completely detached from her friendships and affairs in this one. Still a devout Stevie Smith fan, though. It did have its blindingly gorgeous moments.
ostbying | 4 other reviews | Jan 1, 2023 |
This book is definitely not for those who love straight-forward plots and prose. The book reads like a poem. It takes time to read, too, re-reading passages to figure out what she means, much like one of the more dense Joyce novels. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and thought the character of Pompey had amazing insights and was an especially forward thinker for the time (20th century in the years immediately leading up to WWII). She questions and struggles with the unity of marriage, the church, love, lust, suicide, people with more down-to-earth goals in life and those with more of a free spirit who don't want to be tied down by commonalities and mundane day-to-day things, etc.

Pompey also is suffering a sort of break down from a failed relationship, and it is lovely to see her reveal this throughout the book. It's more stream of consciousness but with a very defined purpose. Stevie Smith, in all her writing, is full of intent, full of deeper meanings. I so much adore the character of Pompey. Novel on Yellow Paper is for those who like JD Salinger's short stories, e.e. cummings poetry, and the insight of Graham Greene (very specifically, if you loved the diary part of The End of the Affair like I did, you'll enjoy this book).
… (more)
ostbying | 4 other reviews | Jan 1, 2023 |
The poem is so short I can reproduce it here:

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Profound...so many are not waving but drowning and so often no one notices.… (more)
mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
I don't know why I waited 11 years after reading the first of Stevie Smith's three novels, Novel on Yellow Paper, which I enjoyed almost as much as her poetry, to read her second. Anyway, Over the Frontier turns out to be fascinating and profoundly odd even by Smith's standards. The first half is a continuation of Novel on Yellow Paper, following Stevie's alter-ego Pompey Casmilus, secretary to a senior civil servant or possibly financier or both, as she succumbs to melancholy in the wake of her break-up with darling Freddie. Eventually her pal Josephine persuades her that what she needs is six months at a Kurhaus on the German Baltic, and it's shortly after they get there that things take a turn for the oneiric. Pompey is drawn into the orbit of a dashing military man — all this takes place (and the novel was published) just before WWII — and caught up in a spy/adventure yarn in the runup to war, with double agents aplenty among the hotel guests, secret cyphers and midnight rides "over the frontier" into Poland. But it all takes place behind the veil of Smith's nebulous prose, the boundaries between perception, imagination and reality almost totally effaced. The way I read it was that Pompey in the fantasy world of the Kurhaus, surrounded by the ugliness of Nazism and the drums of looming war, is seduced by her own power fantasy, perhaps as a way of finally putting darling Freddie behind her. It's almost impossible to describe, this mix of the personal and political, and I'm not sure if it works or not. But I won't be waiting another 11 years to read The Holiday, her own favourite of her novels, and I'm as convinced as ever of her uniqueness as a writer.… (more)
yarb | Oct 19, 2021 |



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