News Archive

Lecture on Sylvia by Professor Maud Ellmann at University College London, 22nd June 2017

The bi-annual Sylvia Townsend Warner Lecture will be given this year by Professor Maud Ellmann of the University of Chicago. Her topic will be 'Sylvia Townsend Warner and After the Death of Don Juan'. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception. All welcome.

Maud Ellmann is the Randy L. & Melvin R. Berlin Professor of the Development of the Novel in English at the University of Chicago. Her books include The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing, and Imprisonment (1993), Elizabeth Bowen: The Shadow Across the Page (2003) and The Nets of Modernism: Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Sigmund Freud (2010). She is working on a monograph on Warner for the Edinburgh University Press series Midcentury Modern Writers, which she founded.

The lecture will also mark the launch of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Journal as a digital as well as print publication, now brought out by UCL Press.

The event is free but registration on Eventbrite is requested and advised.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016, at the Southbank Centre Poetry Library in London

Southbank Centre's Poetry Library will be hosting an event for Warner fans, new and old, to celebrate her poetic works.

The event focuses on the poetic works so often overshadowed by Warner's more famous novels, and will include three short talks by a range of Warner experts. Professor Peter Swaab will deliver an introductory talk, Claire Harman will provide biographical insight into the poetry, and Frances Bingham will close the event with further critical discussion. Attendees can also expect a selection of hand-illustrated quotes and passages from Warner's poetry, penned by a variety of part-time artists and illustrators based in London!

See the announcement on the Southbank Centre website.

Warner Author of the Month

In August 2016 Warner was 'author of the month' at the London Review of Books Bookshop.
The shop offered a number of Warner's novels and Society journals for sale. The shop's website introduced Sylvia and featured a number of blog posts about her.

SOCIETY WEEKEND 10 - 12 June 2016 on the Essex Marshes

Just as her heroine Lolly Willowes had discovered the Chilterns, so Sylvia Townsend Warner discovered the Essex Marshes - by buying a map. The place-names delighted her, and she made several visits, one of them with David Garnett. Out of these visits came her novel, The True Heart.

For details of this year's Society weekend in the Essex Marshes, please read the 2016 Society weekend summary.

Mapping London and Exploring Desires in Sylvia Townsend Warner's 'The Green Torso' (1970)

Although at this time of year many of you are no doubt buried beneath piles of essays and exams, we hope you'll take some time out to join the Literary London Society for their final session of this academic year. Rebecca Hahn (Tuebingen) will introduce Sylvia Townsend Warner's 'The Green Torso' (1970). This session will take place on Tuesday, 14 June, 2016, from 6.00pm - 7.30pm at Senate House, Room 103.

LOLLY WILLOWES has been translated into Spanish!

Celia Montolio has translated Lolly Willowes into Spanish. Here is how this reads:

Al morir su padre, Laura Willowes se fue a vivir a Londres con su hermano mayor y su familia.

The full 2016 Spanish edition is available through Siruela publishers, ISBN 978-84-16638-78-9 or at Amazon.
Follow this link to the Spanish Amazon or the foreign language section of Amazon Uk or Amazon US.

Claire Harman, Sylvia and Charlotte Brontë

Claire Harman's major new biography of Charlotte Brontë, celebrating the author's bicentenary in 2016, is due from Viking Penguin on 29th October and from Alfred A Knopf in March 2016. On the same day, Viking Penguin will republish, in paper and as an ebook, her first biography, the prize-winning Sylvia Townsend Warner.

Amazon already lists the new publications.

Art Work inspired by the lives of Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland

Amanda Chambers has been inspired, after a visit to the Warner Archive at Dorset County Museum and extensive reading of Warner's work, to produce a work of art consisting of 6 pieces. The work can be viewed on her website http://amandachambers.co.uk/.

SOCIETY WEEKEND 2015

This year's Society meeting was held from 12 to 14 June 2015 in Dorset.

Please read the summary of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society Weekend of 2015.

THE CAT IN THE HAMPER: WARNER AND THE ART OF NARRATING A BIOGRAPHY

The Society is delighted to present you with an occasional paper written by Dr Morine Krissdóttir, a Society member, on the writing of Sylvia Townsend Warner's biography of T.H. White. This article is based on some very interesting material which has recently been given to the STW/VA Archive at Dorset County Museum.

Read the full article about STW's biography of T.H. White.

MARY JACOBS MEMORIAL ESSAY PRIZE

The Society continues the Mary Jacobs Memorial Essay Prize. It has been set up by the Committee to encourage further work on Sylvia Townsend Warner, and also to honour the memory of our dear friend and loyal member, Mary Jacobs.
The scope of potential topics is very wide and the competition is open to all, members and non-members alike. The deadline for entries will be 1 May 2015. The prize for the winning essay will be £200, publication in the Society's Journal and one year's free membership of the Society.
Read the details of the Mary Jacobs Memorial Essay Prize.

OUR NORFOLK TRIP, JUNE 20-22 2014

Our schedule was packed with wonderful ventures and the weather was at its very best for our weekend in Norfolk.

Please read the summary of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society Weekend of 2014.

A LETTER BY SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER - THE MATCHBOX

In 1946 Sylvia received an unusual present - an empty matchbox. Read Sylvia's wonderful thank-letter: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/11/the-matchbox.html

SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER WEEKEND 2013 - June 28, 29 and 30

We had a wonderful time at last year's Society weekend. The weather was perfect and we were happy to welcome old acquaintances and new faces to our various events.

Please read Judith Stinton's summary of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society Weekend of 2013.

MARY JACOBS MEMORIAL ESSAY PRIZE

The Society continues the Mary Jacobs Memorial Essay Prize. It has been set up by the Committee to encourage further work on Sylvia Townsend Warner, and also to honour the memory of our dear friend and loyal member, Mary Jacobs.
The scope of potential topics is very wide and the competition is open to all, members and non-members alike. The deadline for entries will be 1 May 2014. The prize for the winning essay will be £200, publication in the Society's Journal and one year's free membership of the Society.
Read the details of the Mary Jacobs Memorial Essay Prize.

New Publication - The Akeing Heart

The Akeing Heart, the story of Sylvia Townsend Warner, Valentine Ackland and Elizabeth Wade White, has been published and is available on Amazon as a paperback or as a Kindle ebook.  Peter Judd, Elizabeth's cousin, has compiled this from letters, diaries, notes and photographs found among Elizabeth's papers after her death, and from other sources of STW/VA material.

The book casts a new light on the triangular relationship and promises some fascinating revelations.

If you follow the link to Amazon from our website and buy the book (or anything else on Amazon), the Society will earn a small commission from the purchase. This is a great help for our funds.

The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society Weekend 29 June - 1 July 2012

Last year's annual Society meeting took place in the Dorset Country Museum in Dorchester. We enjoyed a truly international event with presenters from USA, Spain and Germany, as well as UK during the Symposium on Friday. Saturday's highlight was the staging of ‘Words and Music with Sylvia Townsend Warner'.
Read more about the annual Society meeting in 2012.

New Publication

Peter Tolhurst of Black Dog Books is publishing this fascinating collection of Warner's non-fiction pieces in June 2012, entitled 'With the Hunted - Selected Writings'. This will be of great interest to all Warner scholars and admirers. To find out more, visit the website at http://www.blackdogbooks.co.uk.

This collection features her monograph on Jane Austen, the ‘Tristram Shandyan’ portrait of her early mentor Theodore Powys, a charming introduction to selections from Gilbert White, The Portrait of a Tortoise, extracts from her guide Somerset, pieces on social etiquette, as well as several unpublished articles together with Warner’s thoughts on the historical novel, women as writers and reflections on her own life in literature.

Order/Buy this book now via this link to or and earn the Society a share of the price.

The Foregone Conclusion - A Story by Sylvia Townsend Warner

The Society proudly presents this story by Sylvia Townsend Warner. It was first published in the New Yorker magazine in 1973. We have now received permission from Sylvia's literary executor to make this story available to the public on our website. Click here to read The Foregone Conclusion.

As a special treat we also offer Mary Jacobs' commentary to that story. It explores the story's central topics and links some of its details to Sylvia's private life.

Any thoughts to share? Please let us know by writing to us or posting on our Facebook page.

Cousin and Friend

Here is an opportunity to purchase a newly published collection of letters written by Sylvia Townsend Warner to her young cousin Rachel Monckton-How between 1950 and 1952. They shed an interesting new light on STW as very much a family person, and emphasise her generosity and kindness towards a young woman making her own way in the world. This volume is a must for all admirers of Sylvia Townsend Warner.

Copies may be ordered from Judith Bond, 26 Portwey Close, Weymouth, DT4 8RF, UK, with cheques made payable to ‘The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society’. The cost in UK is £7.30 including postage, and €9.00 in Europe or $14.00 in USA, shipping included.

Diary Dates for 2012

Next year, the Society will participate in the Symposium entitled ‘Revisiting Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978)’. This is being held on Friday 29 June 2012 at the Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, and is being organised by the Centre for South West Writing, University of Exeter, and the Dorset County Museum. There may also be a public lecture on STW on the evening of Thursday 28 June, also at the Museum.

The Society’s annual Weekend gathering will take place immediately after the Symposium, on Saturday 30 June. The final details for this are being worked on so we shall post more information later. Thus there will be no meeting in May next year.

If you are interested in attending this or in offering a paper for the symposium, please look at the Call for Papers.

A Mild Case of Bibliomania - Raymond Russel's passion for books explained

In a video on YouTube Raymond Russell tells the story of his bibliomania, how his book collection has grown and changed over the years, and how it led to the founding of the Tartarus Press, which has published rare work by some of the writers he collects, including Arthur Machen, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Edward Heron-Allen (Christopher Blayre.)

Listen to STW on BBC Radio 4!

Three short stories by STW were aired on BBC Radio 4 from 31 May to 2 June 2011 at 3.30 pm. The stories were Winter in the Air, Shadwell and Idenborough.
You can still listen to some of them over the BBC iplayer on the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk. (It seems that this is no longer possible.)

The Society’s Facebook Page (August 2011)

The Society now has, thanks to the efforts of member Jenny Wildblood, its own Facebook page. The page is named ‘Sylvia Townsend Warner Society’ (there is another Facebook group called ‘The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society’ which has no connection with our Society). On our page, you will find news of events coming up, publishing news and much more. There is also a section with information about STW and her works. What is even better: the site offers you the option of posting your own views, ideas, questions and pieces of information. You can access the page through your own Facebook account and post items on its wall. Go, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sylvia-Townsend-Warner-Society/149986748404482.

Mr Fortune’s Maggot + The Salutation = Mr Fortune

On 16 August 2011 the New York Review of Books is reissuing its edition of Mr Fortune’s Maggot and The Salutation, with an introduction by Adam Mars-Jones, in their range of Classics. The latest edition is entitled Mr Fortune and is available, from amazon.co.uk for £8.34 and from amazon.com at $10.17. This is a good opportunity to purchase both stories in one volume. As Claire Harman writes of The Salutation, it “was almost certainly begun in the expectation that it would grow into a full-length novel, a sequel, or an extended coda” to Mr Fortune’s Maggot. Yet it also stands on its own, and Warner considered it “the purest, the least time-serving story I ever wrote.”

If you make a purchase from either amazon.com or amazon.co.uk from the links on this website you will help the Society to earn commission to add to our funds!

'LOLLY WILLOWES' By Bridget Strevens Romer

The painting was sold in a sealed bid auction. The winning bid came from a Society member and brought in £210.00.

This portrait of 'Lolly Willowes' was painted in 1987 by Bridget Strevens Romer as a commission for the dust jacket of a French edition of the novel. In the event, the portrait was not used for the jacket and the painting was purchased from the artist by Claire Harman, Sylvia Townsend Warner’s biographer, who generously donated it in 2010 to the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society for us to sell to raise funds.

STW Society weekend, May 13th to 15th 2011

Friday night 7.30pm: Meal at The Hole in the Wall Restaurant, 16 Great George Street.

Saturday: 10am AGM in the splendid setting of the Aix-en-Provence Room of Bath Guildhall, followed by sealed bid auction of portrait of Lolly Willowes by Bridget Strevens Romer.
Refreshments - coffee, tea and pastries. Then a reading of the letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and David Garnett, originally performed in 1993.
pm: Trip around the sites of Bath on an open-top bus. Meal in evening at Sally Lunn’s, 4 North Parade Passage.

Sunday morning. The Roman Baths - this water is according to Sylvia's Somerset guide 'the eye of Bath...a green eye'.
Lunch in the famous Pump Room, Stall Street.

See the full programme for the May weekend to learn about all arrangements and bookings.

The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society in 2010

2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society which came into being on 14 January 2000. Our first decade has been an exciting and busy one, with meetings twice a year, two Newsletters every year and the annual Journal. It is interesting also to recall just how many visits and activities we have undertaken in that time. Read more ...

Back Copies of Society Journals

Back copies of the Society Journal now are £5.50 each ($10). We have copies available of almost all the Journals published by the Society between 2000 and 2011, except those for 2003 and 2009. These last two can be supplied if required as a pdf file or as a photocopy. Go to our Publications Page for a full list of all the Journals’ contents.

If you would like to make a purchase please send a cheque made out to ‘The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society’ for the appropriate amount and send to Judith Bond, 26 Portwey Close, Weymouth, DT4 8RF, indicating which item you want to purchase and including your contact details.

There are also copies available of most of the Society’s Newsletters which will now be sold at £1.50 ($2.00) each. The articles in these are indicated on the alphabetical list of contributors on the Publications Page.

Society Weekend in Norfolk 11 – 13 September 2009

The Society will be holding a gathering over the weekend of 11 – 13 September. We shall meet in Norwich on Friday evening for a meal. On Saturday we will visit Norwich Cathedral and have coffee in the refectory. In the afternoon we will travel to Salthouse, using the Coasthopper bus named 'Sylvia Townsend Warner', one of the fleet of Coasthoppers named after famous people who have lived along the Norfolk coast. We will gather for a meal in the evening in Norwich. On Sunday we will be visiting Blickling Hall.

Members of the Society will find full details in the next Newsletter, which will be published soon. If any non-members are interested, please contact Judith Bond.

1 – 3 May 2009 - Weekend Gathering

The Society will be holding its first gathering of 2009 over the weekend of 1 – 3 May. We shall meet in Dorchester on Friday evening for a meal; on Saturday the AGM will be held in the Dorset County Museum, followed by a talk on MI5’s surveillance of STW & VA. On Saturday afternoon, we shall visit Lyme Regis to explore STW’s links with Jane Austen, and gather for a meal in the evening. On Sunday we will be visiting East Chaldon.

Further details will be announced later and will be published in the Spring Newsletter.

23 February 2009 - Website relaunched

The Society is proud to present its newly launched website. There have been improvements in design and content to provide more information and offer better readability. For any feedback, questions and comments please contact Karina Taubert at 'kmake this email address more difficult to be read automaticallyt@townsendwarner.com'.

24 November 2008 - Journal 2008 published

The Society's journal for the year 2008 has just been published. All members of the Society will receive it by post soon. The journal features many interesting articles, among them a review of the New Collected Poems. It also contains two articles by Sylvia: ‘Barcelona‘ and ‘Soldiers and Sickles‘.

Find a full listing of the journal's content on our List of Publications. If you are not yet a member of the Society, you may order copies from here. (headline 'Backcopies').

7 October 2008 - September Weekend

Members of the Society enjoyed the best weather of the 'summer' at our weekend on 26 - 28 September. Walks at Tyneham and through the 'scooped valley' (in STW's poem) at Chaldon were magnificent. An unusual event was a meal of dishes mentioned in STW's letters, with lentil & rhubarb soup, curried chicken with gooseberries and chicken in cider butter. We hope to have recipes in the next Newsletter. Next year's programme will be discussed at the Committee meeting in December.

30 June 2008 - September Meeting

All those members who attended the Concert in Oxford in May enjoyed the wonderful experience of appreciating a little-known side of STW and hearing the great variety of music which she produced, reflecting her wide-ranging literary abilities. Also, the day spent at Idbury proved very exciting, when we discovered STW's signature in a record-book at Idbury Manor and saw the house in which she stayed there, possibly while finishing 'Lolly Willowes'. The weekend will be reported in detail in the Society's Summer Newsletter, out soon.

The next Society event will be 26, 27 & 28 September 2008 in Dorset. There will be a meal in Dorchester on Friday evening; on Saturday morning a gathering in the Museum Library to hear recordings, musical and spoken, by and about STW; in the afternoon a walk at Tyneham; on Sunday a walk at Chaldon. Full details will appear in the Newsletter.

19 April 2008 - OXFORD WEEKEND, SUNDAY 4 MAY

Peter Tolhurst has been in contact with the owners of Idbury Manor, previously owned by John Robertson Scott, the founder of The Countryman to which Sylvia Townsend Warner contributed many articles. They have kindly agreed that a group of Society members may visit the Manor on Sunday 4 May at 2.00 pm. If you would like to be part of this group please contact me at stwsociety@tiscali.co.uk

2 April 2008 - BODLEIAN LIBRARY VISIT, SATURDAY 3 MAY, 2008

A tour of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, has been arranged for members of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society on 3 May, before the concert at St Anne's College in the afternoon. Only 13 places are available and these have all now been allocated. If you have a place on the tour, please note that it begins at 11.00 am, Saturday 3 May, 2008.

27 March 2008 - "NEW COLLECTED POEMS" BY SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER PUBLISHED

Claire Harmann is the editor of this collection of poems by STW. Included are over ninety previously uncollected and unpublished poems, with expanded notes, a chronology and an authoritative new introduction

17 March 2008 - THE SYLVIA TOWNSEND WARNER CONCERT, SATURDAY 3 MAY, 2008

The concert on 3 May 2008 will take place at the Mary Ogilvie Theatre, St Anne's College, Oxford, (note the change of venue) at 2.30 pm. This is to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Sylvia's death and will feature the first ever performances of her own compositions "Children of Earth" and "Memorial", musical settings of her poems by John Ireland and Paul Nordoff, and a new composition by Simon Whalley. Rebecca Outram (mezzo-soprano), Simon Whalley (piano) and members of Keble College Chapel Choir will perform.

Tickets are £10. Society members have received details of the concert and a form to reserve tickets. For non-members, if you would like to reserve a ticket, please contact the Society on stwsociety@tiscali.co.uk.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you at this very special occasion.

7 January 2008 - MAY WEEKEND

There will be a change to our usual May weekend programme in 2008. Claire Harman, STW's biographer, and her musical colleagues are arranging a concert of works by Sylvia Townsend Warner, several of which have probably never actually been performed, at Keble College, Oxford, on the afternoon of Saturday, 3 May. The Society will be holding its AGM there instead of in Dorset so that as many members as possible may attend the concert. It promises to be a very special occasion for all admirers of STW. We shall send out further information about this to members of the Society as soon as details are finalised.

12 October 2007 - Descents of Memory

This ground-breaking new biography of John Cowper Powys was launched at Dorset County Museum on Tuesday 9 October 2007. This is an important addition to works on writers connected with Dorset, and will be of great interest to admirers of Powys. Even more, it will draw in readers who have hitherto been unable to tackle his work and give them a guide into the deep workings of his mind. Essential reading for Dorset lovers, booklovers, anyone who has ever heard of Powys.

September 2007 - New edition of "Somerset" published by Black Dog Books

Black Dog Books has just published a wonderful new edition of Sylvia Townsend Warner's Somerset . This originally appeared in 1949 as one of the Vision of England series. Sylvia said of it, "Since I am constitutionally incapable of resembling a guide, an err-and-stray book would be nearer my measure." The reader is taken on a journey through the county's most beautiful scenery. Bath and Wells and the great Ham stone houses are among the highlights but STW is just as good on Somerset churches, its barns and cottages and the craftsmen who built them. She has a particular affinity for the willowy landscape of Sedgemoor and Glastonbury's legendary Tor and is equally at home with the Romantic poets on the Quantocks.

This new edition is illustrated with a selection of 64 stunning black and white photographs by several eminent photographers, including Edwin Smith, Patrick Sutherland and Chris Willoughby.

To order your copy of this delightful book for £17.99 (inc p&p) contact Black Dog books at 104, Trinity Street , Norwich , NR2 2BJ , 01603 623771 or email: blackdogbooks@computekmail.co.uk.

August 2007 - "Dead Men Talking: v. 3: Stories from East Anglia"

Another interesting new publication by Black Dog Books is the third in the series "Stories from East Anglia", "Dead Men Talking", following on from "A Distant Cry" and "Line Dancing" . This has two stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner, "Poison" and "A Stranger With a Bag". Other stories are by Angela Carter, Nicola Barker, Rose Tremain, Ronald Blythe, Virginia Woolf, Toby Litt, Philip Hensher and many others. The price is £14.95 (inc p&p) from Black Dog Books (contact details as above).

4 June 2007 - Scenes of Dorset

Dorset has provided inspiration for many writers. These photographs show why

19 May 2007 - Sylvia Townsend Warner

Sylvia Townsend Warner was a highly individual writer in several genres. She wrote seven novels, the first of which was Lolly Willowes published in 1926. She also wrote volumes of poetry and short stories, many of which were published in The New Yorker. In 1967 she completed her biography of T.H. White. She began visiting East Chaldon in Dorset in 1922 and there met the poet Valentine Ackland, and from then on the couple became residents of Dorset, firstly in Chaldon and later in Frome Vauchurch near Maiden Newton.

Despite the quality of her work, she remains an under-appreciated figure in the literary world and virtually unknown to most Dorset people.

30 April 2006 - Dorset Stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner,
with wood engravings by Reynolds Stone (published by Black Dog Books, price £15.99)

The writer Sylvia Townsend Warner spent the best years of her life in Dorset from the time she first moved to Chaldon Herring in 1927 to her death in 1978. Although none of her seven novels are set in the county a good number of the many short stories that first appeared in The New Yorker have a strong Dorset flavour. She was attracted to Chaldon by the presence of the novelist T. F. Powys and the influence of his quirky allegorical style is clearly discernible in her own early output.

It was here too that she met Valentine Ackland, her life-long companion, and ten years later the couple moved to a house beside the river at Frome Vauchurch on the outskirts of Maiden Newton. Most of the stories are set here or in Dorchester (Dumbridge) during the war years. Warner’s characters come from all walks of village life and are wryly observed in stories that are at once elegant, original and witty.

Collected together for the first time Dorset Stories contains a number previously unpublished and many others long out of print. Beautifully illustrated with wood engravings by her Litton Cheney friend Reynolds Stone, they are Dorset ‘to the life’.

Dorset Stories is a 272 page hardback (155 x 233) published by Black Dog Books with 16 wood engravings by Reynolds Stone. Price £15.99. ISBN 0-9549286-3-6 This volume is now sold out.