Stevie Smith: A Biography

Stevie Smith: A Biography

by Frances Spalding
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Stevie Smith had a unique literary voice: her idiosyncratic, wonderfully funny and poignant poems established her as one of the most individual of English modern poets. She claimed her own life was 'precious dull', but Frances Spalding's acclaimed biography, revised with a new introduction for this centenary edition, reveals a far from conventional woman. While she…  See more details below

Overview

Stevie Smith had a unique literary voice: her idiosyncratic, wonderfully funny and poignant poems established her as one of the most individual of English modern poets. She claimed her own life was 'precious dull', but Frances Spalding's acclaimed biography, revised with a new introduction for this centenary edition, reveals a far from conventional woman. While she lived in suburbia with her beloved 'Lion Aunt', Stevie Smith was from the early 1930s a vibrant figure on London's intellectual scene, mixing with artists and writers, among them Radclyffe Hall, Olivia Manning, Rosamond Lehmann and George Orwell. She was noted for her wit -- often maliciously directed at friends -- and occasional public tantrums. Her use of real people in her writing angered many of her friends and brought the threat of libel. Always feeling herself out of step with the world, she was haunted by her father's absence during her childhood and her mother's early death; she longed for love yet was sexually ambivalent. In exploring the intimate relationship between Stevie Smith's life and work, Frances Spalding gives a new insight into a writer who always saw death as a friend, yet was also one of the great celebrators of life, whether commonplace or extraordinary.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This study of English poet Florence Margaret ``Stevie'' Smith (1902-71) examines the close connections between the writer's humdrum yet tragic life and her quirky verse and personalized fiction. A publishing secretary for nearly 30 years (until she attempted suicide in 1953), Smith gained celebrity in 1936 with the publication of her mocking, gossipy soliloquy, Novel on Yellow Paper . Later she gained an even larger audience as a book reviewer and giver of talks on the BBC; many of her literary friends figure in her poetry. Although much of the book remains speculative, Spalding, biographer also of Whistler, Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell, offers fresh interpretations based on new information. Her sensitive analysis should help to broaden Smith's appeal. Illustrated. (May)
Library Journal
Spalding's critical biography of English poet and novelist Stevie Smith (1902-1971) follows Jack Barbera and William McBrien's unauthorized Stevie: A Biography of Stevie Smith (LJ 2/15/87), first published in Britain in 1985. Smith, known primarily for Novel on Yellow Paper and the poem ``Not Waving But Drowning,'' enjoyed her greatest success in the 1960s. Omitting minor details found in the earlier volume, Spalding focuses more on the relationship between the poet's life and her writing, showing how her unique poetic and narrative style evolved. However, despite a gentler tone and more analysis of Smith's work, this biography does not add enough significant, new information for it to replace its predecessor.-- Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo correction: Hugh Kenner's Mazes, reviewed in LJ 4/1/89, was to have been published in April but now will be published in June.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393307184
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/01/1991
Product dimensions:
3.03(w) x 3.03(h) x 0.59(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >