Very early in her career Sylvia Townsend Warner won recognition of a discerning group of writers and readers on both sides of rare imagination and originality increased with each new publication. In addition to publishing some twenty books she wrote thousands of letters, mainly to close friends and acquaintances, and these quite naturally provide a record of almost fifty years of the writer’s life.
As the editor of the selection says, she had a connoisseur’s eye for the bogus and a hatred for assumptions of privilege – her heart was with the hunted, always, and her deep understanding of human behaviour makes the whole a remarkably compassionate volume. Her interests are wide-ranging, and we read of the pleasures of travel, Proust’s shortcomings as a literary critic, current politics, Rupert Brooke at the Café Royal, an eccentric moorhen, the Spanish Civil War.
Above all, apart from their intrinsic interest and literary quality, Miss Warner’s letters reveal the special brand of wit and humour that pervades every word she writes.