Archive of 70 autograph letters signed to close friend Gordon Watson, with six manuscript Poems. Edith Sitwell.
Archive of 70 autograph letters signed to close friend Gordon Watson, with six manuscript Poems
Archive of 70 autograph letters signed to close friend Gordon Watson, with six manuscript Poems
Archive of 70 autograph letters signed to close friend Gordon Watson, with six manuscript Poems

Archive of 70 autograph letters signed to close friend Gordon Watson, with six manuscript Poems




New York, London, Sheffield, Florence, Los Angeles: 51 letters dated 1952-1960, 19 letters undated. 286pp. handwritten and signed in ink to various types of stationery and paper, each labeled with Sitwell’s location at the time of writing, most dated in her hand. All letters are in about fine condition, with creases as usual and a few scuffs here and there. This archive consists of 70 letters, many at least six pages in length, sent by the English poet Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) to her friend Gordon Watson (1921-1999), an Australian pianist. The letters are detailed and full of emotion; Sitwell shares with Watson everything from updates on her health and family crises to her thoughts on fellow writers’ work and information on her most recent performances. Though in her sixties at the time of writing, Sitwell is clearly still active as a poet and a member of her social circle, and fills her time with writing, performing, networking, and attending social and cultural events. She cares deeply about her family and friends, which is obvious in her unrelenting support of Watson’s career; indeed, most letters begin with compliments on Watson’s recent performances, and include suggestions for potential venues or contacts in the music world. She also discusses in depth some of her brother Osbert’s personal struggles, namely in his relationship with his partner, David Horner – at several points, Sitwell seems too incensed at Horner’s behavior to even describe it to Watson, even noting, “I hate him.” Sitwell also writes of personal struggles: her health problems bother her from time to time, often leaving her feeling “dead,” as she puts it; she often encounters people requesting her to perform for no pay, which annoys her; she is saddened by the deaths of various acquaintances and friends, including Dylan Thomas who she supported throughout his career and for whom she wrote and published an elegy that she refers to often. In 1954, she finds herself the victim of what she calls criminal libel, describing to Watson the “Ustinov-Lehmann” affair in which Sitwell was portrayed as a character whose sexual promiscuity comes before anything, including her poetry. In 1957, she refers to her romantic interest, Pavel Tchelitchew, who contracted pneumonia and died shortly after. Despite her problems and bouts of sadness, Sitwell clearly finds enjoyment from writing and travelling, as well as connecting with fellow artists. She often praises other writers, including new poet Isabella Gardner, and James Purdy, who she believes is “going to be an infinitely greater novelist than Faulkner.” She has a wide social circle, and mentions her various encounters with such well-known figures as Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, T. S. Eliot, Jack Lindsay, George Copeland, Alice Hunt, and Charles Morgan, among others. Edith Sitwell was known for her rhythmic, musical poetry, which she often performed as a speaker with an orchestra behind her. The six manuscript poems included in this archive consist of “Choric Song,” “Praise We Great Men,” “His Blood Colours my Cheek,” “The Outcasts,” “The Yellow Girl,” and “The Queen of Scotland’s Reply to a Reproof from John Knox.” One is inscribed “For Gordon Watson” and a few have notes detailing what inspired the poems or information about people mentioned in the poems. Sitwell was introduced to Watson by Humphrey Searle, an English composer with whom Sitwell and Watson had each collaborated with separately. The letters are evidence of their fast friendship and strong connection, and provide insight into Sitwell’s own personal life and the lives of her friends and family members.


Item #ES003

Price: $12,500.00