Monday, 31 May 2010

Sylvia Townsend Warner 299, 390

I read a couple of Sylvia Townsend Warner novels before starting this blog, and as I have just read Summer will show (review to follow tomorrow...), I thought I would post about them today. The more of Townsend Warner that I read, the more fascinated I am by her. She is by no means my favourite Virago author thus far, but I am intrigued by the diversity of her writing matter. A number of Virago authors write books that are easily pigeonholed - if you like one of them, then you will very likely like the rest of them. Townsend Warners books are so different that it is difficult to make that assumption. On the other hand, it can be refreshing to find an author who writes such different books.

The two books that I have read are Lolly Willowes and The corner that held them.

Lolly Willowes is the somewhat magical tale of a spinster who, having spent 20 years living with relations, following the death of her father when she was 28, moves to a small village where she discovers a secret vocation of witchcraft. It's been published twice by Virago with italicised and modern green covers.

The corner that held them is set in the 14th century, and follows the inhabitants of a nunnery under 4 different prioresses. It has been published three times in green covers. I particularly like the most recent one, which was the one that I borrowed from the library that I used to work in.
Virago also publish a book of short stories, Mr Fortune's Maggot, After the death of Don Juan, and the Flint Anchor which I look forward to reading in due course, as well as Summer will show which you can read about tomorrow.

I also recently acquired her diaries, and as I read my way through the rest of her novels I shall be dipping in and out of that. My mind boggled at what Townsend Warner must have looked like from the illustration on the cover of this volume:
But she looks reassuringly normal in this picture which I found of her online at the Sylvia Townsend Warner archive (well worth a visit):


  1. An excellent introduction to an author that I have never read but whose name seems to pop up everywhere. thank you Verity

  2. I love Sylvia Townsend Warner. The Corner that Held Them is one of my most favorite books. I picked up a book of short stories by her that I loved, The Kingdoms of Elfin.

  3. I have seen her name all over the place and always spot her books in second hand shops but have yet to be induced to try her. One day! Your reviews are tempting indeed!

  4. I do love Lolly Willowes, but was a bit surprised by how varied the rest of her novels seemed to be! I've only read Mr. Fortune's Maggot since, which was good but not AS good. Summer Will Show is next on my list...