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30 review for Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    F

    Harman brings Sylvia Townsend Warner (read Lolly Willowes and Summer Will Show if you haven't yet!!) back to life in this engaging, cleverly written and superbly researched biography. And what a life. What a woman. What a story. There's no fireworks, only a well-lived, thoroughly enjoyed existence. She worked, she learnt, she wrote, she loved, and I am so happy to have been able to peek into her story. Love you, S. Harman brings Sylvia Townsend Warner (read Lolly Willowes and Summer Will Show if you haven't yet!!) back to life in this engaging, cleverly written and superbly researched biography. And what a life. What a woman. What a story. There's no fireworks, only a well-lived, thoroughly enjoyed existence. She worked, she learnt, she wrote, she loved, and I am so happy to have been able to peek into her story. Love you, S.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I love Sylvia Townsend Warner's books, and whilst I knew a little about her life, I have never read about her in depth. Claire Harman's biography of her therefore seemed like the perfect tome, and I was thrilled to receive it from a kind friend. Whilst on the face of it Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography is easy to read, it is often a little confusing, at least at first. Harman does not always refer to the same person by the same singular name or nickname, but mixes them up at will, flicking fr I love Sylvia Townsend Warner's books, and whilst I knew a little about her life, I have never read about her in depth. Claire Harman's biography of her therefore seemed like the perfect tome, and I was thrilled to receive it from a kind friend. Whilst on the face of it Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography is easy to read, it is often a little confusing, at least at first. Harman does not always refer to the same person by the same singular name or nickname, but mixes them up at will, flicking from one to another and then back again in the same paragraph. Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography was not as immersive as I was expecting, and it unfortunately rather skimmed over her early life, offering comparatively little about Townsend Warner's childhood. It is insightful, particularly with regard to detailing Townsend Warner's politics, but the detail which has been woven in about her writing processes, and critiques of her work, are rather too sparse for a biography of such an important literary figure. The final section was rather touching, and Harman did pull my interest back at this point, but again, I found that the details surrounding Townsend Warner's death and funeral were almost entirely skimmed over. Far more information seemed to be given about Townsend Warner's partner, Valentine Ackroyd, than about her at points, which made for quite an odd and jarring read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/201... http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/201...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I knew general information but had no in-depth knowledge of Sylvia Townsend Warner's world, so was intrigued to read this thorough biography. I've read Harman's book on Charlotte Bronte and so anticipated her rather dense, yet telling style of writing. This biography did not disappoint, in detail or considered compassion for its main subject and the people in STW's life. As I followed through her years I was particularly interested in three main features: her writing, her relationship with Valen I knew general information but had no in-depth knowledge of Sylvia Townsend Warner's world, so was intrigued to read this thorough biography. I've read Harman's book on Charlotte Bronte and so anticipated her rather dense, yet telling style of writing. This biography did not disappoint, in detail or considered compassion for its main subject and the people in STW's life. As I followed through her years I was particularly interested in three main features: her writing, her relationship with Valentine Ackland, and her broader intellectual world. STW seemed to me a person who could excel at anything she tried, and she often did excel. She kept her modesty and was both ambitious and self-disciplined. Talent and the desire to work hard do not always come together in a person, but it certainly did in STW. She had her failures, projects that did not come to much, and her writing over years might seem rather uneven. Reading this biography gave me further understanding not just of STW, but also the world she grew and thrived within. I must admit I did not know a great deal about Spanish civil war, but now know a great deal more. Her membership of the Communist party, her work in WWII, all these things have given me greater insights into twentieth century life on a personal level. I would love to read Valentine Ackland's biography. I warmed to Valentine as the biography took us through the decades. She was as complex if not more than STW. A biography to be read not just by readers who enjoy STW's writing - I am particularly a fan of her short stories - but this is one for anyone interested in women artists of the twentieth century.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tocotin

    I’m so glad I bought this book (on sale at the local bookstore, and I had to choose between this one and “Frog Music”, which is still on my TBR list, because of my limited funds). What an amazing human being! It happens so rarely – maybe it’s the first time for me – to read a biography and think, “wow, I wish I knew this person”. So intelligent, strong and brave. All right, there were some things… perhaps a bit glossed over, namely her lack of criticism about Communism – certainly understandable I’m so glad I bought this book (on sale at the local bookstore, and I had to choose between this one and “Frog Music”, which is still on my TBR list, because of my limited funds). What an amazing human being! It happens so rarely – maybe it’s the first time for me – to read a biography and think, “wow, I wish I knew this person”. So intelligent, strong and brave. All right, there were some things… perhaps a bit glossed over, namely her lack of criticism about Communism – certainly understandable, yes, but I had the feeling that the biographer knew more than she chose to divulge. I also thought that there could have been a bit more of analysis of STW’s writing. And I noticed the biographer’s strange hostility towards historical writers… as if it would be a slight for some of STW’s books (“Summer Will Show”, “The Corner That Held Them”, and more) to be considered historical. What the hell? So yeah, I loved Sylvia, but the biography, not so much.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jack Bates

    I've only read Lolly Willowes but of course STW is one of those people who comes up in other people's biographies all the time, since she lived at a busy time for writers and knew lots of people. She was very successful, much better known than she is now, and spent time in Spain duting the Civil War and in the British Communist Party up until Stalin's death. Although this bio is not as detailed as the Highsmith one I just read, both Sylvia and her partner, Valentine Ackland, wrote copious diaire I've only read Lolly Willowes but of course STW is one of those people who comes up in other people's biographies all the time, since she lived at a busy time for writers and knew lots of people. She was very successful, much better known than she is now, and spent time in Spain duting the Civil War and in the British Communist Party up until Stalin's death. Although this bio is not as detailed as the Highsmith one I just read, both Sylvia and her partner, Valentine Ackland, wrote copious diaires and letters, so there's plenty to go on in terms of the sometimes messy drama of their lives. They both sound pretty ace to be honest.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alison Bowman

    What a fascinating subject for a biography, and deftly drawn by Claire Harman. It's a great portrait of a time in history, not just the person. I'm off to purchase books by Sylvia now. What a fascinating subject for a biography, and deftly drawn by Claire Harman. It's a great portrait of a time in history, not just the person. I'm off to purchase books by Sylvia now.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I read a mention in The Guardian newspaper that described her as one of the great modern diarists so I picked up her diaries. They are wonderful but without background on her life, much was confusing. I found this to get that background and although it is well written and researched, much of her life is still confusing. Several passages in the book contain unexplained contradictions in statements or behavior. It made the reading a bit frustrating. She did have a complicated romantic life so the I read a mention in The Guardian newspaper that described her as one of the great modern diarists so I picked up her diaries. They are wonderful but without background on her life, much was confusing. I found this to get that background and although it is well written and researched, much of her life is still confusing. Several passages in the book contain unexplained contradictions in statements or behavior. It made the reading a bit frustrating. She did have a complicated romantic life so the biographer may have done the best with what is fundamentally unknowable. Still, I enjoyed the insights into life during wartime Britain, both wars. Also she was a fascinating person and I did feel I got to know her a little from this book. Her devotion to her work and her intellectual curiosity was inspiring.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jude

    the biographer is as good as her subject. one of the best descriptions of the view from inside the head of an intelligent & independent little girl i have found. the woman that girl became is a gift to all who find her.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ND

    an amazing life, fun to read about

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Fairly good biography of the writer warner, although there was too much time spent on her lifetime lesbian partner and not enough time on her literary life, which I found more interesting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Olivia

    note to self: have only read the last few chapters. go back and read the childhood bits.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn O

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Rose

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Francis

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Wood

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jana

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsey Jenkins

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary Alice

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laureli Collins

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Lawson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Lee

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz Upton

  27. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Colvin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miss Antelope

  29. 4 out of 5

    Catalogermom

  30. 4 out of 5

    Selena

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