Edith Sitwell Correspondence, 1922-1964

Overview of the Collection

Sitwell, Edith, 1887-1964.
Edith Sitwell Correspondence
1922-1964 (inclusive)
25 Items
Collection Number
Cage 4793 (collection)
Primarily manuscript letters written by Dame Edith Sitwell to Geoffrey Singleton concerning poetry, appointments, and social affairs.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open and available for research use.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Dame Edith Sitwell was born September 7, 1887, in Scarborough, England, the eldest child of Sir George and Lady Ida Sitwell, and sister of Osbert (1892-1969) and Sacheverell (1897- ) Sitwell. She was privately educated. In 1914, she moved to London with her governess Helen Rootham and lived there for the next eighteen years. She resided in London and Paris throughout her life and spent most of her summers at the family estate, Renishaw Hall. For a brief period during World War I she worked as a clerk in a goverment office, after which she diligently pursued a writing career. She was awarded honorary doctorates of literature by the universities of Oxford, Leeds, Durham, and Sheffield. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1954 and became a Companion of Literature (awarded by the Royal Society of Literature) in 1963. Dame Edith died in London December 9, 1964. Poet, critic, anthologist, and champion of Modernism, Edith Sitwell entered the English literary world during the 1920s enmeshed in controversy, remaining there for nearly fifty years. Her avant-garde approach to art and fashion, quick-witted repartees, and flamboyant appearance combined to distinguish her as a major writer and eccentric personality. Edith's appearance and highly publicized personal vendettas were largely responsible for her striking image as a high priestess of modern poetry. Nearly six feet tall, she invented her own fashions, donning flowing robes, turbans, and huge aquamarine rings to accentuate her height and large features. Her lightning-quick responses, usually witty and often venomous, invited banter from critics and the press. Her better-known adversaries included D.H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis and Noel Coward. Edith was also generous, however, in her support for new, young writers. Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Aldous Huxley greatly benefited from her encouragement and promotional schemes.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Primarily manuscript letters written by Dame Edith Sitwell to Geoffrey Singleton concerning poetry, appointments, and social affairs. In one 14 page letter, Dame Sitwell praises and critiques a manuscript from Singleton. In another letter, she discourages Singleton from departing to America unless he obtains a guaranteed university position.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Preferred Citation

[Item description]

Edith Sitwell Correspondence, 1922-1964 (Cage 4793)

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Purchased from George Robert Minkoff, Inc. in 1993.

Related Materials

Thomas Balston Papers of the Sitwells, 1924-1960 (Cage 9)

Siegfried Sassoon Papers of the Sitwells, 1918-1957 (Cage 165)

Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell Sitwell Papers, 1917-1972 (Cage 531)

Nina Hamnett Papers, 1914-1953 (Cage 534)

Stephen Tennant Papers, 1929-1977 (Cage 643)

Ada Leverson Letters from the Sitwells, circa 1920-1935 (Cage 4669)

Stephen Tennant Papers, 1945-1953 (Cage 4722)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Authors, English -- 20th century -- Correspondence.

Personal Names

  • Singleton, Geoffrey.
  • Sitwell, Edith, 1887-1964. -- Archives.