Virago £12.99 (532pp) £11.69 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Edith Sitwell: Avant Garde Poet, English Genius, By Richard Greene
Remembered mainly for her contribution to William Walton's Façade of 1921, made via the Sengerphone (megaphone made from compressed grass), Edith Sitwell seems incredibly ancient and odd. Yet she met Monroe ("an innocent fertility-daemon") and was a subject on This Is Your Life, though Greene notes that the surprise pounce of Eamonn Andrews was omitted, "as it might simply kill her – in which case the programme would need a different title".
Greene's insistence that she produced "the best poems written in English during the war" is not substantiated but his enjoyable portrait disinters a fascinating figure who was the public face of poetry in the Fifties.
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