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Record 18657

Reading Experience:

'I have just read Prince Hempseed for the first time. I do hope you don't mind my writing to you about it, because I think it is such a fine book and I was deeply moved by it. It seems to me to be more alive psychologically than any novel by a living English writer that I have read, and one would have thought that even the impenetrable stupidity of the British public would have been pierced by the terible sincerity and truth of this book. But I suppose you've had the usual kind of abuse. I couldn't have believed, until I read Prince Hempseed, that any book about a child could be so interesting; but this goes beyond interest, and all I can say is, if the English people would read this book properly, they might become less brutish. It's an awful thing to think of poor sensitive bewildered children being driven into life like this, amidst such hopeless loneliness. I hope you don't mind me saying all this; but, you see, I do thinkthe book is such a fine achievement that I can't help telling you so. I wonder if Dr. Henry Head has read it. He's always saying he wishes someone would write a really fine book about a child's psychology....At least he said so on the few occasions when I have met him....'
Century: 1900-1945
Date: 12 Mar 1924
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: city: London
specific address: possibly 2 Carlyle Square, Chelsea SW3
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Edith Sitwell
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Female
Date of Birth 7 Sep 1887
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: Poet
Religion: Christian
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Sydney Schiff
Title: Prince Hempseed
Genre: Fiction
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: Written under the pseudonym of Stephen Hudson, published in 1923
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 18657  
Source - Print  
  Author: Edith Sitwell
  Editor: Richard Greene
  Title: Selected Letters of Edith Sitwell
  Place of Publication: London
  Date of Publication: 1998
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 18-19
  Additional comments: Letter written from 23 Carlyle Square, Chelsea SW3; the home of Edith's brother Osbert Sitwell.

Citation: Edith Sitwell, Richard Greene (ed.), Selected Letters of Edith Sitwell (London, 1998), p. 18-19,, accessed: 23 April 2024

Additional comments:

A passionately expressed letter which may tell us as much about Edith herself as about her reflection on Schiff's text. Beyond her poetry,Edith was prone to embed her own feelings of childhood loneliness and separation in her biographical works and literary criticism. Throughout her life, Edith also had an ambivalent and sometimes antagonistic relationship with the 'British public' and literary circles and 'I suppose you've had the usual kind of abuse' may again be self referencing. Schiff had previously (1918) helped to finance Osbert Sitwell's publication Life and Letters and was well known in modernist circles. Edith would subsequently develop a friendship with both Schiff and his wife, Violet. Sir Henry Head (1861-1940) was a neurologist whose work was well known within the literary and social circles of the time and, with a reputation for radical opnions, he was of great interest to the Bloomsbury Group.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)