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Boston College collection of Edith Sitwell

Collection MS-1986-079: Boston College collection of Edith Sitwell


  • Creation: 1935 - 1964

Scope and Contents

The collection includes Edith Sitwell's manuscript versions of poems such as "The Outcasts", "At the Cross-Roads", and "The Queen of Scotland's Reply to a Reproof from John Knox", as well as drafts for many of the poems that would become Street Songs. Additionally there are notes, prose, and other writings.

The correspondence contains letters by Sitwell to friends, literary peers, and publishers. Of note are letters between Sitwell, D. O'Connell, SJ, and lawyer Ferdinando Bosi concerning Guido Masti, a caretaker of the Castle of Montegufoni, which Osbert Sitwell owned during World War II. The Sitwells credited Masti with the safe return of art masterpieces to museums which had been hidden at Montegufoni during the war, and they hoped to gain state recognition for Masti's efforts.

Also included is Sitwell's obituary as it appeared in The Observer Weekend Review (1964) written by Stephen Spender.


Language of Materials

English and Italian

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Edith Louisa Sitwell was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England on September 7, 1887. She was the eldest child and only daughter of Sir George Reresby Sitwell, Fourth Baronet, and his wife Lady Ida Emily Augusta Denison Sitwell. Sitwell and her two brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, became known for their avant-garde literary work.

Sitwell was a poet, critic, and biographer. She published one of her earliest poems, "Drowned Suns," in The Daily Mirror in 1913 and her first volume of poetry, The Mother and Other Poems in 1915. Some of her other lyrical works include Clown's Houses, The Wooden Pegasus, Façade, and Bucolic Comedies.

Sitwell gained wide recognition in 1923 following her controversial reading of Façade, which was the result of her collaboration with composer William Walton. Some of her best known works are Bucolic Comedies, The Sleeping Beauty, and Troy Park. Sitwell also wrote a biography of Alexander Pope in 1930 and began to receive acclaim for her work. She received the Royal Society of Literature medal in 1933, along with honorary degrees from Leeds University, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Oxford, and Sheffield University. In 1954 she was made Dame of the British Empire.

Sitwell converted to Catholicism in 1955 and continued to publish, including a biography about Queen Elizabeth of England and Queen Mary of Scotland called The Queen and the Hive.

Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell died on December 9, 1964 at the age of 77.


Cevasco, G. A.. "Sitwell, Dame Edith Louisa (1887–1964)." In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, May 2006. (accessed April 9, 2007).


0.5 Linear Feet (1 container )


This collection of papers concerns twentieth-century British poet and author Edith Sitwell. It is comprised of correspondence, manuscript drafts of poems and other writings, and an obituary.


Arranged in three series. I. Writings; II. Correspondence; and III. Obituary


Purchase (1983); and gift of Victoria Glendinning (prior to 1986) and Francis Sweeney, S.J. (1993).

Related Materials

Graham Greene papers, MS.1995.003, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Philip Caraman, S.J. papers, MS.1998.030, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Separated Materials

Published works associated with this collection have been transferred within the Burns Library and can be found in the Boston College Library catalog.

Boston College Collection of Edith Sitwell
Erin Edwards, 2004; updated by Amy Braitsch, April 2007; and Ray Hartley
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States