Stevie Smith: A Biography by Frances Spalding
Stevie Smith is best known for "Not Waving But Drowning", one of the English speaking world's favourite poems. Born in Hull as Florence Margaret Smith, her family moved to Palmers Green in 1905, and she lived there until her death on 7 March 1971. After her death, a film starring Glenda Jackson and a play were written about her life, bringing widespread revival among her readers. This biography reveals a new side of Stevie Smith's character, and demonstrates that her solitude has been overstated: she was actively involved in the social as well as intellectual life of literary London. She began writing poetry in her twenties while working as secretary. Her first book, "Novel on Yellow Paper", was published in 1936 and drew heavily on her own life, examining the unrest in England during World War I. Until the last ten years of her life, she remained virtually unknown, when she was then awarded the Cholmondeley Award for Poetry, and the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry. This work reveals how the events of Stevie Smith's life had a profound effect on her poetry, and that her life and art formed a very intimate relationship.