Sir Francis Osbert Sitwell & Dame Edith Sitwell Signed Letter Renishaw Hall & Badminton
Interesting pair of letters from Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell, 5th Baronet (1892-1969), and his sister Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell (1887-1964), undated but circa 1945. Osbert has written on Marlborough House stationery crossed out and written Badminton, Gloucestershire. Edith's letter is on her family home embossed stationery for Renishaw House. The letters are regarding changing text in one of their books because as Edith says "it might give some donkey a longed for opportunity of saying we are mentally unhealthy".
"My dear Conty
Both Edith and I like those pages so much - I asked her to return them, as i was afraid of losing them, and they arrived only 2 hours before I left Renishaw.
I was so xxx to learn of the 18000. I call it a failure all right.
I have been working at some xxx, and part of it - only earlier in time - coincides with the atmosphere xxx xxx in the pages you sent me.
This is rather an xxx letter, written before breakfasr!
We just want you to alter or xxx 2 words"
My dear Conty,
Osbert has just gone to Badminton, to stay with Queen Mary, and has asked me to send you the enclosed, [no longer present] because he is terrified of losing it.
We both think it is really charming. There is only one tiny phrase we want to ask you if you will take out: it is the two words "almost sick" (dissonance), on the third page from the end. We only would like that taking out, because it might give some donkey a longed for opportunity of saying we are mentally unhealthy. (You know that they are! Donkeys) I mean!
It is a charming picture, and so amusing and full of character. I love the part about Sachie [her brother] teasing Major Birchwell, and about Father, and it gives a very good picture of Mother too. We like it all very much.
How are you? I do hope as well as anyone could be in this miserable, shameful war. When we are all in London again, do let us meet. I don't believe I shall find you are in the least changed. I am, I suppose, in some ways, though not fundamentally.
How is Anne? Please give her my love, and ask her, one day when she is not too busy, to write to me.
The Sitwells were devoted to art and literature. They grew up along with their younger brother Sacheverell in the family seat at Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire.
Osbert devoted himself to poetry, art criticism and controversial journalism. Together with his brother, he sponsored a controversial exhibition of works by Matisse, Utrillo, Picasso and Modigliani. The composer William Walton also greatly benefited from his largesse (though the two men afterwards fell out) and Walton's cantata Belshazzar's Feast was written to Sitwell's libretto. He published two books of poems: Argonaut and Juggernaut (1919) and At the House of Mrs Kinfoot (1921). In the mid-1920s he met David Stuart Horner who was his lover and companion for most of his life. Sitwell suffered from Parkinson's disease from the 1950s; by the mid-1960s this condition had become so severe that he needed to abandon writing. He died on 4 May 1969 in Italy, at Montegufoni, a castle near Florence which his father had bought derelict in 1909 and restored as his personal residence.
Edith was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. Like her brothers Osbert and Sacheverell, Edith reacted badly to her eccentric, unloving parents, and lived for much of her life with her governess. She never married, but became passionately attached to the gay Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew, and her home was always open to London's poetic circle, to whom she was unfailingly generous and helpful.
Edith published poetry continuously from 1913, some of it abstract and set to music. With her dramatic style and exotic costumes, she was sometimes labelled a poseur, but her work was praised for its solid technique and painstaking craftsmanship.
She never married, but in 1927 she allegedly fell in love with the gay Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew. Edith lived from 1961 until her death in a flat in Hampstead in London.
Queen Mary stayed at Badminton House for much of World War II. Her staff occupied most of the building, to the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort's inconvenience. Afterward, when the Duchess of Beaufort, who was Queen Mary's niece, was asked in which part of the great house the Queen had resided, she responded "She lived in all of it."
Renishaw Hall is a country house in Renishaw in the parish of Eckington in Derbyshire, England. It is a Grade I listed building and has been the home of the Sitwell family for over 350 years.
Largest Size: 23 x 18 cm approx