T H White: A Biography
Sylvia Townsend Warner (Author)
DescriptionT H White, author of the much-loved The Sword in The Stone, The Once and Future King, The Goshawk, and many other works of English literature, died in Greece from a heart attack in 1964, aged 57. When the eminent novelist and critic Sylvia Townsend Warner heard of his death she wrote in her diary: ‘T H White is dead, alas! – a friend I never managed to have.’ Warner was invited by White’s executors to write his biography. She visited his home in Alderney in the Channel Islands to see what material was available and felt that he followed her around in his house; ‘his angry, suspicious, furtive stare directed at my back, gone when I turned around’. When she finished his biography, nearly three years later, she wrote, ‘O Tim, I don’t like to lose you … it has been a strange love story between an old woman and a dead man’. T H White. A Biography was published in 1967 and was Warner’s greatest critical success since her first novel, Lolly Willowes (1926). It reveals White’s passions: for life, for learning, for all animals and birds, particularly hawks and dogs; his self-exile to Ireland during the Second World War, the creation of his tetralogy The Once and Future King, and the unexpected wealth and fame that came from The Sword in the Stone, the Disney cartoon and the Broadway musical Camelot. Warner treats White’s repressed sexual predilections with humane understanding in this wise portrait of a tormented literary giant, written by a novelist and a poet. White’s writing on falconry was the inspiration for Helen Macdonald’s acclaimed H is for Hawk.
17 January 2023
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