This is a selection from Dr. Sitwell's private notebooks. It includes essays on prosody, the role of the poet, the nature of poetry, and includes her full length work 'A Notebook on William Shakespeare', as well as discussion of Chaucer, Herrick, Wordsworth, Pope and Byron amongst others.The section on Shakespeare consists of essays on the general aspect of the plays - those great hymns to the principle and the glory of life. There are long essays on King Lear, Macbeth, Othello,and Hamlet. Miss Sitwell believes, with all humility, that she has discovered new sources of the inspiration of King Lear, throwing a new light on the whole play , and giving us new meaning to the mad scenes, of an unsurpassable grandeur, depth and terror. There are essays on many of the comedies, and long passages about the Fools and Clowns, all of which serve to illiminate Shakespeare's mighty and many-sided genius.
Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was born into an aristocratic family and, along with her brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, had a significant impact on the artistic life of the 20s. She encountered the work of the French symbolists, Rimbaud in particular, early in her writing life and became a champion of the modernist movement, editing six editions of the controversial magazine Wheels. She remained a crusading force against philistinism and conservatism throughout her life and her legacy lies as much in her unstinting support of other artists as it does in her own poetry.