Who knows what she is thinking? An annotated selection of Stevie Smith's poems and drawings
MetadataShow full item record
Stevie Smith, born Florence Margaret Smith in 1902, was one of the most popular English poets of the Sixties, remembered for her idiosyncratic style of writing and sense of sound; distinct drawings (with which she illustrated her poems); eclectic and very learned use of literary echoes and allusions; memorable readings (and singings); and schoolgirl attire. She lived in her London suburb at 1 Avondale Road, Palmers Green, from age three until her death. Her work is included in anthologies of modern poetry, and her novels, Novel on Yellow Paper, Over the Frontier, and The Holiday, are part of Virago’s “Modern Classics” series and still in print. All of her prose works – novels, stories, essays, and reviews – contain pieces of her poetry. She used French, German, and Latin in her work, reading widely in these languages. An astute reader of the Bible and admirer of hymns, she was brought up in the Church of England but proclaimed herself agnostic after finding herself unable to reconcile God’s love with the doctrine of eternal hell. Her English schooling, including writers such as Shakespeare, Crashaw, Dryden, Pope, Wordsworth, and Tennyson, informed her writing, as did nursery rhymes, proverbs, and children’s stories, notably Grimms’ fairy tales and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Animals and children are often characters in her poems; she cared deeply for them, though she believed she would have failed at having her own. This annotated selection of 75 poems, drawn from each of her original volumes, uses the true first editions as the copy-text and includes textual variants from drafts and later editions and printings. Her best-known poem, Not Waving but Drowning, is among those selected. Full-page scans from the first editions give the drawings that accompanied the poems. References, echoes, and allusions are identified just beneath the text of the poem for easy comparison. Glosses provide definitions for obscure or dated words, and an introductory essay discusses her life and work, giving an overview of how and why she came to write the way she did.
Please note: this work is permanently embargoed in OpenBU. No public access is forecasted for these. To request private access, please click on the lock icon and filled out the appropriate web form.