Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893–1978) was a poet, short-story writer, and novelist, as well as an authority on early English music and a member of the Communist Party. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes (available from New York Review Books), appeared in 1926 and was the first ever Book-of-the-Month Club selection. Mr. Fortune’s Maggot, her second, followed a year later. The Salutation was the title novella of a 1932 collection. According to Warner’s biographer Claire Harman, it “was almost certainly begun in the expectation that it would grow into a full-length novel, a sequel, or an extended coda” to Mr. Fortune’s Maggot. Yet it also stands on its own, and Warner considered it “the purest, the least time-serving story I ever wrote.” Over the course of her long career, Sylvia Townsend Warner published five more novels, seven books of poetry, a translation of Proust, fourteen volumes of short stories, and a biography of T.H. White.
Mr. Fortune, Sylvia Townsends second novel, is lyrical, droll, and deeply affecting, and her missionary captivated his creator as much as he did her readers.
Townsend Warner brings 19th-century Paris to pungent life in this thrilling novel of a proper Victorian aristocrat’s political and emotional awakening among the barricades. “Her best book.”—Sarah Waters
In Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner tells of an aging spinster’s struggle to break way from her controlling family—a classic story that she treats with cool feminist intelligence, while adding a dimension of the supernatural and strange.