University of Mississippi

Stevie: A Biography of Stevie Smith

Jack Barbera and William McBrien’s delightful biography of Stevie Smith–one of the most fascinating and original English literary figures of this century–captures the essence of a remarkable woman and her impact on the literary scene. Drawing on a wealth of private and archival materials, they present the fullest and most convincing portrait yet of her life and work. They depict the unhappiness of her long childhood exile in the hospital with tuberculosis, her father’s abandonment of the family, and her mother’s early death. The authors also paint a rich portrait of her adult life, spent almost entirely in a genteel North London suburb and shared with a beloved aunt. Although Stevie gained international recognition with the publication of Novel on Yellow Paper in 1936, she continued to work for more than 30 years as a secretary in a publishing house. In the 1960s, she enjoyed a new wave of recognition as a performer, broadcaster, and literary reviewer, receiving in 1969 the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Replete with anecdotes from Stevie’s friends and excerpts from her work, this biography offers new insights into the charm and paradox of a unique poet as well as into her writings and the world in which she moved.