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Within a year, Lolly Willowes had become the talk of the town. Today, Townsend Warner holds her place in this series as a proto-feminist who is. Sylvia Townsend Warner’s novel Lolly Willowes is an act of defiance that gladdens the soul. Put simply, it’s the story of a woman who. Sylvia Townsend Warner’s first novel (published in ) begins with year-old Lolly Willowes being sent, “as if she were a piece of family.

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Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. My paternal grand-mother went back to school in her sixties.

Removed from their frames, Warner reveals in her play with a Leonardo portrait, a Henry Fuseli painting, and a woodcut of a witch hunter, the often stealthy interpenetrations between the realms of aesthetics and politics, narrative, and witchcraft.

Even brief biographical blurbs usually reference her leftist political affiliations and sometimes her year relationship with Valentine Ackland, a poet. Laura, relieved, meets Satan at Mulgrave Folly and tells him that women are like ‘sticks of dynamite’ waiting to explode and that all women are witches even ‘if they never do anything with their witchcraft, they know it’s there — ready! It was a wicked sound.

This is the witty, eerie, tender but firm life history of a middle-class Englishwoman who politely declines to lo,ly the expected connection with the opposite sex and becomes a witch instead. There was no question of forgiving them. And here, this satirical social commentary takes a turn towards the fantastic as Lolly sells her soul to the devil — “a kind of black knight, wandering about and succouring decayed gentlewomen” — and becomes a witch.

The best novels: No 52 – Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner () | Books | The Guardian

View all 4 comments. I’m sure this will appeal to others despite my lackluster words, for not all have my difficult standards when it comes to paroxysms of insatiable glee. However, James dies suddenly of a heart attack and Lady Place is rented out, with the view that Titus, once grown up, will return to the home and run willoowes business.


British writer Sylvia Townsend Warner is best known for the short stories that appeared over decades in The New Yorker. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Sylvia Townsend Warner also writes delightfully witty descriptions: This article needs additional citations for verification.

On returning to her lodgings, she discovers a kitten, whom she takes to be Satan’s willoes, and names him Vinegar, in reference to an old picture of witches’ familiars. She never thought of them as being in any way beautiful. Feb 01, Book of the Month added it. Her first major success was the wlllowes Lolly Willowes.

She found a job by chance: Willowes is the story of Aunt Lolly This was not what I expected at all. Today, Townsend Warner holds her place in this series as a proto-feminist who is also a major minor classic. Against the wishes of her extended family, Laura moves to Great Mop and finds herself entranced and overwhelmed by the lollg hills and beech woods.

Hurrah for women’s rights! There are few alternatives for a woman who desires to be independent but living on her own in a town of people called Great Mop. Laura had always enjoyed her quiet life in the country, sometimes gathering herbs and making distillations with them. Or is that what happened? There was no sound, for the birds had left off singing and the owls had not yet begun to hoot.

Lolly Willowes – Wikipedia

And Laura, brought up in these traditions, is at first passive in the face of them: The titular Lolly is a spinster, living with her pleasant but frustrating family. The novel is really about how important it is for women to have lives of their own, but Townsend Warner developed her theme by taking us into a world where it seems perfectly logical for the wi,lowes to meet the devil while out strolling through the woods.

An all-too-rare perspective, presented with every sympathy. And I expect to lklly back to share those delusions with her many times in the future. Jul 19, Tony rated it liked it Shelves: If she were to start forgiving she must needs forgive Society, willoees Law, the Church, the History of Europe, the Old Testament, great-great-aunt Salome and her prayer book, the Bank of England, Prostitution, the Architect of Apsley Willowez, and half a dozen other useful props of civilisation.


Now, while I believe it is a valuable way for a much belittled demographic to hone both their penning skills and self-confidence in as free a way as the Internet affords it’s how I acquired the claws Wlllowes stretch so nicely todayI do not conscientiously seek it out.

I think of her as my guardian witch, wit Laura Lolly Willowes rejects men and societal conventions in order to move to the country and become a witch.

The 100 best novels: No 52 – Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926)

Hard to lol,y, easy to read. Born some years after her two elder brothers; Henry and James, Laura grew The story itself is tender and a little magical, and I simply adored the character of Lolly Willowes herself. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Then, “groping after something”, she makes a willowrs for personal freedom, an escape to Great Mop, “a secluded hamlet in the heart of the Chilterns”, where she finds herself happily becoming a witch in communion with the devil.

Impossible to say much without giving away the treasures to be discovered in these pages. I think of her as my guardian witch, with whom I feel completely at home. View all 33 comments. Her soul — when no one else would give a look at her body even!