Dame Edith SITWELL DBE (1887-1964)

Edith Sitwell
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The Written Word

Spelling out the writers and poets

THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Dame Edith Sitwell, poet and critic, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews on the stage of the BBC Television Theatre.


Edith published poetry continuously from 1913, when her first poem The Drowned Suns was published in the Daily Mirror. Much of her work is abstract and is often set to music.


She became a proponent and supporter of innovative trends in English poetry and opposed what she considered the conventionality of many contemporary backward-looking poets. Her flat became a meeting place for young writers whom she wished to befriend and help: these later included Dylan Thomas and Denton Welch. She also helped to publish the poetry of Wilfred Owen after his death.

Edith Sitwell

Dame Edith Sitwell with Eamonn Andrews on This Is Your Life

Edith Sitwell's biography

In his biography of Dame Edith Sitwell, Avant Garde Poet, English Genius, writer Richard Greene briefly mentions this particular edition of This Is Your Life...


There was… one last event in her seventy-fifth birthday celebrations.


Francis had booked her on to This Is Your Life. Given that she had a heart murmur, Eamonn Andrews could not spring his usual surprise, as it might simply kill her – in which case the programme would need a different title. She was inclined to say no to the planned programme until she heard that her old maid Velma Leroy was making the journey from California.


Broadcast on 6 November, the show brought together Osbert and Sachie, her cousin Veronica Gilliat, Cecil Beaton, Arthur Waley, Geoffrey Gorer, George Cukor, and others. The sentimental climax was Velma Leroy’s declaration that Edith was ‘the world’s most marvellous woman’.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 201
  • Subject No: 202
  • Broadcast date: Tue 6 Nov 1962
  • Broadcast time: 7.55-8.25pm
  • Recorded: Mon 22 Oct 1962 8-8.45pm
  • Venue: BBC Television Theatre
  • Series: 8
  • Edition: 6

on the guest list...

  • Majorie Proops
  • Veronica Gilliat
  • Tom Driberg
  • Dr Arthur Waley
  • Geoffrey Gorer
  • Prof Anthony Bernard
  • Diana Mattias (Baroness de Bosmelet)
  • Cecil Beaton
  • Sacheverell Sitwell
  • John Robbins
  • George Cukor - via telephone
  • Velma Leroy
  • Sir Osbert Sitwell

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production team...

  • Researcher: John Dalzell
  • Writer: John Dalzell
  • Directors: Vere Lorrimer, Mark Patterson
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
Series 8 subjects: Rupert Davies > Kenneth Revis > Sydney MacEwan > Cleo Laine > Arthur Baldwin > Edith Sitwell > Ben Fuller > Robert Henry McIntosh > Mabel Lethbridge > Stephen Behan > Ruby Miller > Richard Attenborough > Daniel Kirkpatrick > Michael Wilson > Dick Hoskin > James Carroll > Uffa Fox > George Thomas Cummins > Hattie Jacques > Samuel Ironmonger Derry > Finlay Currie > Phyllis Lumley > Ben Lyon > Bertie Tibble > Zena Dare > Victor Willcox > Learie Constantine > Phyllis Holman Richards > Michael Bentine > Joe Loss > Gladys Aylward