itle: Lolly Willowes and Mr. Fortune's Maggot, ...
Publisher: Chatto and Windus
Publication Date: 1966
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: 1st Edition
First single volume edition.(8), 310 printed pages. 2 full-page engraved plates by Reynolds Stone. Signed by the author in ink on front free endpaper, in large flowing hand. Original brick red cloth. Gilt lettering on spine (very slightly rubed at top). Complete with original, unrestored, Reynolds Stone decorated, un-price clipped, dust jacket (very slightly worn at the corners and head/tail of spine; tiny dark spot on outer edge of front panel; hinges very slightly worn with two short closed tears at the top). Sylvia Townsend Warner's first novel (first published in 1926) begins with 28-year-old Lolly Willowes being sent, "as if she were a piece of family property forgotten in the will", to live with her brother and his family after the death of her father. She is "so useful and obliging" but after 19 years finds her senses dulled and her mind "groping after something that eluded her experience". Escape beckons when she decides to move to the village of Great Mop in the Chilterns. 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. Lolly Willowes calls for "a life of one's own" three years before Virginia Woolf's impassioned cry for a room. "We have more need of you," she explains to the devil. "Women have such vivid imaginations, and lead such dull lives. Their pleasure in life is so soon over; they are so dependent upon others, and their dependence so soon becomes a nuisance." With its clear feminist agenda, Lolly Willowes holds its own among Townsend Warner's historical fiction, but it's also an elegantly enchanting tale that transcends its era. Townsend Warner was an unconventional lesbian. For her, inter-war women's potential was what mattered most. Sylvia Townsend Warner's wondrous novel was her attempt to show the world the unfulfilled potential that was to be found in women who were tied to hearth and home. Women were 'sticks of dynamite' waiting to explode on to the world stage but so often denied the chance. Women, says Lolly to the devil, "know they are dynamite" and simply long for "the concussion that may justify them". For Townsend Warner, this "concussion" came a few years after the triumphant publication of Lolly Willowes. She fell in love with the poet Valentine Acland, and spent the rest of her life in Dorset. From the 1930s to 70s, she contributed short stories to the New Yorker. She died in 1978. The novel remains Townsend Warner's chief claim to fame, though her life as a lesbian and a communist gives her biography a frisson of passion and politics. Set in Baskerville, Bulmer & Weiss types. Printed in USA by Vail-Baillou Press. Adapted in 2021 by feminist playwright, Sarah Daniels for broadcast on BBC Radio Four. Mr. Fortune's Maggot is about a South Sea Island missionary and his only convert, Lueli, a beautiful but wayward boy. Provenance: from the collection of British book illustrator, Pat Marriott's late nephew, among several signed for him, a family friend. Seller Inventory # 5134