The Element of Lavishness

Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell, 1938–78. Uncorrected proof.


Michael Steinman, editor


Counterpoint, Washington, D.C., 2001
The Element of LavishnessThe Element of LavishnessThe Element of Lavishness

Printing Details

Uncorrected proof / Bound Galley, first edition. paperback. 21 × 13.5cm, 347pp.

Over the course of forty years, the English writer Sylvia Townsend Warner and New Yorker editor William Maxwell exchanged more than thirteen hundred letters. Their initially formal relationship soon grew into a real, unshakeable love, and their transatlantic correspondence became the most intimate and most significant of their lives. As Maxwell once wrote, "Sylvia needed to write for an audience, a specific person, in order to bring out her pleasure in enchanting," and Maxwell was that person, both as editor and as correspondent. Warner brought out the best in Maxwell too: "I suspect that of all the writers I edited, I was most influenced by Sylvia. I think that what you are infinitely charmed by you can't help unconsciously imitating." In these letters, now artfully edited by Michael Steinman, they wrote about everything that amused, moved, and perplexed them—the contents of their attics, the raising of children, the New York City blackout, the Cuban missile crisis, what they were reading, the coming of old age, anything and everything, the stuff of life itself. Gratitude and love are on every page, both for each other and for the things of this world.


Very good condition.



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