Myfanwy Piper

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Bust of Myfanwy Piper

Mary Myfanwy Piper (/məˈfɑːnw/;[1] Welsh: /məˈvanuj/; 28 March 1911 – 18 January 1997) was a British art critic and opera librettist.


Mary Myfanwy Evans was born on 28 March 1911 into a Welsh family in London. Her father was a chemist in Hampstead, north London. She attended North London Collegiate School, where she won a scholarship to read English Language and Literature at St Hugh's College, Oxford.

From 1935 to 1937, she edited the periodical Axis which was devoted to abstract art. She married the artist John Piper in 1937, and lived with him in rural surroundings at Fawley Bottom, Buckinghamshire (near Henley-on-Thames) for much of her life.[2]

Between 1954 and 1973 she collaborated with the composer Benjamin Britten on several of his operas, and between 1977 and 1981 with composer Alun Hoddinott on most of his operatic works. She was a friend of the poet John Betjeman, who wrote several poems addressing her, such as "Myfanwy"[3] and "Myfanwy at Oxford".

She and John Piper had two sons and two daughters. Her elder son, painter Edward Piper, predeceased her in 1990.[4]

Myfanwy Piper died at her home in Fawley Bottom on 18 January 1997.[4]

Opera libretti[edit]


  • The Seducer, Søren Kierkegaard play in two acts, based on Kierkegaard's The Seducer’s Diary, 1843

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Iowa Public Radio Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Frances Spalding, John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in art. Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-956761-4.
  3. ^ "myfanwy" at
  4. ^ a b David Fraser Jenkins, Obituary: Myfanwy Piper. The Independent, 22 January 1997.

External links[edit]