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The Sitwells

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John Singer Sargent, The Sitwell Family, 1900. Private collection. From left: Edith Sitwell (1887–1964), Sir George Sitwell, Lady Ida, Sacheverell Sitwell (1897–1988), and Osbert Sitwell (1892–1969).
Group photograph with four clean-shaven white men and one woman in full-length frock
In 1926: left to right Osbert, Edith, Sacheverell, William Walton, and, with the Façade megaphone, Neil Porter of the Old Vic.
Blue plaque on Wood End in Scarborough, one of the family homes of the Sitwells

The Sitwells (Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell), from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, were three siblings who formed an identifiable literary and artistic clique around themselves in London in the period roughly 1916 to 1930. This was marked by some well-publicised events, notably Edith's Façade with music by William Walton, with its public debut in 1923. All three Sitwells wrote; for a while their circle was considered by some to rival Bloomsbury, though others dismissed them as attention-seekers rather than serious artists.[1]

Wheels anthologies[edit]

The first Sitwell venture was the series of Wheels anthologies produced from 1916.[2] These were seen either as a counterweight to the contemporary Edward Marsh Georgian Poetry anthologies, or as light 'society verse' collections.[citation needed] They did not really match the Imagist anthologies of the same years, or the modernist wing, in terms of finding poets with important careers ahead of them,[citation needed] but included both Nancy Cunard and Aldous Huxley.

Wheels 1916[edit]

Nancy Cunard, Arnold James, V. T. Perowne, Helen Rootham, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Edward Tennant, Iris Tree

Wheels 1917[edit]

Aldous Huxley, Arnold James, Helen Rootham, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Edward Tennant, Iris Tree, Sherard Vines

Wheels 1918[edit]

Álvaro Guevara, Aldous Huxley, Arnold James, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Iris Tree, Sherard Vines

Wheels 1919[edit]

Aldous Huxley, Arnold James, Wilfred Owen, Francesco Quevedo, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Iris Tree, Sherard Vines

Wheels 1920[edit]

John J. Adams, Leah McTavish Cohen, Geoffrey Cookson, Aldous Huxley, Alan Porter, William Kean Seymour, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Sherard Vines

Wheels 1921[edit]

H. R. Barber, Aldous Huxley, Charles Orange, Alan Porter, Augustine Rivers, Paul Selver, Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Sherard Vines

Coat of arms[edit]

Barry of eight or and vert, charged with three lions rampant sable. The motto is Ne cede malis (Latin: Yield not to misfortune).[3]


Wood End, the former family home of the Sitwells in Scarborough has been redeveloped into a "creative industries centre" providing artists' workspace as well as administrative and learning spaces.[4] Weston Hall in Northamptonshire, owned by the Sitwell family, was sold in 2021.[5]

A large collection of the Sitwells' papers reside at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas, Austin.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pearson, John. Facades: Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell Sitwell (1978)
  2. ^ Cevasco, G. A. "Sitwell, Dame Edith Louisa (1887–1964), poet and biographer", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2009 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  3. ^ Townend, Peter (ed.). Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (103rd Edition). Burke's Peerage Limited. pp. 2237–2238.
  4. ^ "Scarborough Museums site". Archived from the original on 9 August 2007. Retrieved 23 August 2007.
  5. ^ Weston Hall and the Sitwells: A Family Legacy
  6. ^ The Sitwell Collections at the Harry Ransom Center

Further reading[edit]

  • The Sitwells, Sarah Bradford, published in 1996 by the National Portrait Gallery to accompany the exhibition "The Sitwells and the arts of the 1920s and 1930s"; hardback ISBN 1-85514-140-X; paperback ISBN 1-85514-141-8
  • Renishaw Hall: The Story of the Sitwells, Desmond Seward; hardback published by Elliott & Thompson, 2015
  • A Nest of Tigers: The Sitwells in Their Times, John Lehmann (1968)
  • Facades: Edith, Osbert, and Sacheverell Sitwell, John Pearson (1978)

External links[edit]