The Sitwells

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John Singer Sargent, The Sitwell Family, 1900. From left: Edith Sitwell (1887–1964), Sir George Sitwell, Lady Ida, Sacheverell Sitwell (1897–1988), and Osbert Sitwell (1892–1969).

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.

Wheels anthologies[edit]

The first Sitwell venture was the series of Wheels anthologies produced from 1916. These were seen either as a counterweight to the contemporary Edward Marsh Georgian Poetry anthologies, or as light 'society verse' collections. 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, but included both Nancy Cunard and Aldous Huxley.

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).[1]


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.[2]

There is a coffee shop in Cincinnati, Ohio, named Sitwell's Coffee House in honour of Edith Sitwell.

A large collection of the Sitwells' papers reside at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas, Austin.[3]

A poem by Ogden Nash contains a reference to the family: "How many miles to Babylon? / Love-in-a-mist and Bovril. / Are there more Sitwells than one? / Oh yes, there are Sacheverell."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Townend, Peter (ed.). Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (103rd Edition). Burke's Peerage Limited. pp. 2237–2238.
  2. ^ "Scarborough Museums site". Archived from the original on 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
  3. ^ the Sitwell Collections at the HRC

Further reading[edit]

  • The Sitwells—published 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—by Desmond Seward; hardback published by Elliott & Thompson, 2015

External links[edit]