|"I longed for companionship rather,
But my companions I had always wished farther.
And now in the desolate night
I think only of the people I should like to bite."
Stevie Smith (1902-1971) was born Florence Margaret Smith in Hull, England but soon after moved to London and lived in Palmers Green until her death at age 69. Her only job was with the magazine publishers Newnes-Pearson where she was private secretary to Sir George Newnes. She wrote her first novel, Novel On Yellow Paper when she was 33 and later, a volume of poetry. All in all, she wrote 4 novels and had many collections of poems published. She also made recordings of her own poetry, reading and singing to her own music; and often accompanied her poems with childish, idiosyncratic drawings.
From A Good Time Was Had By All (1937)
From Mother, What Is Man? (1942)
From Not Waving But Drowning
From Poems (1962,1966)
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But first, Reader, I will give you a word of warning. This is a foot-off-the-ground novel that came by the left hand. And the thoughts come and go and sometimes they do not quite come and I do not pursue to embarrass them with formality to pursue them into a harsh captivity. And if you are a foot-off-the-ground person I make no bones to say that is how you will write and only how you will write. And if you are a foot-on-the-ground person, this book will be for you a desert of weariness and exasperation. So put it down. Leave it alone. It was a mistake you made to get this book. You could not know. And it is not to be proud, I say: I am a foot-off-the-ground person; or to be superior that I say: Foot-on-the-ground person - Keep out. It is to save you an exasperation and weariness that have now already hardly brought you to this early page. But if you do not know whether you are a foot-off-the-ground person or a foot-on-the-ground person, then I say, Come on. Come with me, and find out.
(Stevie Smith in "Novel On Yellow Paper")
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