Dame Edith Sitwell was a woman of her time (she was born in 1887) and Class (the English Aristrocracy); Intelligent, sometimes intolerant and sarcastic, opinionated and talented. This is the story of her life, from her truly dreadful childhood where her unloving and truly hateful parents attempted to force this free spirit to conform … both physically and mentally so that she should become ‘just like everybody’ else (fortunately, she resisted all these attempts) through WW1, and into the twenties and thirties. Never quite part of the famous ‘Bloomsbury’ set, nevertheless her mentions of the friends (and enemies) is a bit like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Arts of that time, Adous Huxley, Gertrude Stein, Dylan Thomas, D H Lawrence, George Cukor, Ethel Barrymore. There are also many scathing mentions of those whose work she does not value, and though she doesn’t always mention names … some of them are recognisable from her descriptions (and certainly would have been known by her contemporaries!) … and she is very scathing – and very bitchy and amusing about some of these. Her life story is fascinating .. but sometimes, finding that story is a little difficult in this book as it also includes a smattering of some more technical sections of ‘poetic analysis’ where she attempts to explain her experiments in poetry writing, using changes in meter, rhyme, assonance and dissonance to create unusual sound patterns; she was well known for this, and as such was probably one of the founders of modern poetry writing breaking away from the strictly rhythmical and lyrical poetry of earlier times, she does this using sections of her own and other poet’s work as examples. This is intriguing and interesting for those who like or who are interested in poetry – but do, I think, somewhat interrupt the flow of her own personal story. However, despite this I really enjoy finding out more about this extraordinary woman, and she earned my respect and affection through this book. She shows immense compassion, insight and humour. I was surprised that many of her thoughts and observations about the 1920s and 1930s (regarding particularly ambition, aspiration, the slavish following of fashion, the celebrity culture, vulgarity and decadence, immense wealth and dire poverty) are still resonant today. Not for the faint hearted, but a very interesting life story, as well as being a masterly study of Class and the Arts of the early part of the 20th Century, from one of the luminaries of the time.