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This report is taken from PN Review 177, Volume 34 Number 1, September - October 2007.

A Celebration of Charles and Nora Sisson, 9 June 2007 Clive Wilmer

'O gentile Engleterre, a toi j'escrits'
John Gower

We arrive at a middle-sized seventeenth-century house on the main street of a very small west-country town. Just one further house separates it from the fourteenth-century church, the elegant tower rather taller than average, though typical of this part of Somerset. The front door we enter by is centrally placed and leads into a house of traditional floor-plan, services to one side of a screens passage, dining room on the other. At the back a modern sitting-room, no doubt an extension, opens through French windows into the dream of an English garden, terraced and to all appearances luxuriantly fruitful, beyond it the dream of an English landscape, a fertile plain with a river running through it and, as if to punctuate the view, another medieval tower. This is Muchelney Parish Church on the River Parrett, and the Somerset town we see it from is Langport.

Moorfield Cottage - it is a shade grander than the word 'cottage' suggests, but none the less a modest sort of house - was for thirty years the home of C.H. Sisson and his wife Nora, née Gilbertson. Born in the same year, 1914, they met at the age of thirteen and married ten years later, both of them dying in 2003. Poet, critic, polemicist, translator and one of the four founders of PN Review, Charles Sisson was otherwise a distinguished Civil ...


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