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This article is taken from PN Review 23, Volume 8 Number 3, January - February 1982.

Sylvia Townsend Warner and The New Yorker William Maxwell

The American poet Jean Starr Untermeyer told Sylvia Townsend Warner repeatedly-they were friends-that she ought to submit something to The New Yorker. In order to prove that The New Yorker would not publish her, for she was irritated by this nagging, she did submit something, a hilarious story called 'My Mother Won the War'. The war in question was purely local, the battleground a Red Cross committee where two equally strong-minded women were locked in combat over whether the soldiers' pajama trousers should or should not have a button on them. It appeared in the issue of 30 May 1936. Over the next four decades The New Yorker published one hundred and fifty-four stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner, and nine poems.

Mrs E.B.White, her first editor, went to live in Maine, and I inherited Miss Warner. I met her for the first time when she came to The New Yorker office in the fall of 1939. She was dressed in black. Her voice had a slighty husky, intimate quality Her conversation was so enchanting it made my head swim. I didn't want to let her out of my sight. Ever. The dimensions of the Second World War were not yet clear, but there wasn't much to be optimistic about. The British Embassy in Washington was encouraging British subjects who happened to be abroad at that time to stay there rather than return and become another mouth to feed. I urged her to stay in the United States, ...


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