London: Hutchinson, 1965. First edition. Royal octavo (9 1/4 inches tall), original beige cloth with black spine roundels, blue top edge, printed endpapers, original dust jacket. Fine. Item #309
"I HAVE ATTACKED NOBODY, UNLESS THEY FIRST ATTACKED ME" First edition of Dame Edith Sitwell's tart autobiography, published shortly after her death, with two dust jacket photos and frontispiece portrait by Cecil Beaton. Sitwell, along with her younger brothers Osbert and Sacheverell, formed a notorious literary triumvirate. Sitwell was sensitive to criticisms and used these pages as a vindication, to reward her friends and champions and skewer almost everyone else. But she also takes the time between settling scores to comment on poetic inspiration: "the experience of the poet during the first inception and creation of a poem (here I am speaking of a poet in full command of his craft not of a poet slowly finding his way) is akin--I say this with all humility--to the experience of the Saint--but of a Saint who has not yet shed all the trappings of earth." She closes with brief and positive sketches of her time spent in New York and Los Angeles. Sitwell became a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1954 and she "was finally received into the Catholic Church in August 1955. She asked Evelyn Waugh to be her godfather and he recorded in his diary how she had appeared on the day of her reception 'swathed in black like a 16th century Infanta.'" (Joseph Pearce). A footnote is appended to her brief Preface: "Dame Edith Sitwell died on December 9th, 1964, shortly after writing this preface." The endpapers reprint Sitwell's obituary in the London Times the following day and the text is supplemented with additional photographs and illustrations.