The Nightingale Silenced
Previously unpublished work from the acclaimed author of several great classics
Margiad Evans (1909 – 1958), essayist, memoirist, novelist and poet, was born in Uxbridge but got her inspiration from the Herefordshire Welsh Border country. First published in 1932 her writing career was curtailed in 1950 when a previously a-symptomatic brain tumour induced an epileptic response whose effects became increasingly intrusive and serious over the last eight years of her life. This book of three unpublished works spans that period. She died at the age of 49.
The book starts with an account of a joyous and inspirational holiday, free from epilepsy, It goes on to describe her stay in a specialist epilepsy unit where her severe symptoms were controlled by drugs and finally the last eight years of her life are vividly portrayed through a series of letters to her friend and benefactor, the English author Bryher. These letters provide an account of her spiraling decline from positive optimism, through her pregnancy and the birth of a daughter, to frustration at her self-judged inability to write and publish, and finally resignation of the terminal nature of her condition.
The combination of these three disparate unpublished sources into one book shed light on the cruel fate which befell this talented young author and robbed us of “one of the finest prose writers in English” of the 20th century.
20 February 2020