The Nightingale Silenced, transcribed by her nephew Jim Pratt from three previously unpublished manuscripts, offers a unique account of the last years of Margiad Evans’ life, which was irreversibly changed by the onset of epilepsy at the age of 41.
The first part, Journal in Ireland (1949) tells of a joyous and inspirational holiday, free from epilepsy. The second, Letters to Bryher (1949-1958) is a selection from letters to Evans’ friend and benefactor Winifred Ellerman (the English author Bryher). They contain a vivid account of her pregnancy, the birth of her daughter, her frustration at the impact of her illness on her writing, and finally resignation at the terminal nature of her condition. The third part, The Nightingale Silenced (1954), is an evocative and harrowing memoir describing her experiences as an inpatient after her condition became acute. The book closes with five of her poems, written during her final months in hospital, which she intended to publish with The Nightingale Silenced. She died at only 49 in 1958.
This new compilation from a courageous young novelist and poet of great promise, silenced too soon, is an enlightening example of writing on the experience of terminal illness.
Margiad Evans (1909-1958) born in Uxbridge but got her inspiration from the Herefordshire Welsh Border country. Although two earlier volumes of Evan’s autobiographical prose, Autobiography (1943) and A Ray of Darkness (1952) have been available for decades, her later unpublished works are finally accessible. her novels Creed (1936) and The Wooden Doctor (1933) have been published by Honno in the Welsh Women's Classics series.
You can read more about Margiad Evans in an article by Jim Pratt for the Honno blog.
The Nightingale Silenced is the twenty-ninth publication in the Welsh Women’s Classics series, an imprint that brings out-of-print books in English by women writers from Wales to a new generation of readers.