|Birth Day:||September 20, 1902|
|Death Date:||Mar 7, 1971 (age 68)|
As per our current Database, Stevie Smith died on Mar 7, 1971 (age 68).
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She began working as a secretary at London's Newnes Publishing Company in 1923.
Smith wrote three novels, the first of which, Novel on Yellow Paper, was published in 1936. Apart from death, common subjects in her writing include loneliness; myth and legend; absurd vignettes, usually drawn from middle-class British life; war; human cruelty; and religion. All her novels are lightly fictionalised accounts of her own life, which got her into trouble at times as people recognised themselves. Smith said that two of the male characters in her last book are different aspects of George Orwell, who was close to Smith. There were rumours that they were lovers; he was married to his first wife at the time.
Smith's first volume of poetry, the self-illustrated A Good Time Was Had By All, was published in 1937 and established her as a poet. Soon her poems were found in periodicals. Her style was often very dark; her characters were perpetually saying "goodbye" to their friends or welcoming death. At the same time her work has an eerie levity and can be very funny though it is neither light nor whimsical. "Stevie Smith often uses the word 'peculiar' and it is the best word to describe her effects" (Hermione Lee). She was never sentimental, undercutting any pathetic effects with the ruthless honesty of her humour.
After she retired from Sir Neville Pearson's service following a nervous breakdown she gave poetry readings and broadcasts on the BBC that gained her new friends and readers among a younger generation. Sylvia Plath became a fan of her poetry and sent Smith a letter in 1962, describing herself as "a desperate Smith-addict." Plath expressed interest in meeting in person but committed suicide soon after sending the letter.
Though her poems were remarkably consistent in tone and quality throughout her life, their subject matter changed over time, with less of the outrageous wit of her youth and more reflection on suffering, faith and the end of life. Her best-known poem is "Not Waving but Drowning". She was awarded the Cholmondeley Award for Poets in 1966 and won the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry in 1969. She published nine volumes of poems in her lifetime (three more were released posthumously).
When Stevie Smith was three years old, she moved with her mother and sister to Palmers Green in North London where she would live until her death in 1971. She resented the fact that her father had abandoned his family. Later, when her mother became ill, her aunt Madge Spear (whom Smith called "The Lion Aunt") came to live with them, raised Smith and her elder sister Molly and became the most important person in Smith's life. Spear was a feminist who claimed to have "no patience" with men and, as Smith wrote, "she also had 'no patience' with Hitler". Smith and Molly, raised in a family of women, became attached to their own independence, in contrast to what Smith described as the typical Victorian family atmosphere of "father knows best".
Smith died of a brain tumour on 7 March 1971. Her last collection, Scorpion and other Poems was published posthumously in 1972, and the Collected Poems followed in 1975. Three novels were republished and there was a successful play based on her life, Stevie, written by Hugh Whitemore. It was filmed in 1978 by Robert Enders and starred Glenda Jackson and Mona Washbourne.
Currently, Stevie Smith is 119 years, 2 months and 8 days old. Stevie Smith will celebrate 120th birthday on a Tuesday 20th of September 2022.
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