Sybille Bedford

Standard Name: Bedford, Sybille
Birth Name: Sybille Van Schoenebeck
Nickname: Billi or Billy
Married Name: Sybille Bedford
SB was a largely twentieth-century writer who worked on the boundaries between fiction and fact. Her three initial novels (which create fictional characters partly from people in Bedford's own family or circle, and which evoke with particular historical vividness the political atmosphere of the times, recent but not contemporary, in which they are set) culminate in a memoir-novel which is one step closer to autobiography, and a twenty-first century memoir which separates autobiography from fiction. SB has also written biography, accounts of travel, and reports of celebrated trials, as well as reviews and articles on food, wine, and books.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Family and Intimate relationships W. H. Auden
The writer Sybille Bedford , who was herself at this date beginning to consider marriage as a route to a British passport, reported that Auden stood up well to the experience of meeting Erika on...
Friends, Associates Ivy Compton-Burnett
The novelist Sybille Bedford finished writing a fan letter to ICB which had taken her more than a month: it laid the foundation for an enduring friendship.
Spurling, Hilary. Secrets of a Woman’s Heart. Hodder and Stoughton.
Friends, Associates Aldous Huxley
AH and his first wife were good friends to the young would-be writer Sybille van Schoenebeck (who later, as the successful author Sybille Bedford , was retained by his family to produce a biography in...
Intertextuality and Influence Barbara Pym
While at boarding school and Oxford , BP was heavily influenced by the novels of Aldous Huxley , whose books inspired her to become a writer.
In this she resembles an otherwise entirely different writer,...
Literary responses Rosamond Lehmann
Auberon Waugh likened A Sea-Grape Tree to pulp romance, The Times thought it unintentionally absurd, and Lorna Sage called the main characters paper people. Thoughtful and positive comments from Elizabeth Jane Howard
Literary responses Muriel Spark
The book received mixed reviews, the most damning in the New York Review of Books.
Stannard, Martin. Muriel Spark. The Biography. Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
But its admirers included D. J. Enright (who in the New Statesman called this Spark's best, her richest...
Literary responses Hannah Arendt
Sybille Bedford called this book relentlessly abstract, and slow, cluttered, static, curiously oppressive, like the life its protagonist lived, hedged round with feminine frustrations.
Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth. Hannah Arendt. For Love of the World. Yale University Press.
Julia Kristeva , who pays close attention to it...
Literary responses Elizabeth Jane Howard
EJH says of The Light Years, as of several of her later books, that it was published to a fairly quiet reception. As the tetralogy progressed, interest in it grew; the books sold very...
Publishing Elizabeth Jane Howard
She submitted the manuscript to the Ouspensky Society , of which she was at the time a member, and they insisted on some insignificant cuts. She was finding she could not make a living on...
Reception Aldous Huxley
She gives an account of the death of Huxley's first wife, Maria, of the loss of his home (containing all his books and papers) to a fire in 1961, and of conversations she had with...
Textual Production Penelope Fitzgerald
A volume of PF 's letters appeared in print in 2008, edited by her son-in-law Terence Dooley and titled So I Have Thought of You, with a preface by A. S. Byatt . The...


1826: The Royal Society of Literature received...

Writing climate item


The Royal Society of Literature received its charter; it had been founded several years previously.

1 January 1916: The British edition of Vogue (an American...

Building item

1 January 1916

The British edition of Vogue (an American fashion magazine) began publishing from Condé Nast in Hanover Square, London.

1923: Post-war inflation in Germany grew so high...

National or international item


Post-war inflation in Germany grew so high that a new German mark was introduced, the Rentenmark, worth one billion of the former marks.


Bedford, Sybille. A Compass Error. Collins, 1968.
Bedford, Sybille. A Favourite of the Gods. Collins, 1963.
Bedford, Sybille. A Legacy. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1956.
Bedford, Sybille. Aldous Huxley. Chatto and Windus, 1974.
Bedford, Sybille. Aldous Huxley. Knopf; Harper & Row, 1974.
Bedford, Sybille. As It Was. Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990.
Bedford, Sybille. Jigsaw. Hamish Hamilton, 1989.
Bedford, Sybille. Jigsaw. Penguin, 1990.
Bedford, Sybille. Jigsaw. Penguin, 1999.
Bedford, Sybille. Quicksands. Counterpoint, 2005.
Bedford, Sybille. “Stoic Traveler, 14 November 1963”. New York Review of Books.
Bedford, Sybille. The Best We Can Do. Collins, 1958.
Bedford, Sybille. The Faces of Justice. Collins, 1961.
Bedford, Sybille. The Sudden View. Gollancz, 1953.