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Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1894-1983) UK philanthropist and author, born Annie Winifred Ellerman; she had begun to use Bryher as a pseudonym before the publication of her first book, Region of Lutany (1914 chap) – which was poetry – and eventually took the name by deed poll; she normally wrote simply as Bryher. Her philanthropic activities extended through much of the twentieth century, and included financial support for figures as wide-ranging as Sigmund Freud preparing in 1938 to go into exile, James Joyce and Edith Sitwell. From Beowulf (1948) on, she concentrated mostly on the historical novels for which she is best remembered. Of sf interest is Visa for Avalon (1965), set mostly in an unnamed Near Future territory (it is clearly England) about to be transformed into a punitive Dystopia. The cast, almost miraculously, manages to catch the last flight to Avalon, an Island where the phenomenal world – the tale, richly Imagist after the manner of her early work, is saturated with the sights and smells of beloved enclaves, mostly in Cornwall, which are about to be developed into factories – may still freely reward the senses. In the last sentence, after the cast experiences moments of death-like Transcendence, the plane lands safely in Avalon. [JC]

Winifred Bryher

born Margate, Kent: 2 September 1894

died Vaud, Switzerland: 28 January 1983


  • Visa for Avalon (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World/Helen and Kurt Wolff, 1965) [hb/Harris Lewine]


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