Elizabeth Smart

 'Non Omnis Moriar'

1913 - 1986

 

Elizabeth Smart is buried in St. George's Churchyard, Saint Cross, South Elmham, Suffolk, England. 
 

Photograph by Cameron Self

Smart was born in Ottawa in Canada - the daughter of an attorney and she began to write poetry at an early age

She famously fell in love with fellow poet George Barker after reading a volume of his poems. She subsequently began to correspond with him and finally engineered for him and his wife to visit her in California. This proved to be the start of a two year affair and resulted in her having four of Barker's children: Georgina, Christopher, Sebastian and Rose Emma. (In total Barker fathered 15 children by different women.)

In 1943 Smart moved permanently to England and in 1945 she published her famous passionate, prose poem By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. This was based on her affair with Barker and was described by Brigid Brophy as: "shelled, skinned, nerve-exposed".

Morrissey used many lines from Grand Central Station in The Smiths songs such as: Reel Around the Fountain, Shakespeare's Sister, London and Louder than Bombs.

After retiring as a copywriter and journalist in London, she moved to rural North Suffolk where she wrote prolifically. By this time George Barker was married to the novelist Elspeth Barker and lived across the border at Itteringham in Norfolk. Although they never married or lived together, Smart's relationship with Barker continued until her death in 1986.

Elizabeth Smart's collections of poetry include: Ten Poems (1981), Eleven Poems (1982) and In the Meantime (1984). After her death, her journals were edited by Alice Van Wart.

In 1991 a documentary about her life entitled On the Side of the Angels appeared  - starring Jackie Burroughs as Smart.

That day I finished
A small piece
For an obscure magazine
I popped it in the box
 
And such a starry elation
Came over me
That I got whistled at in the street
For the first time in a long time.

from A Bonus

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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