Bedford, Sybille 1911–2006

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Bedford, Sybille 1911–2006

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born March 16, 1911, in Charlottenburg, Germany; died February 17, 2006, in London, England. Author. A longtime vice president of PEN, Sybille Bedford was acclaimed for both her fiction and nonfiction, which has been compared to the works of Henry James for its setting and style. Bedford was born near Berlin, Germany. Her father died when she was still a child, and afterwards she attended school in England for a time. When she was twenty, and still living with her mother, she moved to the town of Sanary on the French coast. There she met author Aldous Huxley, about whom she wrote the two-volume Aldous Huxley: A Biography (1973, 1974). Life with her mother had been hard because her mother was addicted to morphine and would make Bedford give her injections. A short marriage to Walter Bedford in 1935 (she would reveal in her autobiography that she was a lesbian) allowed her escape. She gained a visa and left the Continent for California and later Mexico. Some of this experience later found its way into some of her writings. Bedford did not start publishing books until she was in her forties, releasing The Sudden View: A Mexican Journey in 1953 (later retitled A Visit to Don Otavio: A Traveller's Tale from Mexico). This would be followed by the first of four novels, A Legacy, in 1956. The work was widely praised for Bedford's gifted writing style, and the author received notable plaudits from English writer Evelyn Waugh. Her fourth novel, the strongly autobiographical Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education (1988), was short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize. Named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1981, and elected a Companion of Literature in 1994, Bedford was an active officer in the literary association PEN, as well as England's Society of Authors and the Royal Society of Literature, where she was a fellow. Before her death, she managed to complete her last book, Quicksands: A Memoir (2005).



Bedford, Sybille, Quicksands: A Memoir, Counterpoint, 2005.


New York Times, February 27, 2006, p. A20.

Times (London, England), February 21, 2006, p. 59.

Washington Post, February 25, 2006, p. B7.

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Bedford, Sybille 1911–2006

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