Thompson, Sylvia (1902–1968)

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Thompson, Sylvia (1902–1968)

English writer. Born on September 4, 1902, in Scotland; died on April 27, 1968; daughter of Norman Thompson; attended Somerville College, Oxford; married Theodore Luling (an artist), in 1926; children: three daughters.

Selected works:

Rough Crossing (1921); The Hounds of Spring (1926); The Battle of the Horizons (1928); Breakfast in Bed (1934); (with Victor Cunard) Golden Arrow (play; 1935).

Sylvia Thompson was born in Scotland in 1902 and raised in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England, in an upper-class family. She was well educated at Cheltenham, then entered Somerville College in Oxford. Drawn to writing at an early age, at 16 she published her first novel, Rough Crossing (1918), the story of a flapper. A Lady in Green Gloves appeared in 1924, the year after Thompson left Somerville without finishing a degree. Her third novel, The Hounds of Spring (1926), about a young woman whose fiancé turns up after being declared missing and presumably dead during World War I, was a bestseller. After its appearance, Thompson was confirmed as a new literary talent, although her works were written solely as entertaining escapism concerned with the private lives of the British elite.

In 1926, she married an American artist, Theodore D.P. Luling; the couple had three daughters and lived for a time in Venice, but returned to England shortly before World War II. Thompson had published new novels every year or two until the war. Her works were consistently popular with British readers and were praised by many critics for her characterizations and plot development, though they were also derided by some for a lack of substance. Her Breakfast in Bed (1934) did attempt a deeper commentary on the English class system, but the following work, A Silver Rattle (1935), returned to escapist plot formula as did most of her remaining books and her one play, Golden Arrow (1935). Written with Victor Cunard, the play was performed at London's Whitehall Theater, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Thompson wrote few new works after 1945, instead concentrating on raising her family. She died in England in 1968, at age 66.


Kunitz, Stanley J., and Howard Haycraft, eds. Twentieth Century Authors. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1942.

Seymour-Smith, Martin, and Andrew C. Kimmens, eds. World Authors, 1900–1950. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1996.

Laura York , M.A. in History, University of California, Riverside, California

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Thompson, Sylvia (1902–1968)

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