The Fall of a Sparrow, a new work on the life and writings of Vivien Eliot by Ann Pasternak-Slater, is published by Faber & Faber today. Based on a rich repository of primary evidence, much only recently uncovered, it corrects the accidental inaccuracies and deliberate distortions that have circulated around one of Bloomsbury’s most gossiped-about, enigmatic couples, while unveiling fascinating new discoveries that give a more balanced understanding of both partners. For the first time, too, immaculate texts of Vivien’s own writing are presented, carefully distinguished from Eliot’s input, which demonstrate a fresh and wry talent all of her own.
Part I is a meticulous biography of Vivien, which also necessarily documents in detail the most formative elements of Eliot’s life. Part II is a scholarly edition of Vivien’s writings which document the couple’s early playful collaboration and the development of Vivien’s independent laconic narrative style. Part III, available digitally on tseliot.com, provides a full transcript of Vivien’s four surviving diaries and other manuscripts, spanning 1914-1936, which focus directly on her daily life and increasingly troubled mind. Part III is available here.