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      Posthuman? Animal Corpses, Aeroplanes and Very High Frequencies in the Work of Valentine Ackland and Sylvia Townsend Warner



            The aim of this article is to establish the critical significance and value of work which was the product of the unique creative partnership developed by Valentine Ackland and Sylvia Townsend Warner during the 1930s. During that period, I argue, they imagined more variously and more incisively together, through mutual awareness and acceptance, than they would in all likelihood have done had they never met and fallen in love. An understanding of the sharp differences in temperament, outlook and reputation which precluded full-scale collaboration freed each of them, in turn, to pursue contrasting aspects of concerns held in common. So adventurous was that pursuit, at times, that it merits comparison with recent investigations of the idea of the ‘posthuman’. Since Warner was by far the more prolific author, I have tried to balance my account of her partnership with Ackland by drawing extensively not only on published fiction and poetry, but also on diaries and letters, and on a variety of other kinds of material from the archive.

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            The aim of this article is to establish the critical significance and value of work which was the product of the unique creative partnership developed by Valentine Ackland and Sylvia Townsend Warner during the 1930s. This was for both partners a period of a rich engagement not only with each other – and shared domestic circumstance in rural Dorset and Norfolk – but with the looming import of national and international crisis. During that period, I argue, they imagined more variously and more incisively together, through mutual awareness and acceptance, than they would in all likelihood have done had they never met. An understanding of the sharp differences in temperament, outlook and reputation which precluded full-scale collaboration freed each of them, in turn, to pursue contrasting aspects of concerns held in common. Since Warner was by far the more prolific author, I have tried to balance my account of her partnership with Ackland by drawing extensively not only on published fiction and poetry, but also on diaries and letters, and on a variety of other kinds of material from the archive.

            Their first (and only) formal declaration of creative partnership was Whether a Dove or Seagull, a collection of poems written between 1927 and 1933, 54 by Warner, 55 by Ackland, published in the United States in 1933 and in Britain in 1934. An opening statement made it plain that the volume was not ‘collaborative’, but rather ‘both an experiment in the presentation of poetry and a protest against the frame of mind, too common, which judges the poem by the poet, rather than the poet by the poem’.1 The experiment was not enough of a success to merit resumption. However, by evolving further in different guises, the partnership continued to shape the kinds of imaginative enquiry each undertook individually. The most decisive of those guises was membership, from the beginning of 1935, of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). As Wendy Mulford has shown, Ackland and Warner became ‘writers in arms’ against Fascism and in support of Republican Spain.2 Glyn Salton-Cox, mindful of their devotion to Lenin, describes them as exponents of a ‘queer vanguardism’. ‘Equally active in the Communist movement, they worked together on local, national and international campaigns, repeatedly and explicitly conceptualizing their relationship as a shared political engagement.’3 My focus here will be on their writing, published and unpublished, before, during and immediately after that period of shared political engagement.

            A preliminary reading of much of this material suggested that the customary approaches to the literature of the 1930s, although entirely justifiable in their own terms, will not do justice to its adventurousness. I have accordingly chosen to invoke instead current debates about the ‘posthuman’. According to Rosi Braidotti, the concept of the ‘posthuman’ amounts to an hypothesis about the ‘kind of subjects we are becoming’ – for better and worse – in the current conjunction of runaway capitalism, digital revolution and climate emergency: a topic likely to prove of especial (although by no means exclusive) interest to a branch of study designated the ‘humanities’.4 The theories informing that hypothesis are too various (and in some cases too intricate) to be summarised readily. But it is safe to say that they are likely to involve some account of the human relation either to technology, or to animals, or more likely to both.5 The adventures undertaken by Ackland and Warner in the 1930s often had to do with technology, or animals, or both.

            In 1985, Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’ drew vivid and decisive attention to the breakdown of boundaries not only between ‘organism’ and ‘machine’, but between ‘human’ and ‘animal’.6 Although the figure of the cyborg has lost some of its polemical force in an age of networked, programmable media, as Katherine Hayles points out, it is not quite ready for the scrapheap yet.7 Haraway’s equally compelling Companion Species Manifesto followed in 2003.8 She has continued to insist that human–animal encounters can generate ‘material-semiotic nodes or knots’ out of which arise creatures at once of ‘imagined possibility’ and ‘fierce and ordinary reality’.9 Like Haraway, Cary Wolfe, also writing in 2003, was able to draw on new developments in cognitive ethology – the comparative, evolutionary and ecological study of animal minds – when he argued that ‘the humanist habit of making even the possibility of subjectivity coterminous with the species barrier is deeply problematic.’ Cognitive ethology had shown that the capacities traditionally attributed to humankind (possession of a soul, or reason, then language, then tool use, then tool-making and so on) ‘flourish quite reliably’, as Wolfe puts it, ‘beyond the species barrier’.10

            What seems to me open to dispute about the concept of the posthuman is the built-in assumption that at some moment in (fairly recent) history one understanding of what it means to be human abruptly gave way to another. If so, the news has not yet reached most of us. According to a ‘well-known genealogy’ informing many approaches to the posthuman, the moment of rupture occurred during or by means of the Macy Conferences on cybernetics and information theory held in New York from 1946 to 1953.11 These new sciences reconfigured human consciousness from the ‘seat of identity’ to an ‘informational pattern’ which just happens to be ‘instantiated in a biological substrate’. They also envisaged the penetration of ‘computational process’ into every aspect of human experience, including the ‘construction of reality itself’.12 But it may be that there never was a moment at which we became posthuman. Cyborgs (or quasi-cyborgs) have been around for a while; as have networked (although strictly speaking not programmable) media.13 My aim is to show how Ackland and Warner first got wind, a couple of decades before the Macy Conferences, of the proposition that ‘humans are no longer the most important things in the universe’.14

            The key to the strength of their partnership lay, I believe, in the awareness each partner was able to develop of the imaginative possibilities of the roles enabled by it. ‘Yesterday I found a book on Bisexuality,’ Ackland wrote to Warner on 2 January 1931. ‘After reading it carefully I discover that you and I are admirably suited to each other.’15 There is good reason to think that the book was Bisexuality: An Essay on Extraversion and Introversion, by Theodore J. Faithfull, published in London in 1927.16 Faithfull is described on the title page as Principal of the Priory Gate School; he had evidently read a good deal of Freud. ‘How nice that we are bi-sexual,’ Warner responded.17 By bisexuality, Faithfull meant the bipolar presence in each individual of the ‘psychological attributes, instincts and desires generally attributed to males and females respectively’.18 Warner imagined a kind of physiological oscillation. ‘Do we do it in alternate spasms, do you think, like synchronised oysters … or is one both at once?’ One is psychologically bisexual, Ackland explained, not physiologically, ‘which would be dreadful’. She was thinking in the longer term. ‘Darling – do you want to have children? … Think it over seriously. Perhaps you had better read all about extroverts, which is me, and introverts, which is you, before you develop any new desires.’19 In Faithfull’s unorthodox use of the terms, an extrovert was a person whose ‘psychological sexual balance is in favour of the discharge of libido’; an introvert, by contrast, prefers to ‘retain’ and ‘receive’ it.20 The exchange demonstrates that from the very beginning of their relationship Ackland and Warner were investigating the kinds of performance uniquely available to the lesbian couple.

            Ackland had always worn the trousers. She was a serial seducer, ‘so skilled in love’, as Warner put it, ‘that I never expected her to forego love-adventures’.21 As Salton-Cox emphasises, Ackland regarded her ‘female masculinity’ – trousers and all – as an asset in her Communist organising.22 Warner stayed at home, remaining steadfastly faithful through all the affairs, at least one of which caused lasting mutual unhappiness. She noted that ‘Tib’ and ‘Tibby’ were names for the ‘domestic side’ of her character.23 She was, from the outset, the dove to Ackland’s seagull. An engagingly ribald Valentine’s Day verse by Ackland describes a Bishop motoring in the ‘lost locality’ of East Dorset, in the company of his chaplain and ‘plenty / Of chicken sandwiches’. The chaplain spots something amiss.

            ‘A seagull and a dove. How odd

            A pair!’ The Bishop shouted, ‘God

            Forbid such incongruity!’

            The Bishop sets off in angry pursuit of the odd couple, only to tumble into a ditch. At this point, St Valentine materialises, to confirm that the marriage, however unorthodox, is a happy one. ‘This seagull, and this dove, called Tib, / Are patterns of felicity.’ The Bishop, alas, sinks ever deeper into the mud. ‘Meanwhile an eel, by way of Finis, / Nibbled away his balls and penis.’24 My concern here is not with the marriage itself. It is, rather, with the readiness built into it to think and speak openly about diverse gender roles. That readiness enabled each partner to envisage, as Donna Haraway was to do 50 years later, creatures at once of ‘imagined possibility’ and ‘fierce and ordinary reality’.


            Ackland’s performance of the role of seagull-like ‘extravert’ acquired an enduring technological edge. Guns mediated her adjustment to country life. It was she who set about the rats in the barn at Frankfort Manor in Norfolk, which they rented for just over a year from July 1933. ‘She has only one request,’ Warner reported: ‘for more rats to shoot with her rifle. I could almost wish for more rats too, since today, failing other targets, she must needs put three bullets through a fine sleek swelling jargonelle pear, hanging harmlessly on the south wall.’25 Salton-Cox argues persuasively that Ackland’s marksmanship contributed to her view of herself as a ‘shape-shifting insider–outsider to the rural ruling classes’. He quotes diary entries from May 1935 which mingle comments on election results in France with reference to the study of Left Review poets and figures for the number of rabbits she has shot that day.26 But some, at least, of the rabbit-related entries assume a rather different tone. ‘Shot 4 rabbits – one shot each – & one at a good 50 yards off – clean through the head’ (15 May 1935). What is at issue here is expertise: the relation between technique and technology. For the totting-up proved relentless. By 21 October, Ackland had amassed a total of 100 rabbits shot in the year. She even drew a box around the figure to indicate a target achieved: proof, indeed, of expertise. And there was further cause for satisfaction. It looks to me as though she was using her concentration on marksmanship as a way to measure progress made in her long-drawn-out struggle against alcoholism. Each alcohol-free day is marked ‘D.D.’, for devoid of drink. In October 1935, she reached a century of abstentions, on very nearly the same day as she reached her century of rabbits. Technical expertise appears to have been enlisted as a form of moral self-discipline. Wildlife in general had, however, no reason to relax. On 2 November, she killed a partridge. ‘One shot – at running bird – hit him through breast.’27

            On 23 September 1930, Ackland drove Warner and a cargo of furniture down from London to East Dorset, where they shared a cottage in the remote village of Chaldon Herring. Warner could not help ‘abandoning’ herself to ‘a suavity of driving which was like the bowing of a master-violinist’.28 In July 1931, she rewarded that suavity by purchasing a second-hand Triumph two-seater at a cost greater than that of the cottage in which they were then living.29 On one occasion, an unwary garage mechanic took the Triumph out for a spin. Ackland became incensed. ‘I said I knew the noise of the engine, and that it must remain pure and unsoiled.’30 It was this (mildly fanatical) degree of attunement to the proper functioning of a still relatively new technology that ensured an exercise of technique as smooth as that of a master-violinist. Media theorists have always delighted in the study of the many and various collaborations between ‘life’ and ‘programming’ that together define the ‘essential technicity’ of a human being.31 Programming a machine, Ackland was herself programmed by it. As the boundary breaks down, Haraway observes, ‘our sense of connection to our tools is heightened.’32 Warner once spoke of longing to see Ackland’s body ‘limpeted to the car by trousers’.33 A cyborg, indeed. Ackland was subsequently to answer a CPGB call for volunteers by offering a lift to Spain to anyone willing to share her ‘small fast 2-seater’ (an MG Midget had by this time replaced the faithful Triumph).34 According to the AA’s Continental Road Map, she reassured Warner, the distance was only 850 miles. ‘That is very small indeed.’35 Fast cars, however, were by no means the only show in town – or even in rural Dorset.

            On 19 July 1932, Warner noted an unusual event which had taken place during the previous day. ‘Aeroplanes were flying over the house. The last went over with a fierce metallic clang, like a dragon.’36 There was nothing odd about aeroplanes, of course. Warner’s close friend David Garnett obtained his pilot’s licence on 24 September 1931, and by May 1932 was the proud co-owner (with Hamish Hamilton) of a plane. He had even got a couple of books out of it, The Grasshoppers Come (1931) and A Rabbit in the Air (1932). The Countryman, to which she contributed articles and poems, boasted a regular column on ‘The Country House Aeroplane’, which was mostly about how to land on the lawns of stately homes owned by one’s friends. The increase in air travel might inconvenience or even distress the ‘countryman’, the journal remarked, but he (and she) would just have to put up with it in the national interest.37 What Warner witnessed, however, was an event of a different order. The planes she heard were flying in formation.

            Royal Air Force exercises began at 6 p.m. on Monday 18 July and lasted twelve hours. Their purpose was to establish how effective fighter command would be in intercepting squadrons of bombers crossing the South Coast of England at points between Selsey Bill and Lulworth, and heading for targets in the Midlands: ‘the scheme is intended principally to afford combined tactical training for units of the Royal Air Force and (to a limited extent) to exercise the members of the Observers’ Corps.’38 Chaldon Herring is slightly to the west of Lulworth. My guess is that Warner had witnessed one of these squadrons passing overhead, having drifted slightly off course on its way north, on the evening of 18 July. It is hard to know what caused the ‘fierce metallic clang’ she heard as the last plane flew over. But there could be no mistaking the seriousness of the occasion. On 10 November 1932, Stanley Baldwin, speaking in the House of Commons on the eve of his departure for a disarmament conference in Geneva, popularised the axiom that ‘The bomber will always get through’.39 ‘By the mid-1930s,’ Brett Holman notes, ‘many people in Britain had come to fear what was sometimes referred to as the knock-out blow from the air: a sudden, rapid and overwhelming aerial bombardment of its cities, as impossible to predict as it was to resist.’40

            These long forgotten air exercises became an intermittent but unignorable feature of life in the house in nearby West Chaldon which Warner and Ackland rented from November 1934 to August 1937: a counterpoint to all the organising. On 30 July 1935, Ackland wrote to Warner: ‘My darling Dear, I m a bloody bad Communist – I should be doing the N-B [News Bulletin], but somehow I can’t make it go on.’ ‘The air’, she went on, ‘is busy with aeroplanes, and the valley full of voices.’41 On this occasion, the exercise involved an attack on London from west and east.42 The noise the planes made, blending with the voices in the valley, seemed to Ackland a welcome stir of activity, rather than a threat. Her pronounced interest in technology ensured a more subtle – or more ambiguous – response to these intimations of future warfare than Warner’s recourse to the figure of the dragon. In the pithy ‘Weymouth Manoeuvres, 1936’, she seems to grasp the force latent in defensive as well as offensive measures.

            Where, on the night, a stain of light

            Runs over, there shudders the fear we dread;

            The beam that lightly runs over the sky

            Is death – is a searchlight overhead.43

            The initial dislocating enjambement, so characteristic of Ackland’s poetic technique, leaves us not quite knowing where to look for evidence that the threat we anticipate has in fact taken shape. But the next two lines straighten out the idea of a light that ‘runs over’ by rendering it uncomplicatedly transitive. A light that runs over the sky is a light directed, a beam. This light runs ‘lightly’ over, I think, because Ackland is warming to the technical skills required to direct it. There will be further occasion for marksmanship. Few activities are more cyborgian that the direction of anti-aircraft fire. A semi-automated anti-aircraft gun is already a kind of analogue computer. In the Second World War both Claude Shannon, the founder of information theory, and Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics, worked on the design of such systems.44 Ackland, as we shall see, had long been attuned to the delights of the feedback loop.

            Very high frequencies

            The air above and around Ackland was ‘busy’, of course, not only with the sound of aeroplanes and voices, but also with electrical and magnetic fields travelling through space at the speed of light in the form of imperceptible waves. The discovery and measurement in the 1880s of what Friedrich Kittler terms the ‘Olympian frequency domain’, and its subsequent rapid exploitation at the beginning of the twentieth century, did almost as much to unsettle traditional understandings of consciousness as the seat of identity as the proliferation of networked, programmable media has done at the beginning of the twenty-first.45 In the light of such knowledge, all life became, as Gillian Beer has put it, ‘a medium, a discharge, a pathway’.46 During the twentieth century public awareness of electromagnetism was to be extended yet further in various directions, before finally reaching the end of the spectrum with the detonation of an atomic bomb in 1945.

            The lively interest Warner took in the still relatively new science of astrophysics brought her into touch with theoretical enquiry into the frequency domain at its most Olympian. ‘Rigel – a star infinitely brighter than the sun, and blue’, she noted in her diary on 11 May 1929. ‘I should like to see it.’ The next evening Warner had a date with her then lover, Percy Carter Buck (‘Teague’), director of music at Harrow School. ‘Teague came to dinner and listened with admirable meekness to my attempts to expound Mr Eddington’s views on limited space.’ Teague proved amenable to the star-gazing, as well. ‘Rigel came in most conveniently, for there is never any privacy about my intellectual amours.’47 Arthur Eddington, a leading astrophysicist and staunch advocate of the new physics of relativity and quantum mechanics, was ‘also, par excellence, the scientist whose writing attracted philosophers and the general public alike’.48 Warner may have been trying to expound to Teague Eddington’s claim that space is ‘finite but unbounded’.49 The astrophysics she seems to have taken in her stride, to judge by a poem which admires the ‘not believable blue’ of a distant star: Rigel, presumably.50

            Eddington did not believe in Rigel’s blue either. For him, colour was a subjective event. Science aimed to describe its counterpart, ‘electromagnetic wave-length’. ‘The wave is the reality – or the nearest we can get to a description of reality; the colour is mere mind-spinning.’51 That reality took many forms, from the ‘Hertzian waves’ of early wireless transmission at one end of the spectrum through visible light to ultra-violet, X- and gamma rays, at the other.52 By October, Warner was immersed in the latest book by Eddington’s great rival Sir James Jeans, The Universe Around Us (1929).53 He, too, had a great deal to say about the incommensurability of the frequency domain. ‘When a speaker broadcasts from London his voice takes longer to travel 3 feet from his mouth to the microphone as a sound wave, than it does to travel a further 500 miles to the north of Scotland as an electric wave.’54 Warner felt that she was lucky to ‘get in on the ground floor’ of the new science, before its hypotheses had hardened into assumptions.55

            ‘Radio, or more strictly because more broadly, wireless signalling’, Steven Connor observes, ‘unleashed a dream of absolute communication and universal contact.’56 The early 1930s was a period of radical experimentation in the use of the Very High Frequency range of radio waves (30 to 300 MHz) in particular – for broadcasting, but also, less familiarly, as we shall see, for air navigation. Broadcasting has long been acknowledged as a context for the literature of the period.57 For Warner and Ackland, however, the medium’s interest lay in its form rather than its content. What they both wanted and were afraid to hear was noise, not sound: the 500 miles between London and the north of Scotland rather than the 3 feet from mouth to microphone. Louise Morgan, interviewing Warner for a book on Writers at Work (1931), asked her about her love of music. Did she approve of reproductive technologies such as gramophone and radio? Warner preferred the gramophone. ‘It is more honest about its limitations … a useful little instrument like a potato-peeler. Wireless is so damned God-like, and cheats all the time.’58 Olympian in its powers, radio returns to the listener rather more than mere human input by way of bulletin and performance: the sound of the medium itself, of the frequency domain’s overlapping oscillations. Ackland’s ‘8th November 1936’ imagines a warm room, with paper and ink to hand: ‘only, as matching the threat of storm, / radio speaks to ear’.59 As a medium, radio belongs with the storm’s atmospheric disturbance rather than the merely human intention to communicate by letter. Officialdom’s attempts to naturalise broadcasting by means of a (male, middle-class) standard of delivery only incite attention to the disturbances thus suppressed. ‘June 1937’ speaks of familiar messages ‘from the air’ – a weather forecast, a report on the horrors of war – which are superseded by something altogether more menacing: ‘But what is this, untraceable messenger of woe?’60 A diary entry of 14 June 1940 makes it clear that Warner understood the larger implications of all this untraceable messaging. ‘But also, I think, the giving of news by wireless, which is non-geographical, has tended to give the war-news something of the quality of news of a pestilence. It has made it, in a fashion, an atmospheric rather than a territorial phenomenon.’61 The dragon-bombers over Chaldon Herring had already been, in their way, the news of a pestilence. Radio constituted a further (and imminently posthuman) conversion of territorial into atmospheric phenomena.

            Warner’s fiction has often and rightly been celebrated for its creation of atmosphere. It might be more accurate to say that she was the writer of the moment in history when the idea of atmosphere became unthinkable without the idea of atmospherics. Atmosphere, according to a version of posthuman theory to which she might not have been altogether unsympathetic, ‘seems to be awkwardly “there” in a space that is neither wholly within the environment, nor exactly within the person’. It precedes ‘any clear distinction between subject and object’.62 ‘The Salutation’, the title story of a collection published in 1932, is one of Warner’s most purely atmospheric, and a favourite of Ackland’s.63 It opens at sunset, on the Argentinian pampas.

            But it was still the hour of the siesta, for a while yet nothing would move but the sun and the shadows. All round the house, for miles and miles, though there was no ear to hear it, a continuous small sound existed – the crackle of the ripened sunflower seeds breaking from their envelopes.64

            Warner has transposed to the pampas the moment in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native (1878) when Eustacia Vye, wandering in the dark on Egdon Heath, hears the ‘worn whisper, dry and papery’, made by the ‘mummied heath-bells’ of the past summer.65 But her ‘crackle’, unheard by human ear, is a product of atmospherics, an event in the frequency domain. The inhabitants of the nearby grand house, re-awakening into human identity after the siesta, can know themselves only as one kind of creature among several of this all-encompassing atmosphere (‘finite but unbounded’). ‘A snake lay asleep on a stone, relaxed, its life narrowed into the pin-points of its eyes, and a bucket lay on its side, sleeping too.’66

            Ackland did not really do atmosphere. Her feeling about the frequency domain’s untraceable messengers was that they should be harnessed and put to work. A truly remarkable poem of 1932, included in Whether a Dove or Seagull, imagines a cyborg lesbian lover.67

            The eyes of body, being blindfold by night,

            Refer to the eyes of mind – at brain’s command

            Study imagination’s map, then order out a hand

            To journey forth as deputy for sight.

            Thus and by these ordered ways

            I come at you – Hand deft and delicate

            To trace the suavely laid and intricate

            Route of your body’s maze.

            My hand, being deft and delicate, displays

            Unerring judgment; cleaves between your thighs

            Clean, as a ray-directed airplane flies.

            Thus I, within these strictly ordered ways,

            Although blindfolded, seize with more than sight

            Your moonlit meadows and your shadowed night.68

            The startling neo-metaphysical conceit of the lover’s hand as ‘ray-directed airplane’ has a precise historical context. The planes that flew over Chaldon Herring in June 1932 were not guided to their targets by a directional radio beam. But the technology was available. In Germany in the early 1930s the Lorenz Company developed a system which made use of twin beacons, one transmitting Morse dots, the other Morse dashes, on frequencies between 66 and 75 MHz. Where the beams overlapped, the pilot heard a steady note. Aircraft flew down the steady-note zone until they arrived at the airfield.69 A similar system was installed at Croydon Airport, the first of several.70 Aircraft equipped with the appropriate receivers could as easily fly away from as towards a wireless beacon. On 3 July 1931, the Daily Herald reported that an Italian inventor, Mr R.C. Galleti, had been able to follow a ‘secret beam’ south from Manchester as far as Upper Heyford, near Oxford, by means of a receiver connected to a dial held on his knee.71 In such systems, the output generated by the plane’s forward movement is fed back to the pilot as input (data concerning its position) via the dial held on his knee. Similarly, in the poem, the lover’s hand follows a secret beam or ray transmitted at her brain’s command.

            Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’ puts a particular emphasis on the challenge posed by ‘high-tech culture’ to the distinction between human and machine. ‘It is not clear what is mind and what is body in machines that resolve into coding practices.’72 In Ackland’s poem, the lover programmes her hand to navigate a biological substrate understood as an informational pattern – as map or maze – thus demonstrating the essential technicity of human behaviour even (or especially) at its most instinctual. Love-making is not the only technique at issue. Ackland was at this time greatly exercised by her desire to be a poet. Here she deliberately boxes herself in by adopting a sonnet form laced yet more tightly into shape through the repetition of rhyme-words and phrases. The ‘strictly ordered ways’ are both those of the steady-note zone down which the lover’s hand must pass and those of the poem’s restriction by metre and rhyme. Only the most rigorous, self-correcting observance of informational pattern by the adjustment of line-length will deliver the final stanza’s unabashedly orthodox celebration of biological substrate in pentameter and pastoral. There is a technique to passion, and passion in technique.

            Like Warner, Ackland had always suspected that the frequency domain’s untraceable messengers would bring news of pestilence. In the autumn of 1940, the Luftwaffe shifted the burden of its night attacks away from London to the great industrial centres of the Midlands. On 14 November, a bomber force crossed the southern coast of Britain at Christchurch, which lies just to the west of the Isle of Wight, and well within the area demarcated by the 1931 exercise, on its way to attack Coventry. It was following the route laid down by an approach-beam transmitted from a station on the Cherbourg peninsula.73 These aeroplanes were ray-directed with a vengeance. One of Ackland’s most vivid war-poems, ‘Plane and Bugle-Call at Night’, set on a ‘warm May night’ in the early 1940s, associates the directedness of the bombers with that of bats.

            High in the air, chequered with lines of flight

            Black, of the bats new wakened into spring,

            The frail noise of the engines sounds, retreating

            Over the sleeping hills.74

            Bat sonar operates at Very High Frequencies inaudible to the human ear; so did the early radar systems developed in the mid-1930s. In an article published in Science in December 1944, Donald Griffin, a pioneer of cognitive ethology, put forward ‘echolocation’ as the term best describing the feedback systems that some human beings, some animals and some machines use to convert energy transmitted as a pulse into the data necessary to plot a position or trajectory.75 An understanding of the essential technicity of human being had begun to feed into an understanding of the essential technicity of animal being.

            Animal corpses

            Animals were ever-present in the lives Ackland and Warner led both separately and together. One of the most poignant items in the archive is a Valentine’s Day booklet Ackland handmade for Warner in 1948. The booklet’s miniature pages, bound with brass fasteners, contain poems on the theme of St Valentine as well as photographs of cats and dogs, some in Warner’s company, some not.76 Many more such photographs survive. William, a black chow, played as important a role in her life as Cayenne Pepper, an Australian Shepherd, was to in Donna Haraway’s. Animal companions are more or less ever-present in the fiction, too.77 But it is the corpses of dead animals, I will argue, that provoked her to radical reflection.

            For the interest Warner took in companion species was compatible with the most advanced contemporary thinking about animal intelligence. The July 1934 issue of The Countryman included, as well as Warner’s poem ‘Delectable Mountains’, a brief review of a recent book by the eminent biologist E.S. Russell, The Behaviour of Animals: An Introduction to Its Study.78 Russell set out to refute Descartes’ enduringly influential ‘mechanistic’ interpretation of animal behaviour as under all circumstances directly determined by immediate physical and chemical stimuli. On the contrary, Russell maintained, animal behaviour is ‘directive’ and ‘spontaneous’: ‘an active seeking of means or ends, a going out to look for food, or a plaything or a mate’. Furthermore, there should be ‘no great difficulty in thinking of animals as perceiving their surroundings, just as we ourselves live in worlds of our own perception’.79 Russell’s approach was functionalist. He wanted to know how an animal perceives its environment and what that perception might enable it to accomplish. Cognitive ethology today places a much greater stress on emotion and social behaviour.80

            Russell added to the second (1938) and subsequent editions of The Behaviour of Animals a chapter which adduces further evidence for the argument that animals take a very different view from ours of the environments they share with us. This, he wrote in conclusion, was a position also adopted by ‘J. von Uexküll and his school in their “Umwelt” theory’.81 The Estonian-German biologist Jacob von Uexküll had long maintained that all organisms experience life in terms of a species-specific, subjective, spatio-temporal frame of reference uniquely adapted to the environments they inhabit. That frame of reference he termed an Umwelt, or ‘surrounding world’. Umwelt theory made it possible to understand animals ‘not merely as objects but also as subjects, whose essential activities consist in perception and [the] production of effects’.82 Uexküll’s value to posthumanism lies in the challenge his work posed to assumptions concerning the uniformity of experience. As Giorgio Agamben notes, he warned consistently against our habit of imagining that ‘the relations a certain animal subject has to the things in its environment take place in the same space and in the same time as those which bind us to the objects in our human world.’83

            There is no evidence to suggest that Warner ever read Russell, let alone Uexküll. But her fiction of the 1930s certainly does attempt to imagine the other-than-human space and time in which an ‘animal subject’ sets about establishing a relation to the things in its environment. ‘The Best Bed’, for example, a treat tucked away at the back of The Salutation, maps the singular space and time in which a starving stray cat seeks shelter among things arranged for the convenience of human beings. This is not at all a philosophical creature, like the canine protagonists of Virginia Woolf’s Flush: A Biography (1933) and Paul Auster’s Timbuktu (1999). Warner remains outside him, closely observing his behaviour. Yet it would be hard to deny him subjectivity, as delight taken in his own prowess gives way to a seeking which, while no longer unreservedly active, remains more than mere instinct. ‘Though an accumulated fatigue smouldered in every nerve, the obdurate limbs carried him on, and would carry him on still, a captive to himself, meekly trotting to the place of his death.’84 The place he finds, which may not yet be that of his death, is a Christmas crib in a church. The story cuts through to the outside of humankind’s collective self-preoccupation. It turns the meaning presumed by ritual inside out to expose the contingency it strives perpetually to conceal.

            For Warner, remarkably, staunch Leninist though she was, propaganda did not preclude the mapping of animal Umwelten. ‘The Drought Breaks’, first published in Life and Letters in the summer of 1937, is a Spanish Civil War story told from point of view of Rafaela Perez, whose husband was summarily shot, and whose children were taken into care, when Nationalist troops captured the town in which she lived. Before we learn any of this, we have been introduced to a cat – another half-starved scavenger – ‘nosing in the gutters’ for something to drink. ‘Curious to think at all about a cat, curious to be so attentive to a grey cat slinking through the grey dusk.’ Rafaela’s thoughts understandably turn away from the cat to the fate of her husband and children. The next time she looks, it has gone.85 No sustained narrative meaning attaches to the animal. The ‘drought’ of the story’s title is a grand metaphorical affair which eventually ‘breaks’ when Republican bombers arrive overhead, bringing hope at the same time as death. What could be more humanly preoccupying than the bitter paradoxes of civil war? And yet the grey cat, taking its chances amid the symbolism human beings build obsessively into their world, has been attended to, in all its mere contingency. If there were ever to be a properly ‘posthuman’ war writing, this is what it might begin to look like.

            In 1945, Warner published an essay in Good Housekeeping on the ghosts that haunt memoirs, diaries and collected letters: ‘minor characters’ such as Gilbert White’s gardener or Lord Byron’s charwoman who ‘appear but once, exist only in half a dozen lines – but for all that, exist’. The essay concludes with a reflection on the linnet bought by Jonathan Swift’s Irish manservant, Patrick, as a present for Stella’s companion, Mrs Dingley, which Swift discovers hidden in the closet. ‘I believe he does not know he is a bird; where you put him, there he stands, and seems to know neither hope nor fears. I suppose in a week he will die of the spleen.’86 Delighted to have some news to share with Stella, Swift shuts the cupboard door. So much for the linnet, dead or alive. For all that, it exists – at least for those who, like Warner, have not been beguiled by Swift’s philosophising about its lack of philosophy. The linnet, too, shows us the outside of humankind’s collective self-preoccupation.

            Warner and Ackland knew that there is an emotional cost to companionship with animals. In March 1934, while they were living at Frankfort Manor in Norfolk, a ‘murrain’ or epidemic of pestilence carried off several of the cats with which they shared the house and grounds, including two kittens.87 The distress this episode caused them had to do, I think, with its selectiveness. They did not succumb to pestilence, of course; nor, less obligingly, did the rats in the barn. Warner made out of her distress a companion species manifesto to rival Haraway’s: the ‘Introduction’ to The Cat’s Cradle-Book, a collection of fables told by mother-cats to their offspring which was published in America in 1940 and in Britain in 1960. The fables are funny and instructive, in Aesopian fashion, in their cool dissection of the essential narcissism of human beings. But the ‘Introduction’, three times as long as any of them, is a different matter altogether. Part memoir, part romance, part polemic, it opens with the unnamed narrator’s arrival at a place very much like Frankfort Manor, to find a handsome young man and a tribe of cats in joint possession. The handsome young man quite closely resembles Valentine Ackland, and eventually makes love to the narrator on the lawn. By that time he has revealed himself as a student of the ‘culture of cats’. He believes that cat-culture is universal and age-old, owing little to human intervention, and promptly enlists the narrator in the project of assembling and curating narrative material drawn from a wide range of feline sources. A wonderfully Haraway-esque passage leaves it unclear as to whether he had once fallen in love with a diplomat’s wife or her Siamese cat (the latter, of course). Warner’s functionalism would have acknowledged that animals communicate effectively, but drawn the line at the idea that they possess a ‘culture’. Then the murrain strikes, killing most of the young man’s informants; he abandons the project and dies. This apocalypse effectively severs the stories which follow from any explanation of their origin. The severance is the point. Human beings might want to believe that ‘The proper study of catkind is man’, but the relevant expert testimony has just been killed by a disease to which human beings are immune.88 Each species endures its own fatality, its own helplessness in the face of accident. That is how we know that each must forever occupy an Umwelt of its own devising.

            Martin Heidegger, a careful reader of Uexküll’s early work, differed from him in supposing that animals, unlike humans, cannot transcend their ‘captivation’ by the Umwelten they inhabit; and therefore cannot know death ‘as such’.89 The fairly obvious implication of such a view is that animals can be ‘light-heartedly killed’ because, after all, they ‘merely perish’.90 Warner would have been on Uexküll’s side. For her, it is not death that distinguishes human from animal, but fatality. If death is the greatest leveller, then accident, from which no species is immune, cannot be far behind. Animals, however, have a whole other level of accident to confront: that imposed upon them by a species which kills not only for need and profit, but for the hell of it. Warner’s abiding concern with that fundamental difference in fatalities led her inexorably to the topic of animal death.

            While Ackland shot rats and rabbits, Warner was piling up animal corpses in her fiction with equally cheerful abandon. On 4 August 1926, she had written to David Garnett to report that in Mr Fortune’s Maggot she meant to kill a parrot during the course of an earthquake and dislodge a hive of bees. ‘But does one say hive for the wild bees, or is there a wilder word?’ In 1932, she was still at it in ‘The Salutation’. ‘I have killed a rhea for local colouring’, she told Garnett, ‘and put in some hens.’91 Whatever their cause, these deaths mark, for the reader, if not for the protagonists, the limits of atmosphere: the moment at which the Umwelt generated by Mr Fortune’s desire, in the novel, and his sorrow, in ‘The Salutation’, can no longer sustain itself. The Frankfort Manor pestilence undoubtedly darkened Warner’s mood. Some of her most compelling late stories, such as ‘Total Loss’, from A Stranger with a Bag (1961), and ‘But at the Stroke of Midnight’, from The Innocent and the Guilty (1971), turn on the tragic significance of animal corpses.92 But Warner was at her most radically ‘posthuman’, I would argue, when slipping animal fatality into After the Death of Don Juan (1938): a novel set in eighteenth-century Spain and intended to serve as an ‘allegory’ of the rise of Fascism.93 This particular dead or dying animal matters, like Patrick’s linnet, by eluding significance altogether.

            I want to build on Maud Ellmann’s argument that in After the Death of Don Juan the ‘closest thing to subjectivity’ resides in the Spanish landscape, ‘where human beings figure mainly as staffage, or emanations of its parched eviscerate soil’. Much the same could be said of the Argentinian landscape of ‘The Salutation’. In this case, however, the central issue is not an individual’s atonement through Umwelt, but the struggle for control over the means of production between ruling-class and proletariat, a struggle as bitter in the 1930s as it had been in the 1760s. The plot concerns the pilgrimage to the remote region of Tenorio Viejo undertaken by Doňa Ana and her husband Don Ottavio in order to inform Don Juan’s father, Don Saturno, that his son, who has killed her father in a duel, has been dragged down into hell by a crew of demons; or so the Don’s valet, Leporello, maintains. The novel begins as a comedy of manners sparked by feuding among the landed gentry and their variously resentful retainers; it ends on the verge of tragedy, as the villagers arm themselves to storm Don Saturno’s castle, where Don Juan, the Fascist revenant, has taken charge. During these later stages, Ellmann observes, a stichomythic interplay of voices renders the ‘chorus of the common people in their harsh surroundings’.94

            The final act (as it were) of the comedy of manners takes place in the church in Tenorio Viejo, where Doňa Ana has elected to conduct an all-night vigil in the company of her duenna, Doňa Pilar: ostensibly in her father’s honour, but in fact to sharpen yet further her desire for Juan, whom she cannot believe dead. As dawn breaks Pilar hears a cat begin to wail outside. ‘Passionately, slavishly, the cat yowled and yowled, venting its shameless desolate sexual cry.’ This animal, expressing on Ana’s behalf an erotomania she refuses to acknowledge, has been incorporated – thoughtlessly – into an atmosphere created by individual human self-preoccupation. Significance, however, is a luxury animals cannot afford. Daylight reveals the sentries who have guarded the church at their breakfast. ‘They were sitting in the sun eating bread and sausage and flipping pebbles at a piece of dusty grey fur that lay in the road, stirring slightly every now and then as though a wind waggled it.’ Ana emerges from the building and walks towards her coach. Looking down at her feet, ‘she saw something lying – a dead cat, or almost dead, for its tongue was stretched out and draggled in the dust. She gathered up her skirts and stepped into the coach.’95 How many of the novel’s readers have spared another thought for this latest victim of humankind’s propensity for gratuitous slaughter? The protagonists most certainly do not. The animal corpse marks a narrative watershed: the point at which collective (or class) self-preoccupation supersedes individual as the primary motivating force. And yet it belongs to neither. If we attend to it, as Warner attended to the linnet Swift shut in the closet, as Rafaela Perez attends to the grey cat slinking through the grey dusk, we will have reached the outside of humankind’s self-preoccupation as a species. There, a different fatality obtains to that which will dispose of the novel’s human staffage, those other emanations of a parched eviscerate soil.

            In this article I have tried to illuminate, with help from the archive, the creative partnership in which Valentine Ackland and Sylvia Townsend Warner were equally involved during the 1930s. I would not myself describe theirs as a queer posthuman vanguardism. However, I do think that the role each adopted within that partnership was instrumental in permitting the exploration of a particular aspect of the breakdown of boundaries between the human and the non-human which has come to seem characteristic of the age we now live in. The attention they paid to the figures of cyborg and companion species is a reproof to the digital exceptionalism built into most accounts of the posthuman condition. To approach their writing in the 1930s from the angle created by that attention is to begin to see it, conversely, in a different light.

            Note on contributor

            David Trotter is Emeritus Professor of Literature at the University of Cambridge. He has written widely on aspects of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature in English, and on the history and theory of cinema and other media. His most recent publication is The Literature of Connection: Signal, Medium, Interface, 1850–1950 (Oxford University Press, 2020).

            Declaration and conflict of interests

            The author declares that there are no conflicts of interests with this work.



            Valentine Ackland and Sylvia Townsend Warner, ‘Note to the Reader’, in Valentine Ackland, Journey from Winter: Selected Poems, ed. Frances Bingham (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008), pp. 204–5 (p. 205).


            Wendy Mulford, This Narrow Place: Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland: Life, Letters and Politics, 1930–1951 (London: Pandora, 1988), pp. 70–103.


            Glyn Salton-Cox, Queer Communism and the Ministry of Love: Sexual Revolution in British Writing of the 1930s (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), p. 78.


            Rosi Braidotti, Posthuman Knowledge (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2019), p. 2.


            Human beings are, of course, animals. In this article I follow custom in using the term ‘animal’ to refer to species other than Homo sapiens.


            Donna Haraway, ‘The Cyborg Manifesto’, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Associations Books, 1991), pp. 149–81 (pp. 151–2).


            N. Katherine Hayles, ‘Unfinished Work: From Cyborg to Cognisphere’, Theory, Culture & Society, 23, nos. 7–8 (2006), pp. 159–66 (pp. 159–60).


            Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003).


            Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), p. 4.


            Cary Wolfe, Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), pp. 1–2.


            Wolfe, What Is Posthumanism? (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), p. xii.


            Hayles, ‘Unfinished Work’, pp. 160–1. Hayles has done much both to expound and to challenge the terms in which this reconfiguration was conceived: see, in particular, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp. 50–70.


            David Trotter, The Literature of Connection: Signal, Medium, Interface, 1850–1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).


            Robert Pepperell, The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness beyond the Brain (Bristol: Intellect, 2003), p. 177.


            I’ll Stand by You: Selected Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland, ed. Susanna Pinney (London: Pimlico, 1998), p. 40.


            Theodore J. Faithfull, Bisexuality: An Essay on Extraversion and Introversion (London: John Bale, Sons, & Daniellson, 1927). The only downside to Faithfull’s promotion of the idea of bisexuality, Ackland joked, was that it seemed to involve membership of the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry, a movement popular for a while during the 1920s as a less gung-ho version of the Boy Scouts, with mildly neo-pagan overtones (I’ll Stand by You, p. 40). The book’s Preface announces that sunlight, ‘both real and artificial, will be used to bathe our bodies’. It concludes with an invitation to readers to visualise ‘two boys in early adolescence, disporting themselves in gaily coloured Greek costumes in a setting of green grass, sunlight, and rose bushes. Or busy at artistic crafts or at cooking, washing, and ironing, domestic activities generally associated with a conception of women’ (pp. 11, 15).


            I’ll Stand by You, p. 41.


            Faithfull, Bisexuality, p. 95.


            I’ll Stand by You, pp. 41, 43.


            Faithfull, Bisexuality, p. 95.


            I’ll Stand by You, p. 163.


            Salton-Cox, Queer Communism, p. 94.


            I’ll Stand by You, p. 106.


            Ackland, ‘A Valentine for Sylvia 14.2.35’: Sylvia Townsend Warner Papers, Dorset County Museum, STW: H(R)/5/3.


            Warner, Letters, ed. William Maxwell (London: Chatto & Windus, 1982), p. 25.


            Salton-Cox, Queer Communism, pp. 94–5.


            Ackland, diary for 1935, STW: T(LL)/11.


            I’ll Stand by You, p. 11.


            Claire Harman, Sylvia Townsend Warner: A Biography (London: Chatto & Windus, 1989), pp. 119–20.


            I’ll Stand by You, p. 73.


            John Durham Peters, The Marvelous Clouds: Towards a Philosophy of Elemental Media (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), p. 16.


            Haraway, ‘Cyborg Manifesto’, p. 178.


            I’ll Stand by You, p. 131.


            Ackland, Journey from Winter, p. 88.


            I’ll Stand by You, p. 148.


            Warner, Diaries, ed. Claire Harman (London: Chatto & Windus, 1994), p. 91.


            N.N., ‘The Future of Air Travel’, Countryman, 9, no. 1 (October 1934), p. 23.


            ‘The Air Exercises’, Flight (22 July 1932), pp. 697–8.


            ‘Mr Baldwin on Aerial Warfare’, The Times (11 November 1932), p. 8.


            Brett Holman, The Next War in the Air: Britain’s Fear of the Bomber, 1908–1941 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), p. 3.


            Ackland, ‘Weymouth Manoeuvres, 1936’, in buff folder inscribed ‘1936–37’, STW: J(FR)/11.


            I’ll Stand by You, pp. 134–5.


            ‘The Air Exercises’, Flight (25 July 1935), pp. 97–8 (p. 98).


            James Gleick, The Information (London: Fourth Estate, 2011), pp. 187–8, 236–7.


            Friedrich Kittler, ‘Lightning and Series – Event and Thunder’, trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, Theory, Culture & Society, 23, nos. 7–8 (2006), pp. 63–74 (p. 69).


            Gillian Beer, ‘“Authentic Tidings of Invisible Things”: Vision and the Invisible in the Later Nineteenth Century’, in Vision in Context: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Sight, eds. Teresa Brennan and Martin Jay (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 84–98 (p. 88).


            Warner, Diaries, pp. 35–6.


            Gillian Beer, ‘Eddington and the Idiom of Modernism’, in Science, Reason, and Rhetoric, eds. Henry Krips, J.E. McGuire, and Trevor Melia (Pittsburgh: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), pp. 295–315 (p. 295).


            A.S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1929), p. 80.


            Warner, ‘Astro-Physics’, in Collected Poems, ed. Claire Harman (Manchester: Carcanet, 1982), pp. 71–2 (p. 71).


            Eddington, Nature of the Physical World, p. 94.


            Eddington, Stars and Atoms (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927), p. 15.


            Warner, Diaries, pp. 45, 47–8. See Matthew Stanley, ‘So Simple a Thing as a Star: The Eddington-Jeans Debate over Astrophysical Phenomenology’, British Journal of the History of Science, 40, no. 1 (2007), pp. 53–82.


            Sir James Jeans, The Universe Around Us, 4th edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1944), p. 32.


            Warner, Diaries, p. 45.


            Steven Connor, The Matter of Air: Science and the Art of the Ethereal (London: Reaktion Books, 2010), p. 195.


            Broadcasting Modernism, eds. Debra Rae Cohen, Michael Coyle, and Jane Lewty, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009).


            Warner, ‘Writers at Work’, in With the Hunted: Selected Writings, ed. Peter Tolhurst (Norwich: Black Dog Books, 2012), pp. 393–9 (p. 395).


            Ackland, ‘8th November, 1936’, in a booklet headed ‘Brought back from Spain for Sylvia 1936’, STW: H(R)/5/8.


            Ackland, ‘June 1937’, STW: J(FR)12 a–d.


            Warner, Diaries, p. 104.


            Steven D. Brown, Ava Kanyeredzi, Laura McGrath et al., ‘Affect Theory and the Concept of Atmosphere’, Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 20, no. 1 (2019), pp. 5–24 (pp. 8–9).


            Ackland, ‘Tinhead diary’, entry for 28 September 1932, STW: T(LL)/6.


            Warner, ‘The Salutation’, in The Salutation (London: Chatto & Windus, 1932), pp. 19–115 (p. 19).


            Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native, ed. Simon Gattrell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 55–6.


            Warner, ‘The Salutation’, p. 20.


            A list of poems to be included in the volume assigns it that date: STW: R(FR)/20/27.


            Ackland, ‘The eyes of body’, in Whether a Dove or Seagull (London: Chatto & Windus, 1934), p. 43.


            Alfred Price, Instruments of Darkness: The History of Electronic Warfare, 1939–1945 (Barnsley: Frontline Books, 2017), pp. 22–3.


            ‘New Wireless Beacon for Croydon’, Flight (27 November 1931), p. 1177; ‘Guidance of Aircraft’, The Times (17 January 1934), p. 17.


            ‘Radio “Roadway” for Fliers’, Daily Herald (3 July 1931), p. 2.


            Haraway, ‘Cyborg Manifesto’, p. 177.


            Price, Instruments of Darkness, pp. 43–4.


            Ackland, ‘Plane and Bugle-Call at Night’, STW: R(FR)/20/16. Warner, too, was fond of bats. On 13 December 1934, she sent Llewelyn Powys the latest number of The Countryman, for the photographs of birds and bats, ‘and the bat story’: Letters, p. 33.


            Donald Griffin, ‘Echolocation by Blind Men, Bats and Radar’, Science (29 December 1944), pp. 589–90.


            Ackland, ‘A Valentine 1948’, STW: H(R)/5/30.


            Mary Sanders Pollock, ‘Animal Companions in Sylvia Townsend Warner’s More-than-Marxist World’, Mosaic 48, no. 1 (2015), pp. 65–81.


            Review of E.S. Russell, The Behaviour of Animals: An Introduction to Its Study, Countryman, 9, no. 2 (1934), p. 465. ‘Delectable Mountains’ is on pp. 413–14.


            E.S. Russell, The Behaviour of Animals: An Introduction to Its Study (London: Edward Arnold, 1938), pp. 9, 5–6.


            Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2007); Frans de Waal, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Teach Us about Ourselves (London: Granta, 2019).


            Russell, Behaviour of Animals, p. 190.


            Jacob von Uexküll, A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans, trans. Joseph D. O’Neill (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), p. 42: first published in 1934 as Streifzüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und Menschen.


            Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal, trans. Kevin Attell (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004), p. 40.


            Warner, ‘The Best Bed’, in The Salutation, pp. 287–92 (p. 289).


            Warner, ‘The Drought Breaks’, in With the Hunted, pp. 153–7 (pp. 153, 155).


            Warner, ‘Soldiers, Weeding-Women and Linnets’, in With the Hunted, pp. 264–8 (pp. 265, 268).


            Warner, Letters, p. 30.


            Warner, ‘Introduction’, in The Cat’s Cradle-Book (New York: Viking Press, 1940), pp. 9–40 (pp. 16, 28).


            Martin Heidegger, The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude, trans. William McNeill and Nicholas Walker (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), p. 267.


            Paola Cavalieri, The Death of the Animal (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), p. 11.


            Warner, Letters, pp. 16, 21.


            Both are included in Warner, Selected Stories, eds. William Maxwell and Susan Pinney (London: Virago, 2002), pp. 140–67 and 237–45.


            Warner, Letters, p. 51.


            Maud Ellmann, ‘After the Death of Don Juan: Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Spanish Novel’, Journal of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society 2017:2, pp. 1–26 (p. 4).


            Warner, After the Death of Don Juan (London: Virago, 1989), pp. 81, 83, 88.


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            7. Beer Gillian. Eddington and the Idiom of Modernism. Science, Reason, and Rhetoric. Krips Henry, McGuire J.E, Melia Trevor. Pittsburgh: University of Pennsylvania Press. 1995. p. 295–315

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            47. Warner Sylvia Townsend. Selected Stories. Maxwell William, Pinney Susan. London: Virago. 2002

            48. Warner Sylvia Townsend. With the Hunted: Selected Writings. Tolhurst Peter. Norwich: Black Dog Books. 2012

            49. Warner Sylvia Townsend. Writers at Work. With the Hunted: Selected Writings. Tolhurst Peter. Norwich: Black Dog Books. 2012

            50. Wolfe Cary. Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2003

            51. Wolfe Cary. What Is Posthumanism? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2010

            Author and article information

            The Journal of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society
            UCL Press
            09 November 2020
            : 20
            : 1
            : 39-62
            [1] 1University of Cambridge, UK
            Author notes
            *Correspondence: wdt21@ 123456cam.ac.uk
            Copyright © 2020, David Trotter

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            Page count
            Pages: 25

            Literary studies,History
            guns,aeroplanes,the posthuman,collaboration,the 1930s,Sylvia Townsend Warner,Valentine Ackland


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