Of the three siblings, the eldest, Edith, achieved the most celebrity – in part owing to her dramatic appearance. She swathed her six foot frame in brocades, turbans and jewellery; one commentator described her as an “altar on the move”.
She was a favourite model of many artists and of the photographer Cecil Beaton. Her flat in Bayswater was a centre for the literati and she helped many young writers advance their careers.
Edith’s most famous works include Facades, rhythmic abstract poetry set to music by William Walton, and Still falls the Rain, a poem about the London Blitz that was set to music by Benjamin Britten.
She wrote popular prose works on Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and “English Eccentrics”. She is also credited with posthumously publishing the first poems by the World War I poet Wilfred Owen, in an anthology compiled with her brothers.
Edith had famous feuds with the literary critic FR Leavis – who accused the Sitwell siblings of being publicity seekers – and with Noel Coward, who wrote a sketch mocking them. A lifelong spinster, she spent her final years in Hampstead with a large contingent of cats. She continued her famous poetry recitals almost until her death, aged 77. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1954.
Weston Hall has photos and paintings of Edith, including by Percy Wyndham Lewis and the painter Pavel Tchelitchev, to whom she formed a passionate and unreciprocated attachment. It also has many of her clothes and a sofa given to her by Noel Coward as a peace offering.