Lolly Willowes

Sylvia Townsend Warner

Laura “Lolly” Willowes is many things—spinster, caretaker, aunt to many. Liberated is not one of them. At the tender age of 40, she departs her brother and sister-in-law’s London home to make a life for herself in village of Great Mop (population: 227). Taking pleasure in simple acts of independence such as cooking her own meals, it isn’t long before Laura’s long-awaited solitude is intruded upon by well-meaning relatives—among them, a nephew who also intends on calling Great Mop home. But there is a major change afoot: Laura, thanks to the tutelage of her landlord, has become a witch.

Set in England just after World War I, Townsend Warner’s novel is a fantastical, first of its kind exploration of the “independent woman-as-witch” metaphor. In Lolly Willowes, tinctures and spells go hand-in hand with bodily autonomy and peace of mind.


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About the Author

Sylvia Townsend Warner


Sylvia Townsend Warner was born in England in 1893 and died in 1978. She was hailed as a “Bright Young Thing” by the London press in the 1920s but then a “neglected writer” by The Guardian in 2012.

“One doesn’t become a witch to run around being harmful, or to run around being helpful either, a district visitor on a broomstick. It’s to escape all that - to have a life of one’s own, not an existence doled out to by others.”

Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes