Something to Hide
The Life of Sheila Wingfield, Viscountess Powerscourt
By: Penny Perrick
Publication Date: February 2007
A fascinating portrait of a neglected poet and memoirist whose colourful and complicated life brought her into contact with some of the major literary figures of early twentieth-century Ireland. Sheila Wingfield (1906-1992), Anglo-Jewish heiress and ‘poetess wife’ of the last Powerscourt to live on that estate, did not fit easily into any of the worlds she inhabited. In conflict with her ancestry and her responsibilities as Viscountess Powerscourt, Sheila Wingfield struggled with the demons of alcohol, drugs, illness and conflicted relationships. Deeply private, she remained passionately committed to her writing – a committment that isolated her from those around her. A selection of her poetry features in an appendix.
Penny Perrick’s biography of Sheila Wingfield balances playful storytelling with serious analysis. Drawing on letters, memoirs, diaries and interviews, Something to Hide introduces a neglected poet whose life gives a new perspective to twentieth-century Ireland.
‘A riveting portrait of a gifted poet – a contentious woman and the gilded worlds she moved in, yet never belonged to.’ – Edna O’Brien
‘This is a deceptively intelligent book, never inaccessible, showing exceptional empathetic understanding… At the heart of it all, there’s Wingfield, who, above all else, lived and breathed poetry. The torture and strife it caused her, mentally and physically, is addictive reading for anyone who struggles with the fine balance of trying to make art and trying to live well.’ – The Irish Times
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PENNY PERRICK was a fashion editor for Vogue, a columnist on The Sun and The Times and a fiction editor for The Sunday Times. She is also a novelist and now lives in the west of Ireland.