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By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept


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About the Author

Elizabeth Smart was born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1913. She was educated at private schools in Canada and, for a year, at King’s College, University of London. Her landmark work, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept was published in 1945. After the war she supported herself and her family through journalism and advertising work. In 1963 she became literary and associate editor of Queen magazine but subsequently dropped out of the literary scene to live quietly in a remote part of Suffolk. She died in 1986.


‘Like Madame Bovary blasted by lightening … A masterpiece.’ Angela Carter ‘At some point every good reader comes across By Grand Central Station I sat Down and Wept. And he or she recognises an emotion essential and permanent to us.’ Michael Ondaatje ‘A revelation…This short, powerful work has a profound influence on me and was one of the factors that made me want to be a writer.’ Beryl Bainbridge ‘I doubt if there are more than half a dozen such masterpieces of poetic prose in the world.’ Brigid Brophy ‘Explores a passion between a man and two women, one of them his wife – a love despairing and triumphant upon which the reader may gaze, awed, appalled, or even, perhaps, envious.’ The Times ‘Few writers have ever captured the full honesty of what passion means as shockingly and as piercingly as Smart. Today, its force still strikes us hard in the face, a beautiful and bloody blow.’ Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday ‘Constructed as a single, sustained climax, it is like a cry of ecstasy which, without changing volume or pitch, becomes a cry of agony.’ Spectator ‘The emotion, the truth and abject affliction comes through…to move the reader, and even to awe him.’ London Review of Books

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