Authors: Stella Gibbons

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English novelist, short-story writer, and poet

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Cold Comfort Farm, 1932

Bassett, 1934

Enbury Heath, 1935

Miss Linsey and Pa, 1936

Nightingale Wood, 1938

My American, 1939

The Rich House, 1941

Ticky, 1943

The Bachelor, 1944

Westwood: Or, The Gentle Powers, 1946

Conference at Cold Comfort Farm, 1949

The Matchmaker, 1949

The Swiss Summer, 1951

The Shadow of a Sorcerer, 1955

Here Be Dragons, 1956

White Sand and Grey Sand, 1958

A Pink Front Door, 1959

The Weather at Tregulla, 1962

The Wolves Were in the Sledge, 1964

The Charmers, 1965

Starlight, 1967

The Snow Woman, 1969

The Woods in Winter, 1970

Short Fiction:

Roaring Tower, 1937

Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm, 1940

Beside the Pearly Water, 1954


The Mountain Beast, and Other Poems, 1930

The Priestess, and Other Poems, 1934

The Lowland Venus, and Other Poems, 1938

Collected Poems, 1950

Children’s/Young Adult Literature:

The Untidy Gnome, 1935


Stella Dorothea Gibbons grew up in a poor district of London, where her father was a physician. She was the eldest of three children and her family life was so unhappy that she began telling stories to help herself and her two younger brothers escape the unpleasantness of their situation. Because of her father’s ideas about education, she was taught at home by governesses until she was thirteen; then she attended the North London Collegiate School for Girls. In 1921 she entered University College, London, where she spent two years studying journalism. During the decade 1923-1933, she worked in London as a practicing journalist for British United Press, the London Evening Standard, and The Lady. She also worked seriously on poetry and fiction. In 1933 she married the British actor and singer Allan Bourne Webb, with whom she had a daughter. During the 1930’s in particular, Gibbons’s poems were widely anthologized, and her work appeared in the 1930, 1931, 1933, and 1935 editions of Best Poems, as well as in The Mercury Book of Verse (1931), Younger Poets of Today (1932), and Neo-Georgian Poetry (1937).{$I[AN]9810000175}{$I[A]Gibbons, Stella}{$I[geo]WOMEN;Gibbons, Stella}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Gibbons, Stella}{$I[tim]1902;Gibbons, Stella}

Gibbons’s first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, remains her best-known work, both with critics and the reading public. It was awarded the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize in 1933, and became the basis of a 1996 film directed by John Schlesinger. The novel is a burlesque of novels about rural life, in which the novelist parodied the styles of such writers as D. H. Lawrence and T. F. Powys. Critics have noted that the writing in all of her work is workmanlike, but that the later fiction seems to be no more than merely entertaining. She was nevertheless elected a member of the Royal Society of Literature in 1950. Of herself, the author once declared that she took every opportunity to go to the places where ordinary people go, to gather material for her stories and novels.

BibliographyKunitz, Stanley J., and Howard Haycraft, eds. “Stella Gibbons.” In Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1942, 1973. Biographical information can be found here.Los Angeles Times. “Stella Gibbons: Author of Cold Comfort Farm.” December 21, 1989. An obituary that addresses her life and career.Oliver, Reggie. Out of the Woodshed: A Portrait of Stella Gibbons. London: Bloomsbury, 1998. The first full-length and in-depth study of Gibbons, written affectionately by her nephew. Includes both primary and secondary bibliography.Temple, Ruth Zabriskie, and Martin Tucker, eds. “Stella Gibbons.” In A Library of Literary Criticism: Modern British Literature. 3 vols. New York: F. Ungar, 1966. A solid overview is provided.
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