The Sitwells (Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell), were three siblings who formed an identifiable literary and artistic clique around themselves in London in the period roughly 1916 to 1930. This was marked by some well-publicised events, notably Edith's Façade with music by William Walton, with its public debut in 1923. All three Sitwells wrote; for a while their circle was considered by some to rival Bloomsbury, though others dismissed them as attention-seekers rather than serious artists.
In 1917 Edith wrote to Siegfried Sassoon to tell him how much she and her brothers sympathised with his protest against the war. Sassoon first met Edith at Edward Marsh’s house in Gray’s Inn in October 1918. The friendship blossomed but Sassoon disliked their taste for modernism. For example, they liked T.S. Elliot and had a contempt for the Georgian Poets which left Sassoon feeling old-fashioned. The friendship continued however, with Edith often praising Sassoon’s poetry. Sassoon liked a lot of Edith’s work and she eventually fell in love with him, which amused Sassoon and he felt able to tease her.
In 1917 Osbert wrote to Sassoon, ‘Do, for god’s sake, take care of yourself, we cannot afford to lose a poet – and especially you’. Osbert visited Sassoon when he was in hospital at Lancaster Gate, London, in August 1918 recovering from wounds, and also later encouraged Sassoon to write his memoirs.
Things did not always go well, there was a big falling-out in November 1921 when Osbert mocked Graves, Turner and Blunden in the Sitwell’s poetry anthology ‘Wheels’ and Sassoon ended the friendship for some time which upset Edith especially.
On 22nd June, 1927, Sassoon attended the christening of Sacheverell’s son at Lambeth by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and this was where he first met Stephen Tennant. In July 1927 Sassoon drove across Europe and met Osbert and Sacheverell among others on the continent and with them went on to tour Dresden, Prague and Vienna.
Regarding their work, Sassoon thought Osbert and Sacheverell too frivolous, although he did have an affinity with their writing as their themes always seemed to revolve around Sassoon’s favourite subject, that of nostalgia.
In 1929, after Edith had criticised Sassoon for being mean with money, he offered to take over Osbert and Sacheverell’s overdrafts (£5,000), as ‘a sort of mortgage’. Osbert, who had become a baronet after the death of his father, repaid the loan in 1950.