Who is Silvia? What is she...
Who is Silvia? What is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admirèd be.
Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness.
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness,
And, being helped, inhabits there.
Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
To her let us garlands bring.
Extract from Shakespeare’s song in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 4.2. Shakespeare’s song is performed outside Silvia’s tower window by musicians who have been hired by one of her several ‘swains’.
Silvia was known variously as
Silvia Fausset Baker
Silvia Baker &
She was one of my Great Aunts but I knew very little about her and we hardly ever met. As well as having creative talents, she was clearly a character with wit and good looks, but her life was not easy. She was born Overseas and never really found a place to call home. Following the sudden death of her husband, she travelled around the world – on her own – in search of happiness…
The experience of so many women artists and explorers of the early 20thC has been hidden from view for too long. Thankfully, this has begun to change and it is now time to bring Silvia’s story to life. The intention to do so became more urgent having found reference to her name in a couple of published books. A biography was mooted but we have not yet been able to piece together all the material which she left behind.
In recent years, a sizeable correspondence has come to light. In large part this is thanks to the avid practice of writing letters in the first half of the 20thC – a practice now usurped by social media. The majority of letters held within the family, are those that Silvia received and thus only provide half a story. Many of the letters that she wrote herself, however, have found their way into American Libraries. The task of tracking them down has been made infinitely easier since the development of the internet. Such research, however, is still ongoing.
In the meantime, this website has been set up to ensure her story, as we understand it, reaches the general public. There is a skeleton TimeLine providing facts and figures, along with a series of pages which present a fuller picture of different aspects of her life.