A Biography of Diana Poulton
by Thea Abbott
Diana Poulton is best known as one of the 20th centurys pioneers of early music. A student of Arnold Dolmetsch, for many years she was the only professional lute-player in England. Her research in the library of the British Museum and in private collections laid the foundations of much of what is most securely known today about the Golden Age of English lute music. The great passion of her life was John Dowland and though the beauty of his music captivated and entranced her, it was the man himself who came to dominate her imagination and dreams.
Few of those who recognise her name know that Diana could have taken a completely different path in life. She was one of the great beauties of the Slade, and began her studies there just after the end of the Great War in 1919.
Diana was the lady with the lute, making over 400 broadcasts for the BBC giving recitals all over the country, she regularly provided lute music for performances of Shakespeare's plays. Her biography of John Dowland and her edition of his music are still central to lute studies and lute playing.
Intensely private, Diana never discussed her personal life with her students or her friends. Discovering the real Diana has not been easy, but so great was her influence on a whole generation of lute-players and researchers that she deserves to be remembered and celebrated.
Diana Souhami, the judge in the highly competitive Biography & Memoir category felt Diana Poulton: The Lady with the Lute to be of an exceptionally high standard, and noted that Thea Abbott has rescued Poulton from oblivion and brought her vividly to life. Her research is detailed and wide-ranging and her authorial voice stylish and engaging.
A beautifully produced hardback book of 250 pages with plentiful illustrations.
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