Schaffner, Perdita Macpherson

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Schaffner, Perdita Macpherson Gender: F
born on 31 March 1919 at 12:30 (= 12:30 PM )
Place London, England, 51n30, 0w10
Timezone GDT h1e (is daylight saving time)
Data source
Orig source not known
Rodden Rating C
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 09°42' s_mo.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 04°05 Asc.s_cancol.18.gif 26°40'


Anglo-American essayist and philanthropist, biological daughter of the Imagist poet Hilda Doolittle and adopted daughter of Doolittle's longtime female companion, Bryher.

Her father's identity was a mystery for many years. She was originally named Frances Perdita Aldington, since, at the time of her birth, her mother was married to Richard Aldington. But in 1983 she identified him as Cecil Gray, a Scottish music critic and minor composer, who had had a brief affair with H.D. toward the end of World War I.

Perdita's mother was good friends with Bryher and the three formed an extended family with Bryher's two husbands. Bryher and her second husband, Kenneth Macpherson, legally adopted Perdita in 1927.

Perdita was educated at home by Bryher and tutor and became fluent in French, German and Italian. As a young servicewoman at the outset of World War II, she became a translator, decoding Nazi messages, ultimately working for the Office of Strategic Services as a spy-catcher.

After the war, she moved to New York and worked as a secretary for John Valentine Schaffner, a literary agent. The two fell in love and married in 1950. The marriage produced four children, all of whom became writers: Valentine, Nicholas, Elizabeth Bryher and Timothy.

When her husband died in 1983, Perdita began publishing her own essays in literary magazines. With an interest in theater, she became an active supporter of theaters and the dramatic arts and artists. She traveled widely as well throughout Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean, and included Turkey and the Falkland Islands in her travels. She suffered a massive heart attack in 1996 and wasn't expected to live. Upon her return home, she gave up smoking and hard liquor. Her health declined however and she died on December 26, 2001 at her home in East Hampton, N.Y. She was 82.


  • adoptive parent relationship with Bryher (born 2 September 1894)
  • parent relationship with Doolittle, Hilda (born 10 September 1886). Notes: biological mother


  • Family : Adopted by Parent 1927 (by Bryher, a friend of her mother)
  • Relationship : Marriage 1950
  • Death of Mate 1983
  • Death, Cause unspecified 26 December 2001 (age 82 in New York)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Health : Medical diagnosis 1996 (massive heart attack)

Source Notes

Data from an astrological folder in the Hilda Doolittle papers held at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, as emailed from their Public

Service Dept to Sy Scholfield: "Perdita Schaffner was born in London on March 31, 1919 at 12:30 noon." The astrological folder contains charts cast by Sylvia Dobson, one of Hilda Doolittle's companions.


  • Vocation : Writers : Textbook/ Non-fiction (Essays)
  • Vocation : Writers : Translator (during World War II)
  • Family : Childhood : Adopted
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage - Compatible
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage more than 15 Yrs (33 years until her husband's death)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids more than 3 (Four)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids - Noted (All are writers)
  • Lifestyle : Home : Expatriate (moved to the US after WWII)
  • Personal : Death : Long life more than 80 yrs (82)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Animals, pets (Six cats)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Heart disease/attack