John Lehmann begins this issue by announcing that he’s dropping my favourite part of the magazine, The Living Moment. The reason for what he rightly calls this ‘freakish editorial decision’ is that the articles suitable for this section —commissioned reportage of changing post-war life — are getting scarce. However, despite this annoying beginning, I think … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 35: The sound of idols smashing
Well, I'm not sure what happened. Perhaps I was over-enthusiastic with the spring-cleaning? All the images attached to posts between February and July this year have disappeared, so please excuse the mess while I go and look for replacements.
This is a neat and lush little ghost story, barely long enough for a novella, printed in 1941 in an austere wartime edition. In 1945 the story was made into a film of the same name, starring James Mason, and Margaret Lockwood as an entirely new character. The story is the work of an established … Continue reading Osbert Sitwell, A Place of One’s Own
The only things I knew about Angelica Garnett before I read this autobiography were (1) that she was the daughter of Vanessa Bell and her lover Duncan Grant, and (2) that her eventual husband David Garnett had announced that he would marry Angelica on first meeting her, in her cradle. Deceived With Kindness suggests that … Continue reading Angelica Garnett, Deceived with Kindness. A Bloomsbury Childhood
I must be one of the last people among the middlebrow fanciers to have read Beverley Nichols. He is perfect bedtime reading: light, frivolous, witty, of an earlier period so there won't be anything nasty in the woodshed, and unexpectedly moving. I first noticed his existence in a delightfully poisonous parody in Leonard Russell's immortal … Continue reading The shrine of Beverley Nichols: should one worship?
We’re well past the Labour victory in the post-war general election now, heading towards a Conservative revival in 1951. Notable Conservative novelist Angela Thirkell wrote about this period of British history with loathing and resentment. John Lehmann writes about it in his Foreword to this issue in terms of a strong desire to earn a … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 34: Life in 1948
The Croquet Player (1936) by H G Wells is set in an alternative universe where croquet and archery have the same exalted sporting status as tennis. It's a novella of serious frivolity, and seems to be most highly regarded now for its apparent foreshadowing of the Second World War. Given its publication date, after six … Continue reading H G Wells does Lovecraft