I think I must have read this Angela Thirkell novel first when I was 13, stuck in bed with mumps, and very bored. It entranced me. The tiresome adult children converging on the beleaguered and saintly mother; the glow of perfection cast over the rightful landowning classes; the crashing irruption of the Adams family into … Continue reading Angela Thirkell’s The Headmistress
There is full-on puffery in John Lehmann's Foreword to Penguin New Writing in this 1949 issue. It's been only a few issues since he sent out a plea for someone to contribute something funny; he's lost all sense of proportion now. His Foreword begins with the question of how can we know 'if a man … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 38: John Lehmann loses his judgement
This is a memoir by the first female professor in the UK, Edith Morley, Professor of English Language at the University of Reading. It’s an essential read for anyone exploring the history of women’s higher education in Britain, and for those keen on reliving the struggles of women to make headway in a profession that … Continue reading Edith Morley’s Before and After. Reminiscences of a Working Life
Over on Vulpes Libris I reviewed the miscellany Don't Panic, I'm Islamic, which has the ridiculously long subtitle of Words and Pictures on How to Stop Worrying and Learn to love the Alien Next Door. I think that gives you everything you need to know. I enjoyed it!
A slightly unfortunate phrasing, that: as if she'd written a novel called Death, or Sudden Demise. It's a great novel, and I talk about it over on Vulpes Libris. Go see.
So many famous writers in this issue from 1949! Laurie Lee, Frank O’Connor, Anna Kavan, Patrick Leigh-Fermor and Jacquetta Hawkes! Had John Lehmann’s ship come in? Frank O’Connor’s ‘The Landlady’ is one of the most readable stories Lehmann published in Penguin New Writing, and it’s not gloomy, or cruel to women, or about tight-lipped privilege. … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 37: The embrace of the weird
This book has been looking at me for months, sitting on the shelf in an accusing position, in the stack received during and since Christmas and somehow not yet read, because I knew full well it would not be a nice read, not be comforting, not be bedtime reading, not be reading I could prop … Continue reading Ben Judah’s This is London