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
Note for 20th-century linguistics historians: in his introduction to this issue of Penguin New Writing John Lehmann remarks on the number of neologisms that have occurred in the tiny lifetime of the magazine. ‘The last ten years have been an express formative period in the English language, new words, new expressions have become acclimatized in … Continue reading Penguin New Writing 36: into 1949
This is a very early E F Benson novel, published long before his Edwardian and post-First World War triumphs would appear, but it shows signs that the experienced Bensonite can recognise as an indication of future sublimity. It’s a Victorian novelette, that in any other hands would never have made it out of the cheap … Continue reading E F Benson, The Money Market
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
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?