Portrait of a Marriage

conjugal life a la Bloomsbury Nigel Nicolson is the son of writer Vita Sackville-West and diplomat-politician Harold Nicolson. When his parents died he found a locked leather Gladstone bag in his mother’s study, cut it open, and discovered a diary containing an autobiographical account of her affair with Violet Trefusis. Portrait of a Marriage is […]

Philip Larkin letters

witty, erudite, and scurrilous correspondence Philip Larkin was very much a glass half empty sort of person. Even when things were going reasonably well in his life, he would find a reason to look on the glum side. He satirically called himself ‘the Hermit of Hull’ and generally moaned about everything – the weather, his […]

Party in the Blitz

Canetti amidst English modernists during the war The first three volumes of Elias Canetti’s memoirs cover the period 1905 to 1937. The Tongue Set Free traces his precocious childhood in Bulgaria, Manchester, Vienna, and Zurich; The Torch in my Ear describes his years in Frankfurt, Vienna, and Berlin as he mixed with German modernists and […]

Nina Hamnett memoirs

the autobiography of ‘the Queen of Bohemia’ Nina Hamnett memoirs is the record of a an artist, a Bohemian, a fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group, and towards the end of her life a woman who was more-or-less professional alcoholic. This is her interim life story, written around two thirds the way through her career […]

Nina Berberova

Nina Berberova (1901-1993) was a prolific Russian writer who chronicled the lives of her fellow countrymen living in exile in Berlin, Paris, and New York. She was a contemporary of Vladimir Nabokov, who she greatly admired and who followed the same route of exile. Her memoir traverses three continents and three different cultures, and she […]

Nancy Cunard

socialite, rebel, poet, publisher, activist Nancy Cunard (1896-1965) was heiress to the Anglo-American Cunard shipping line. She was a glamorous and notorious figure in fashionable society of the 1920s and 1930s in both London and Paris. She flouted convention by taking multiple lovers, including in particular one black American jazz pianist. She also espoused left […]

Marcel Proust Illustrated Life

biographical notes, charming illustrations, and photos This short biographical study offers an introduction to Proust’s strange life, and his unrelenting devotion to creativity. It’s written by an expert, and presented in a very attractive manner with archive photographs on almost every page. Mary Ann Caws admits from the outset that with so many other excellent […]

Ludwig Wittgenstein

portrait of the tortured Anglo-Austrian ‘genius’ Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) was born into an aristocratic and fabulously wealthy family in Vienna at a time when it was the epicentre of the Hapsburg empire. The family was Jewish, but had largely converted to Christianity. It provided a very rich cultural and intellectual environment – Brahms, Mahler, Klimt […]

Leonard Woolf Autobiography – Vol II

politics, life, and literature 1911-1969 Leonard Woolf is probably best known as the husband of Virginia Woolf, but in fact he had a remarkable life and set of achievements quite apart from his wife. He was a political activist and one of the founders of the League of Nations (which became the United Nations); he […]

Leonard Woolf Autobiography – Vol I

politics, life, and literature – 1880 to 1969 Leonard Woolf is probably best known as the husband of Virginia Woolf, but in fact he had a remarkable life and set of achievements quite apart from his wife. He was a political activist and one of the founders of the League of Nations (which became the […]