MAGAZINE WINTER 2010 / ISSUE 10
The life and work of this most private of writers, by John Aplin
Writers who pick the wrong side Nigel Farndale on why we care what writers have to say about wars
Rosalind Cooper samples the Library’s wine book collection
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE / ISSUE 10
12 Nigel Farndale examines the effect on the literary reputation of Wodehouse, Pound, Céline, Hamsun and others who back the ‘wrong’ side in times of conflict
CONTENTS 5 EDITORIAL LETTER 6 CONTRIBUTORS 9 OVER MY SHOULDER
Ezra Pound, 1913. Photograph Alvin Langdon Coburn.
16 With the bicentenary of Thackeray’s birth in 2011, John Aplin examines the writer’s books in the context of his close and private family life
Why the London Library is everything a true library should be, and more, by John Simpson
10 READING LIST Michelle Lovric describes some of the array of Library material on the Victorian era she uncovered while researching her latest novel
12 WRITERS WHO PICK THE WRONG SIDE The hefty price that writers pay when they align themselves with the wrong, or at least the losing, side, by Nigel Farndale
Thackeray’s watercolour of Annie as ‘The Amanuensis’, c.1855. Courtesy of Catherine Wilson.
16 WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY
19 The Library’s wine book collection takes a characteristically quirky approach to the subject, with a wide range of titles that put this thrilling, sensuous drink into context, as Rosalind Cooper discovers Clos de Vougeot vineyards at Albert Bichot, Burgundy wine producers.
John Aplin on the importance to his work of the writer’s family life
19 HIDDEN CORNERS Rosalind Cooper samples the Library’s wine book collection
22 ‘LONELYHEART’ BOOKS IN SEARCH OF A READER Richard Heller on neglected titles awaiting discovery
24 EYES ON THE PRIZE
22 Richard Heller recently discovered that, in the 15 years since he presented his cricket novel to the Library, no one had borrowed it. This led him on a quest to find other ‘lonelyheart’ books on the shelves.
A.C. Grayling discusses the role of the book prize judge
26 CHRISTMAS SHOPPING GUIDE AND SPECIAL OFFERS TO MEMBERS 28 MEMBERS’ NEWS 31 RESTAURANT LISTINGS
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 3
FROM THE LIBRARIAN As 2010 comes to an end, we look forward to the bicentenary of the birth of William Makepeace Thackeray in July 2011. Thackeray was one of the Library’s founder members and, given that we have just launched a patron’s group with a membership category named in his honour (see page 28 for an update on the Founders’ Circle), it is apt that this issue includes some absorbing insights into his family life from John Aplin. Thackeray’s closeness to his devoted daughters, and their determination to protect his legacy, makes touching reading.
Cover Image Who’d think the moon was 236,847 miles off? by Donald Urquhart, 2009. © Donald Urquhart, courtesy Maureen Paley and Herald Street galleries.
The cover of this issue is one of the illustrations in a new edition of Vanity Fair, from the Four Corners Familiars series (fourcornersbooks.co.uk), for which contemporary artists are invited to produce a new edition of a classic novel or short story. The images for Vanity Fair are created by British artist Donald Urquhart, and inspired by 1930s Hollywood.
Published on behalf of The London Library by Royal Academy Enterprises Ltd. Colour reproduction by adtec. Printed by Tradewinds London. Published 3 December 2010 © 2010 The London Library. The opinions in this particular publication do not necessarily reflect the views of The London Library. All reasonable attempts have been made to clear copyright before publication.
While Thackeray’s works are still widely read and much-loved - this issue’s cover bears an illustration from a new edition of Vanity Fair – Richard Heller tracks down some of the many fine volumes still waiting for readers to discover them on the Library’s shelves. His poignant look at these ‘lonelyheart’ novels should make us all go searching for as yet unborrowed treasures. Elsewhere in the Magazine, Nigel Farndale examines the perils of writers becoming political commentators, and recounts some notable examples of writers picking ‘the wrong side’; Rosalind Cooper greets the festive season with a stroll through the Library’s collection of books on wine; and A.C. Grayling describes the daunting task of judging a literary prize. This issue also sees the start of a new feature: information about additional benefits and discounts we have secured for London Library members. Now that Gift Aid relief is no longer applied to our membership subscriptions, we are able to pass on special offers of this kind to our supporters and the first instalment is listed on pages 26–7. We will continue to update and add to these regularly in the Magazine and on our website. Not surprisingly, most of these first offers come from our near neighbours and have a Christmas shopping theme, but perhaps the most substantial membership extra we have secured is daytime access to Blacks, a private members’ club in a listed townhouse in Dean Street, just a short walk from the Library. Throughout 2011, your London Library card will give you access to Blacks between the hours of 11am and 6pm. We hope members will enjoy having this more luxurious alternative to our modest members’ room during the coming year. Perhaps it might even inspire some to consider giving gift membership to a book lover who would not only love the Library but also relish the opportunity to enjoy access to another prestigious address?
Inez T.P.A. Lynn Librarian
Editorial Publishers Jane Grylls and Kim Jenner Editor Mary Scott Design and Production Catherine Cartwright Research Daisy Jellicoe
Editorial Committee David Breuer Harry Mount Peter Parker Erica Wagner
Advertising Jane Grylls 020 7300 5661 Kim Jenner 020 7300 5658 Emily Pierce 020 7300 5675 Development Office, The London Library Lottie Cole 020 7766 4716 Aimée Heuzenroeder 020 7766 4734
Magazine feedback and editorial enquiries should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 5
joined the library in 2003
John Aplin’s 2-volume biography of the Thackeray family, The Inheritance of Genius and Memory and Legacy (2010, 2011), is published by Lutterworth Press, and in January 2011 Pickering & Chatto bring out his edited 5-volume collection, The Correspondence and Journals of the Thackeray Family. Having followed an academic career in historical musicology, he is now an independent writer and researcher.
© Mykel Nicolaou/Rex Features
joined the library in 2009
joined the library in 1996
Michelle Lovric is a novelist, journalist and anthologist. Her novels for adults include The Remedy, a literary murder-mystery that was longlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction, and The Book of Human Skin (2010). Her first novel for young adult readers was The Undrowned Child (2009), and its sequel is The Mourning Emporium (2010).
joined the library in 1999
Nigel Farndale’s most recent work is The Blasphemer (2010), which The Times called ‘a fine novel; strange and unforgettable’. His previous work includes Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and Flirtation, 3522 BBR LL Ad:BBR 25/10/2010 18:23 Page 1Seduction, Betrayal, a collection of his award-winning Sunday Telegraph interviews.
joined the library in 1984
Richard Heller is an author and journalist. He was a columnist on the Mail On Sunday and later on The Times. In both 1996 and 2008 he was a finalist on Mastermind. He has given the Library a copy of The Network, the sequel to his lonely cricket novel, A Tale Of Ten Wickets. It is so far unborrowed.
Rosalind began her career in California, leading wine tours and tasting wines for a wine warehouse near San Francisco. She became deputy editor of Decanter magazine and later editor of Wine Times. In recent years, Rosalind has written wine columns for many publications and online; she has also edited books and magazines, including French Magazine and the Italian Magazine. Her latest book is The Wine Year (2010).
joined the library in 1991
Anthony Grayling has written and edited more than 20 books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are Ideas That Matter and To Set Prometheus Free. He is a contributor to the Literary Review, the Observer and the Times Literary Supplement.
© Marianne Taylor
John Simpson joined the library in 1966
John Simpson was appointed CBE in the Gulf War Honours, and his BBC reporting has won him three BAFTAs and an International Emmy; he has also twice been the Royal Television Society’s Journalist of the Year. His most recent book is Unreliable Sources: How the Twentieth Century Was Reported (2010).
22 JANUARY - 7 APRIL 2011
wine gifts Berry Bros. & Rudd, located in the heart of St James’s, has a superb selection of gifts this Christmas, from classic Champagne gift sets and hampers to a tempting range of wines for entertaining. This year we are also delighted to offer the unique Burgundian Insights gift pack, containing a signed copy of Inside Burgundy, the eagerly awaited book by Jasper Morris MW, as well as Jasper’s selection of two exquisite Pinot Noirs from this magnificent region. Berry Bros. & Rudd 3 St James's Street 0800 280 2440 www.bbr.com/london
EXHIBITION PRESERVATION PARTNER
Tickets 0844 209 0051 www.royalacademy.org.uk Boyle Family, ‘Olaf Street Study’, 1966. Brick, mixed media, resin and board 213.4 x 218.4 cm. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Boyle Family/DACS 2010
6 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE London Library RA Sculpure Ad.indd 1
SHOULDER The BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson, whose book Unreliable Sources was published this year, considers visiting the Library to be one of life’s pleasures How frequently do you use the Library? In intensive spurts, whenever I’ve got a book to write. While I was labouring away at my last one, a history of twentiethcentury British reporting, I was in the Library five days a week. Except, that is, when I was travelling; for some malign reason the BBC kept me busier than usual during the year I was writing Unreliable Sources: How the Twentieth Century was Reported (2010), so a lot of it was written in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. What distracts you from your work? Just about everything. But working at the Library is better than trying to work at home, when every slight check to the writing process means I go and make a cup of tea. How do you use the Library? Do you study books there or take them home? I take out plenty of books, mostly elderly fiction, and store them up until I’m ready to read them. Sometimes I take them abroad with me, though I think it’s against the rules. Everywhere I travel I take one of those tough, black canvas London Library bags with me, flying the flag. Do you have any favourite parts of the Library that you tend to go to? When I’m writing I head for some quiet part of the Library – I’m writing this in L. Greek and Latin Texts – where I can yawn, check my emails, grunt and groan,
and of course fall heavily asleep, without being complained about. Do you borrow books for pleasure as well as research? It’s one of life’s pleasures to wander through some section of the Library that deals with subjects you know nothing about, and stop there to browse. For me, the London Library is precisely what a true library should be: a place where you can roam at leisure, and read whatever you want. I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
Do you think there is a typical London Library person? Are you that person? I became a member in 1966, a month or so after I’d joined the BBC. I was supposed to be writing a Ph.D. on nineteenthcentury English social novels – very, very boring – and one of my new colleagues put me up for membership. He said, ‘I love it there. Everyone looks like the child of elderly parents. ’ That isn’t so true now. But there is a definite quota of people who mutter to themselves and chuckle and rub their hands together, and I suspect I’m becoming one of them. And there’s something about the way almost all of the members dress, so you can usually spot them in the nearby streets. I often bring my four-year-old son Rafe here; he actually is the child of elderly parents – or at least of an elderly
John Simpson and his son Rafe, 2010.
Once Rafe left a toy camera among the shelves, and someone posted it to our home with a note that read, “A man needs his camera”
father. He adores it. The crustier members sometimes look at him nervously, but there seems to be no rule against bringing children into the Library as long as they’re quiet and well behaved, which thank God he mostly is. The staff treat Rafe superbly. Once he left a toy camera among the shelves, and someone posted it to our home with a note that read, ‘A man needs his camera’ . What a place, to have people like that working for it! I’ll put him up for membership at the earliest possible moment, and hope he’ll still be coming here when he’s 100. Who knows what books and libraries will be like in the twenty-second century? But I’m certain the London Library will still maintain its civilising mission, no matter how society and technology change. To read, after all, is to understand. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 9
The London Library
Novelist Michelle Lovric , whose books include The Book of Human Skin, chooses some of the titles she found invaluable while researching The Mourning Emporium, a story for young adults. Michelle Lovric’s The Mourning Emporium (2010).
The Mourning Emporium, the sequel to The Undrowned Child (2009), is set in Venice, London and on a long sea journey between the two cities at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. For the nautical and English elements of the book, I needed the London Library. Queer Things about London by Charles G. Harper (London 1923). A hands-and-knees crawl round the London Library shelves turned up Queer Things. It’s not so much the content of Harper’s book as its tone that had me experiencing historical London through the hairs on the back of my neck as well as the five conventional senses. I loved his description of walking past Burgess’s, No. 107 Strand: ‘a compound of everything aromatic in the way of pickles, anchovies, truffles, sauces of all kinds, and curry … issued from that little shop and smote you, not unkindly, as you went between Savoy Street and The Adelphi.’ He explores the history of lost London businesses, their customs and quaint signboards. He visits strange museums and examines the pedigrees of London ghosts. Last Days of Mast and Sail by Alan Moore (Oxford 1925). This ‘Essay in Nautical Comparative Anatomy’ includes fine diagrams and glossaries. To Last Days , I am indebted for ‘lower futtocks’, ‘Counter-timber knee’ and ‘Spanker vangs’. The book was particularly useful because of its stated aim to explain everything, by way of naval craft, that a man might see on a voyage from the Thames to the Mediterranean, exactly the journey I was tracing. But I will admit that the reason I borrowed it originally was because of some intriguing wording on the title page: ‘Illustrated by R. Morton Nance, with two
drawings by an Arab. ’ Italian Immigrants in Nineteenth Century Britain: Realities and Images by Lucio Sponza (Leicester 1988). Sponza’s statistical and analytical approach yields fascinating facts for a novelist. I required a tribe of Venetian hot-spicedpumpkin sellers to appear in London in 1901. One of Sponza’s charts backed me up beautifully. He explains the successive waves of Italian emigration to London, the areas colonised – chiefly Soho and Holborn – and the trades they pursued. In the early days, the Italians were principally itinerant street musicians, whose hand-organs were far from popular with many Londoners. Latterly, each Italian region exported its own specialities, be it figurine-making, glass and picture-frame production or the making and selling of ice cream, often known as ‘hokey-pokey’. Death, Heaven and the Victorians by John Morley (London 1971). This examines the elaborate trappings of bereavement and the iconography of faith in the nineteenth century. Morley quotes extensively and usefully from contemporary writers and social historians like Henry Mayhew. He also includes itemised costs of actual Victorian funerals, the paraphernalia of which did not come cheap. A £53 send-off, for example, included 23 ostrich feather plumes, a coffin with a tufted mattress and 2 mutes with
gowns, silk hat-bands and gloves, as well as 14 footmen and pages, to follow the hearse. Victorian London by Priscilla Metcalf (London 1972). Above all, this gives a sense of the throbbing busy-ness of London in late Victorian times. The flourishing art of photography, the author explains, allows us to see more of the 1890s than any previous period in history. She includes shots of traffic jams and Tower Bridge opening to allow the passage of tall-masted ships. Things that one might think have been in London for ever turn out to be just a hundred years old. Metcalf records the controversy over Alfred Gilbert’s new fountain and statue erected in Piccadilly in 1893: Punch’s cartoon showed Eros’s missing arrow embedded in the back of a passing cab driver. She also points out, interestingly, that the overlay of fog rendered Victorian London sublime to poets and painters. The 1956 Clean Air Act has stripped London of a great deal of her romance. Victorian Shopping: Harrod’s Catalogue 1895 (Newton Abbot 1972). As a historical novelist, you always need to feed, clean and purge your characters on a regular basis. This facsimile, an encyclopaedia of Victorian excess, provided me with Halford’s mutton jelly, a tin of boned larks, stuffed and truffled, and Spratt’s Dog Purging Pills.
Writers who PICK THE
wrong side Why do we care what writers have to say about wars? And what happens to their literary reputation if they associate themselves with the wrong, or at least the losing, side? Nigel Farndale examines the fierce contemporary attacks on P.G. Wodehouse, Ezra Pound, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and others, and assesses how fully their literary status can be rehabilitated for subsequent generations
henever a controversial issue is in the air, be it genetic engineering, immigration control or paedophilia in the priesthood, broadsheet editors invariably pick up the phone to a Lisa Jardine, a Ben Elton or a P.D. James and ask for a thousand words on the subject by five o’clock. Yet why should we care what such writers think? Even stranger is the assumption that writers must somehow have a unique moral perspective on the nature of war, conflict and terrorism. Who was asked to write the big think piece on 9/11 for the Guardian, the day after the Twin Towers collapsed? Ian McEwan, of course. Did he have any experience of war? No. Had he even been on a protest march against one, or been arrested for his beliefs, as John Osborne was after taking part in a CND demonstration in the 1960s? Almost certainly not. He just had a way with words. This wasn’t always the case. Previous generations of poets, playwrights and novelists were prepared to suffer for their opinions. They rolled up their sleeves and joined in the fight, even if it was sometimes for the wrong side, 12 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Ernest Hemingway later claimed that he had liberated the Ritz, more or less single-handedly
or at least the losing side. For history may be written by the victors, but the same is not necessarily true of literature. When George Orwell, Arthur Koestler and W.H. Auden swapped their pens for rifles and aimed them at Franco’s army in the Spanish Civil War, they backed the loser, yet theirs is the literature forever associated with that most romantic of lost causes. Auden, for one, knew his role would be largely symbolic. ‘I shall probably be a bloody bad soldier, ’ he wrote to a friend. ‘But how can I speak to/ for them without becoming one?’ Jean-Paul Sartre cut a more morally ambiguous figure. During l’Épuration,
he became a haughty inquisitor, calling for punishment to be vented on those among his fellow literati who had collaborated. Yet his opposition to the Vichy government was more in spirit than deed. He tended to talk up his time with the Resistance, when in fact he never took part in any action (unlike, say, Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett). And later,
when he became an apologist for Stalin – dismissing the gulags as a minor blemish – he undermined any moral authority he might have earned as an enemy of Hitler. To be fair, though, he was there for the liberation of Paris in 1944, and he did come under fire while watching the victory parade from a hotel balcony. At the same time, Jean Cocteau, also watching from a balcony, claimed (unconvincingly) that he had a cigarette shot from his mouth. Below them, Ernest Hemingway, a war correspondent who (illegally) carried a heavy automatic pistol, was going around punching people, as was his wont. He later claimed he had liberated the Ritz, more or less single-handedly. Though he favoured the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, and was regarded as having taken the wrong side in both Abyssinia (his memoir Waugh in Abyssinia, 1936, was based on his job covering the Italian invasion for the Daily Mail) and Mexico (the subject of Robbery under Law, 1939), the right-leaning Evelyn Waugh had a good war, too. He showed conspicuous gallantry during the campaign in Crete, and his Sword of Honour trilogy (1952–61) set during the Second World War is perhaps the greatest work of literature to emerge from that period, along with Sartre’s Roads to Freedom trilogy (1945–9). Only Norman Mailer, another soldier-writer, came close
Opposite George Orwell’s press card photograph, 1933. Photograph courtesy the Branch of the National Union of Journalists. Right Jean-Paul Sartre, 1950. Below, left Ernest Hemingway in Milan, 1918. Courtesy Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Below, right Evelyn Waugh, 1940. Photograph Carl Van Vechten. Courtesy Carl Van Vechten Photograph Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
to them with The Naked and the Dead (1948), a fictional account of his time fighting the Japanese in the Philippines. All these literary reputations, in other words, blossomed thanks to the war. P.G. Wodehouse wasn’t quite so fortunate. He found himself accused of treason after he agreed to make a few innocuous broadcasts for the Nazis (who had interned him in 1940). Not only did he arouse the fury of A.A. Milne but also Duff Cooper, Churchill’s Minister of Information. But Compton Mackenzie was more sympathetic. And George Orwell argued that the Wodehouse mental
clock had stopped in the Edwardian era, so it was pointless blaming him for the German gaffe. The consensus these days is that his motives were entirely innocent – he wanted to let his American fans know he was safe. While his literary reputation was never in question – Evelyn Waugh declared him a genius – it took a long time for the Establishment to draw a line under the Nazi episode. Indeed, Wodehouse was in his nineties before he was finally awarded the knighthood he so richly deserved. Wodehouse was never a Nazi sympathiser, so he cannot be said to have picked the wrong side. But what of those literary giants who did? How did their reputations fare? The treatment they received was often ugly and vindictive. Perhaps the greatest fall from literary grace was that of Ezra Pound, the American poet who had moved to Italy in the 1920s. After hearing Lord HawHaw’s ‘Germany Calling’ broadcasts on Nazi German radio to audiences in Britain during the Phoney War, Pound lobbied Italian radio officials to let him do similar broadcasts to the American people from Rome. Beginning in 1941, he was given a ten-minute slot every three days on the ‘American Hour’ . In these broadcasts he railed against the ‘money hungry Americans’ for sending aid to Britain, and he warned against the cost of intervention: ‘For God’s sake, don’t send THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 13
WRITERS WHO PICK THE WRONG SIDE
Above, from top Ezra Pound, prison photograph taken by U.s. armed forces in Italy, 1945; Pound’s The Pisan Cantos (1948), 2003 edition; Hugh Kenner’s The Pound Era (1972), 1973 edition. 14 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
your boys over here to die for the Shell oil company and the Jewish war profiteers. ’ At the end of the war, having been indicted on charges of treason, the poet was arrested in Italy and handed over to US Counter-Intelligence. He was taken to a high-security camp for defectors in Pisa, where he was detained in a specially constructed cage in the open – plus ça change. Not only did he have searchlights trained on him at night to keep him awake, but also his belt and braces were confiscated and no one was allowed to speak to him. After three weeks of this, he began suffering hallucinations and was transferred to the sick bay where he began work on The Pisan Cantos. Later that year he was flown to Washington, D.C., but was deemed ‘insane and mentally unfit for trial’ . In his fragile condition he admitted he was wrong – not only wrong but ashamed and dismayed about the Nazi treatment of the Jews. He nevertheless had to spend the next twelve years in an American mental institution, a fittingly symbolic incarceration, for a poet. It would have been convenient for the authorities if, at this stage, Pound had been forgotten, but his literary reputation began to grow. The re-assessment of his work had started in 1948 when he had been awarded, amid much controversy, the first Bollingen Prize in Poetry – by the Library of Congress, no less – for The Pisan Cantos. The public was said to be ‘outraged’ that a convicted fascist and anti-Semite should be honoured in this way. Arthur Miller led the attack, saying that he considered Pound worse than Hitler: ‘In his wildest moments of human vilification, Hitler never approached our Ezra – he knew all America’s weaknesses and he played them as expertly as Goebbels ever did. ’ Even so, by 1954, Pound was being considered for a Nobel Prize in Literature. That was the year Hemingway won and, when accepting the prize, the novelist remarked: ‘This would be a good year to release poets. ’
“In his wildest moments of human vilification,
Hitler never approached our Ezra – he knew all
America’s weaknesses and
he played them as expertly as Goebbels ever did”
When Pound was eventually released four years later, he returned to Italy where, predictably enough, he was photographed giving a fascist salute by the waiting press. Nevertheless, Allen Ginsberg (who, it is relevant to note, was Jewish) came to visit him in Rapallo and reported that Pound expressed remorse for his views. In 1972, at the age of 87, he died at his home in Venice. Soon afterwards, the distinguished literary critic Hugh Kenner published a book titled The Pound Era (1972), ranking Pound as the most influential poet of the early twentieth century. Other critics joined in the belated praise but it wasn’t until the 1980s that most were prepared to forgive and forget. Another writer who picked the wrong side and, for his sins, had his sanity questioned was the Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun. Unlike Pound, Hamsun – once praised by King Haakon VII of Norway as ‘Norway’s soul’ – was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, but that was back in the 1920s, long before his cheerleading for Hitler and Norway’s Minister President Vidkun Quisling tarnished his reputation. Even though his vocal support for the puppet government in Norway meant his international popularity – and book sales – plummeted, he was unrepentant about it to the end. Indeed, in 1943 he posted his Nobel medal to Goebbels in a bizarre gesture
of solidarity. Later, he visited Hitler and, in a eulogy for the German leader published on 7 May 1945 – one day before the surrender of the German occupation forces in Norway – he proclaimed: ‘He was a warrior, a warrior for mankind, and a prophet of the gospel of justice for all nations. ’ Not exactly a public retraction, then. In Norway, angry crowds burned his books in public squares. There were calls for his arrest for treason and, as with Pound, he found himself a guest in a psychiatric hospital. When a psychiatrist concluded that he had ‘permanently impaired mental faculties’ , the charges of treason against him were dropped. Instead, a civil liability case was raised and, in 1948, he was fined 325,000 kroner, a considerable amount of money at the time. Hamsun has been somewhat redeemed since. Almost 60 years after his death, a Norwegian biographer noted that: ‘We can’t help loving him, though we have hated him all these years. That’s our Hamsun trauma. He’s a ghost that won’t stay in the grave. ’ In 2009, his rehabilitation was complete when the Queen of Norway presided over a gala launching a year-long programme of commemorations for the 150th anniversary of his birth. The reputation of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, the French writer and doctor, was repaired more quickly after his disgrace, at least in literary circles. Nowadays, thanks to his best-known work Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932), he is considered one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, a novelist who developed an innovative style of storytelling that modernised not only French, but also British and American, literature. But back in the late 1930s, when he published a series of satirical antiSemitic tracts, he became something of a pariah in the literary world. This was not helped by his public
support for the Vichy government. Sartre, who had been a champion of his before the war, became one of his fiercest critics and, after the liberation of Paris, led the campaign to have him tried for treason. Céline fled the country and joined the last remnants of the Vichy government in Sigmaringen, Germany, and, after the war, he moved to Denmark where he lived in exile for five years. In 1950 he was convicted in absentia for the crime of collaboration and sentenced to one year of imprisonment. Curiously, as with Pound and Hamsun, there were questions about his sanity and rumours that he had undergone trepanation at the hands of army surgeons in 1915, and this was considered excuse enough for him to be granted amnesty. It seems that, if your literary star is bright enough, all will be forgiven in the end. Céline returned to France in 1951 and regained fame with a trilogy based on his exile: D’un château l’autre (1957), Nord (1960) and Rigodon (1961). He settled in the Meudon area of Paris where a number of Beat generation writers, including William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg (again), came to pay homage. His last novel was finished the day before he died of a ruptured aneurysm in 1961. By then his rehabilitation was complete. Among the writers who lined up to acknowledge his influence on them were Jean Genet, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Günter Grass, Joseph Heller and Samuel Beckett. Charles Bukowski went furthest when he wrote: ‘First of all read Céline. The greatest writer of 2,000 years.’ To this day, literary novelists are doffing their caps, with a younger generation including Irvine Welsh and Will Self naming him as ‘the daddy’. So why do we care what writers have to say about wars? Are they less vain than the rest of us? Less prone to sign up to fashionable opinions? Are they better informed? More impartial? A.S. Byatt, for one, thinks not. ‘On the whole, ’ she has said, ‘I do not believe writers of fiction
Knut Hamsun, 1939. Photograph Anders Beer Wilse.
have any more privileged insight into international affairs than other members of the public’ . Perhaps our interest in their opinions today then is more to do with a ghost memory of the days when authors did stand up and fight for what they believed in, and sometimes paid a hefty price for it. And perhaps the myth that writers are licensed speakers of truth to power was perpetuated by the writers themselves (notably in Authors Take Sides on the Spanish War, published in the Left Review in 1937), and its American equivalent, Writers Take Sides, also in 1937). As for the War on Terror, some contemporary writers have already shown their hands. Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie – old friends and armchair generals to a man – have all made some pretty uncompromising, some might say Neo-con, attacks on ‘Islamofascism’ . Will their literary reputations suffer? Like the outcome of the French Revolution, it is perhaps too early to say. But one thing is sure: none of them knows how to shoulder a rifle. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 15
W ILLIAM M A K E PE A C E
THACKERAY Next year marks the bicentenary of the birth of the Victorian novelist, who was also a founding London Library member. John Aplin looks behind the public persona at his private, family life, which did so much to shape him as a writer
rospective Thackeray biographers have to come to terms with the knowledge that their subject would have done all that he could to thwart their intentions. Just as Alfred Tennyson anticipated that ‘the ghouls’ would be pacing near the deathbed, Thackeray resented the picking over of bones that followed the deaths of famous men, whose biographies he tended to dislike. He doubtless feared the likely intrusions into parts of his personal life that he had no wish to offer up to the public gaze. To his elder daughter, Annie, who would herself become a successful author, he was unambiguously proscriptive. ‘When I drop, there is no life to be written of me; mind this and consider it as my last testament and desire. ’ It was a command that haunted her, and as the years passed and the requests from prospective biographers came in Annie did her best to deflect them. Worst of all was when friends who had known her father decided that they wanted to publish letters that they had carefully preserved and now hoped to share with his admirers. Asked for her approval, she would repeat his injunction to her, trusting to their goodwill, and for the most part they held back. Of course, this tends to suggest that there must have been something worth writing about, rather than that he was simply unusually reticent. But Thackeray 16 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
Thackeray’s carte de visite, endorsed by his daughter Annie: ’This is the photograph which seems to me most like my Father’s habitual expression.’ MS Eng 951. Courtesy of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.
was in large measure motivated by a laudable wish to keep private the details of the fragile mental health of his wife, who lived apart from him for most of their married life. Isabella Thackeray had collapsed with a form of severe post-natal depression following the birth in 1840 of Harriet (always known as Minny), her third and last child (a middle daughter, Jane, died aged eight months). After several attempts to seek appropriate alternative therapies for a condition not understood then, Thackeray eventually accepted that she could not continue within the family home. Isabella would live in private houses with carers for the rest of her life, outliving her husband by 50 years. He was probably right to fear the harshness by which her condition might be judged, and even now Isabella Thackeray is sometimes sidelined as the author’s mad wife, where a more nuanced interpretation is deserved. What makes Thackeray interesting to us now is not so much the better-known public persona of an eminently clubbable man so much as this more private, family context that helped shape him as a writer and extended well beyond his own death. His two surviving daughters, but particularly Annie, were charged with limiting what the world should be allowed to learn about him. They had lived with their father until his death in 1863. He had not exactly encouraged them to
seek suitors, but he was at least able to recognise that this selfishness arose from a fear of losing them as his companions. When he died, Annie was aged 26 and her sister, Minny, was 23. Their devastation took each of them close to a complete breakdown, but eventually they found a way forward and formed new lives for themselves. William Makepeace Thackeray had been born in Calcutta in July 1811, the only child of a successful East India Company employee. He was aged five when he was dispatched to England to be schooled, as was typical of the children of the Anglo-Indian community. By the time he left India, his father was already dead, and his mother in mourning but already promised to the first love of her life who had rediscovered her by chance in Calcutta, a story that reads like a piece of fiction. Thackeray’s family had long associations with India, the grandfather after whom he was named being just the first in a line of men who made good civilian and military careers there. But the writer would never go back, although his fiction abounds in allusions to British India, and the comic figure of Joseph Sedley in Vanity Fair (1847–8), the
Collector of Boggley Wallah, is just one of a type who make their careers there and people his pages. The early separation from his mother, whom he would not see again for some years, left Thackeray with a permanent anxiety about departures. He would go to considerable lengths to avoid farewells, preferring to slip away unnoticed, and the familiar association of the idea of death with setting out on a one-way journey returns frequently in his letters as well as his fiction, carrying a particular poignancy for him. If as a child he may have feared rejection by his mother, during his adult years there was no more important woman in his life. Thackeray seems to have told her everything, including things that she might well have preferred not to know about. His temptations (the card table was a particular problem during his student days at Trinity College, Cambridge); his belief in the example of a historical Jesus that challenged her strict orthodoxy; his sexual frustration at living a bachelor life with a wife in care; his fondness for good society and his susceptibility to its flatteries – all this he shared with her, and she in turn worried about his health whilst keeping
Watercolour of a comic scene by Thackeray, undated. Courtesy of Juliet Murray.
Shall I betray you? Illustration by Donald Urquhart for the 2010 edition of Vanity Fair (1847–8), published by Four Corners Books. © Donald Urquhart, courtesy Maureen Paley and Herald St galleries.
a watchful eye over the development of his daughters. By the mid-1840s she was living in Paris with her second husband, Henry Carmichael-Smyth, the romantic first love, and after the onset of Isabella Thackeray’s illness Annie and Minny lived with them there during their early years, whilst Thackeray based himself in London and tried to make enough money through his writing and drawing to meet the costs of his separated family. When they were old enough, the girls joined him in Kensington, and witnessed the writing of his most famous novels, even serving occasionally as models for his drawings for Punch and Vanity Fair. His fierce pride in them meant that they would often accompany him on his visits to friends, and his openness and honesty served as a faultless lesson in parenthood that they would be able to transfer into their own adult lives. It was his greatest gift to them. He probably did not tell his mother quite everything about his intense friendship with Jane Brookfield, the wife of one of his close friends from Cambridge days. She was beautiful and intelligent, and flattered by the attentions of the eminent writer. In describing themselves as brother and sister, she and Thackeray were playing a dangerous game that suited THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 17
them both; if they never became lovers, on Thackeray’s side the relationship was illicit in intent. When Brookfield eventually prevented her from receiving Thackeray any more, the writer felt betrayed, as if by a lover, and emptied his frustrations into the cathartic Henry Esmond (1852). In later years, Jane Brookfield proved to be Annie’s greatest challenge when she decided to publish some of her letters from Thackeray, in carefully edited versions. It is therefore ironic that the favourable reception of these letters persuaded Annie of the merits of publishing certain Thackeray materials herself, as a way of creating a biographical portrait whilst such a possibility was still within her control. Minny was the first of the Thackeray sisters to marry, becoming Leslie Stephen’s first wife in 1867. He could not have made a happier choice, for her persistent refusal to take him too seriously rescued Leslie from his tendency towards crusty donnishness. Her early death during childbirth in 1875 was hard for him to bear. The later celebrity of two of the children of his subsequent marriage to Julia Duckworth, herself a niece of the pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, has inevitably made this second union a better-known affair (the famous pair were Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell), but it does not change the fact that Leslie was never happier than during his years with Minny. After Minny’s death, Annie at the age of 40 would marry her much younger second cousin, Richmond Ritchie, who rose to become Permanent Under-Secretary at the India Office. Although the marriage was not without its difficulties, motherhood gave her great joy, for she had assumed
Sketch of Thackeray, 1860, by Frederick Walker. Courtesy of the estate of Belinda Norman-Butler.
that at her age such unexpected fulfilment had passed her by. Having established herself since her earliest years as the family chronicler, she eventually found a way of liberating herself from her father’s constraining injunction. Her edition of Thackeray’s major works included extended introductions to each volume, drawing on his unpublished letters, diaries and drawings, as well as other family papers. First published in 1898–9, a revised version was published in 1911 as the Centenary Biographical Edition. It would be good to think that Thackeray’s double century in July 2011 might witness a revival of interest in his books, for who now knows more than Vanity Fair, and that quite possibly from a television serial or filmed version. Even as he was working on its monthly numbers
William Makepeace Thackeray was a founder member of the London Library and its first auditor. Twenty years later he tried, unsuccessfully, to secure his friend Thomas Carlyle as an early contributor to the Cornhill Magazine, which launched in 1860 with Thackeray as its first editor. In his last years he probably had thoughts of using the Library more intensively, as he had ambitions to write a study of the reign of Queen Anne, having previously used the British Museum to research historically based works like The Virginians and Denis Duval. But time ran out on him. The family links with the Library were carried on by his elder daughter, for Annie refers in her journal to books borrowed as background for her own writings, whilst his future son-in-law, Leslie Stephen
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he was complaining that ‘Vanity Fair does everything but pay’ , but in due course sales increased and his position was secured. It was his longest work to date, and would be followed by his other serial works, Pendennis (1848–50), The Newcomes (1853–5), The Virginians (1857–9) and Philip (1861–2), as well as his one threedecker novel Henry Esmond, a work held in special reverence by Anthony Trollope. Denis Duval was left incomplete in 1863, when aged 52 Thackeray succumbed to a massive seizure in the early hours of Christmas Eve, dying in bed in the Queen Anne-style house that he had had built in Palace Green close to Kensington Palace. The Year’s Work in English Studies, the annual survey of critical writing in literature, has got into the habit of having to report somewhat wistfully ‘another thin year in Thackeray studies’ . There may be good reasons for this. He is not the easiest of Victorian novelists to get to know quickly, for the writing is densely textured. Nor are things made simpler by a disconcerting tendency to expect the reader to be able to cross-refer to others of his novels, something that probably established an intimacy with his loyal contemporary readers but can be problematic for us. Nevertheless, Thackeray offers a rich if challenging reading experience, his drily ironic manner paradoxically underpinning a deep and non-judgemental sympathy with his fellow creatures. He was the least vain of nineteenth-century writers and transparently honest about his own frailties, all of which ought to make him attractive to us. Perhaps his time has come again.
(who became editor of the Cornhill Magazine in 1871, some ten years after Thackeray) was elected the Library’s President in 1892. There is something reassuringly timeless about the one surviving note in Thackeray’s hand connected to his own history as a London Library borrower. Probably dating from 1857, and relating to his early thoughts for his new novel, The Virginians, for which he read up on John Wilkes, the single line was delivered by hand to the issue-desk staff: ‘Please give the bearer any books relative to Wilks (J) wh. may be in the Library.’ Even allowing for online catalogues and search tools, it is the kind of thing that any of us might have written, and captures that welcome informality in the Library’s workings that still pertains.
WINE TRIBES Social anthropology and the Library’s wine book collection From books on the powerful wine families of Bordeaux to arcane titles on wine labels, the Library’s wine book collection is wide-ranging and surprising in its scope, as Rosalind Cooper discovers
Californian vineyards in the Central Valley region. Courtesy of Laithwaites.
n element of mystery is integral to the way the wine world operates. Take this away, and you are left with a simple beverage that virtually creates itself, when ripe grapes are left to ferment. Wrapping wine in a cloak of romance has helped to raise quality standards over hundreds of years, and has also made a very good living for the interconnected families of wine. Preserving that sensation of faint insecurity when faced with a wine label means that the wine lover will always be on a quest for more information about vineyards, wineries and winemakers; the thirst for knowledge is never quenched, it seems, however many books about wine may appear. The Library’s wine book collection, filed under S. Wine and located in the stacks closest to the first-floor Reading Room, takes a characteristically quirky approach to wine. On the one hand, it has books that view the subject as a historic culture which repays analysis. On the other, there are tales of those passionate individuals and families who have helped
to create the elaborate, nay labyrinthine, system of wine laws, wine production and wine practices today. What the Library notably omits from its shelves are those bestselling, down-to-earth, frankly dull manuals devoted to helping us find our way around the shelves of our local supermarket or off-licence. There is really no interest in price comparison here, little analysis of trends and fashions, or in random listings of top wines; and the collection is far more rewarding for the reader as a result. Too many wine books fail to put this thrilling, sensuous drink into context and bring it to life for the reader. Wine, after all, appeals to all five senses. Visually, there’s the brilliant colour displayed in the shapely glass; the romantic gloom of the traditional cellar; the glory of the vineyards in full leaf. Then there are the charming, fruity aromas of a young wine and the complex bouquet of leaf mould and old velvet of an older one, for the nose; and the perfect balance of a fine wine with a well-chosen dish, followed by the lingering, tactile sensation
of the rounded alcohols and the remaining fragrance of the grape on the palate. Even our ears are tantalised: the sigh of a Champagne cork as it’s eased from the bottle, the anticipatory clink of glasses, the faint sizzle of the bubbles as the wine is poured; these are all a triumph of the winemaker’s art and cunning. Wine thrives in secrecy, and uncovering those secrets is a powerful part of its attraction. Some years ago, while I was living in California, a visit to an Italian family winery proved the point. After the usual hour spent admiring the modern winery and the fine old ageing cellar with its barrels, we repaired to the family house for a tasting. ‘Would you care to inspect our secret winery in the bedroom?’ enquired our host, with just a hint of a leer. This startling suggestion led to the discovery of a complete winemaking facility in a tiny, cramped storeroom, accessed via what appeared to be a wardrobe. As the family had launched themselves in California at the time of Prohibition, they found it prudent to start out in this low-key fashion, meanwhile THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 19
‘classification of all the various materials including gold, silver, porcelain, tortoise shell, mother of pearl’ , which were used for ornamental labels. Returning to the tribal theme, the story of port is at the heart of the British wine trade. The Library has a copy of Port Wine and Oporto (1949), written by a distinguished member of a port family, Ernest Cockburn, who reveals that treaties involving port wine were made as far back
House. This is a Georgian gentlemen’s club that matches any to be found in Pall Mall; a beautiful building consecrated to the British port producers who have all lived for so many generations in Portugal, yet remain unquenchably and recognisably old school tie. Cockburn describes the dining room, ‘beautifully decorated beforehand by the ladies of the British “colony” ’ . This curious colonialism is still very much apparent today, as is a unusual custom, whereby guests move to another identically furnished and elegant dining room, adjacent to the first, the better to appreciate fine nuances of a vintage-dated port and some fresh cracked walnuts. However grand the wine, it invariably tastes better when matched with the ideal food. This is especially true of red
as 1147 (with King Stephen of England) and that, as Portugal is our oldest trading ally, this wine has been shipped here continuously for hundreds of years since. In Mr Cockburn’s view: ‘Good wine is a Gentleman; treat it as such. ’ Given the effort that goes into cultivating grapes on the scorched, vertiginous slopes of the River Douro, treading them in the traditional fashion (still, I can vouch from personal experience, the case for the finest vintage styles), then blending, ageing and finally shipping, here is a wine that does command respect. In Oporto there is what was called the British Association in Cockburn’s day, now commonly referred to as the Factory
Burgundy, as Pinot Noir can seem light, acidic and even ‘dirty’ in flavour unless it’s paired with something rich and delicious: a coq au vin, perhaps, or some snails with garlic and butter. A Book of Burgundy (1958) by Pierre Poupon and Pierre Forgeot, is a beautiful volume with memorable lithographs of elemental sketches of the vine and the bottle, vibrant with primary colour, by Denis Mathews. Presented in a landscape format to maximise the impact of the images, this is no coffee-table volume, but a lyrical hymn to the seasonal nature of wine and its ties to terroir, that tricky French word that implies the ‘rightness’ of a certain vineyard for a certain grape type, and a certain
Opposite, from left Gaston Derys’s Mon Docteur le Vin, with illustrations by Raoul Dufy (1936), 2003 edition; Thomas Pinney’s A History of Wine in America, vol.1 (1989), 2007 edition; Dr N.M. Penzer’s The Book of the Wine-Label (1947). Below A typical chateau in the Bordeaux region. Courtesy of Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux.
purchasing acres of virgin orchard, ripe for development as vineyard once the ban was lifted. This glorious, entrepreneurial spirit informs much of the wine world at present, with wine being made (with varying degrees of success) in China, Japan, India and even tropical Thailand. Thomas Pinney’s book, A History of Wine in America (2 vols, 1989, 2005), is a fairly straightforward account of the wines and winemakers in the various US states, and gives a lively account of the characters who helped shape the story of wine in the USA, particularly California. It is also good on the historical background to the industry. Despite the best efforts of the puritanical faction to play down the pleasure to be found in wine drinking, the USA has proved a rich source of imaginative wine production. Today, virtually every state in the Union has vineyards (in Hawaii, they are pineapple plantations, but wine is made nonetheless), and there is every possible style of wine on offer, from the famed California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon to the light, sophisticated Riesling of the New York Finger Lakes, the fashionable bottles crafted in the fake chateaux of Long Island, and the spicy reds from Virginia, frequently made with a grape variety called Petit Verdot, which has come a long way from its origins in Bordeaux. Bordeaux, home to some of the most desirable and collectable wines on the planet, is also a place where the tribal aspect of wine is most apparent. Powerful families have always played a key role in keeping the status quo here; 20 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
from the Rothschilds to the Bartons, the Mentzelopoulos to the Gilbeys, it’s apparent that there are international influences afoot. The fascinating Victorian Vineyard: Château Loudenne and the Gilbeys (1983), by British wine writer Nicholas Faith, draws a portrait of one dynasty, humbler than most, which began with a couple of hard-working brothers who spotted a money-making opportunity in establishing the idea of wine agencies, the exclusive distribution of various wines to the British market. Their listings include bizarre wine-based concoctions such as Invalid Port, Quinine Sherry and that invaluable standby, Invalid Champagne, all claimed to be highly eﬃcacious: ‘During the influenza epidemic of last year, the Medical Profession prescribed with the most marked success the brands of W&A Gilbey, ’ declared an early advertising campaign. No surprise, then, that chemists were selected as early stockists of their agency portfolio of wines, with a canny deal that meant they were sold at fixed prices. This reflects the parallel system of traders called négociants back in Bordeaux, who traditionally controlled sales of all key wines, and even blended and stored lesser wines to a customer’s palate. According to Faith, in more recent history, a certain David Peppercorn (now a renowned UK wine writer and consultant) was ‘arguably the possessor of the finest palate in the Gilbeys’ service’ , despite the awkward fact that he was ‘not a family member’ . Together with the urbane Martin Bamford, Peppercorn held court at the lovely pink Chateau Loudenne, ‘a treat in the
curious, uninspiring peninsula of the Médoc’ . Dozens of fortunate guests and clients (including my own father) spent a relaxed time in this British enclave first set up by the Gilbey family, with its library containing hundreds of rare wine books and its charming apartments. American chef Julia Child was regaled with ‘fresh marinated sardines and an aloyau of beef grilled on vine branches’ (this last a timely reminder that wine is also a downto-earth, agricultural product) and she enjoyed a ‘spectacular bottle of Loudenne 1971’ . Stepping sideways from the wine to the bottle for an instant, this subject has its own intriguing story. In Wine Drinking in Oxford 1640–1850 (1997) by Fay Banks, this British Archaeological Report details a similar tale of opportunism to that of the Gilbeys, in an earlier era. In 1661, there were just five taverns known in Oxford, and all wine could only be supplied by vintners based in them; so inns, alehouses and distinguished colleges alike derived their bottles from this restricted source. During that period, we learn, the wines tended to be Spanish or Portuguese (including fortified Madeira and port), sold in the suggestively named Shaft and Globe bottles, and then in shorter, squatter versions called Onions. Finally, the familiar cylindrical bottle made its appearance around 1740, coinciding with the breaking of the taverns’ monopoly and the wider availability of wine. Those intrigued by the topic of wine bottles and labels throughout the ages might also like to peruse The Book of the WineLabel (1947) by Dr N.M. Penzer, with its
wine. Poupon stresses the importance of family and continuity in this business: ‘My son is just 16, and he could take my place now if need be. My whole heart is in my vineyard, my wine, the land I can see from my window. ’ He refers to the ‘Royal Family of the Wines of Burgundy’ (French vignerons are famed for their conservatism): the King is Le Chambertin, the Queen, La Romanée-Conti, and the Regent, Le Clos Vougeot. According to Arthur Young, an English visitor cited in the book, ‘In Burgundy their vineyards are like gardens’ , a reference to the walled domains such as Clos Vougeot, but also to the beauty of the rows of vines, I suspect, with a rose bush at the end of each. As always in the wine world, these pretty flowers serve a practical purpose, too, acting as an early warning of fungal disease. Poupon, like English wine writer Hugh Johnson (who writes knowledgeably about horticulture as well as wine), knows that vines are just part of the cultivated plant world, referring to ‘That most delicate of fruit trees, the vine’ . This type of sensibility has always appealed to the British temperament, today more than ever, as we all seek to live a little closer to the land and to eat and drink in a considerate fashion. In French vineyards, treating the vines with as few chemicals as possible is known as ‘la lutte raisonnée’ , which translates as the rational struggle, or reasoned struggle. If the wine is healthy, surely we too shall be healthier? There is another lovely volume in the Library that echoes this thought. With illustrations by Raoul Dufy, Mon Docteur le Vin (first published in 1936) by Gaston Derys was commissioned by a certain M. Nicolas to boost sales in his wine shops. The wonderfully witty pictures cover vital topics such as ‘How Wine Maintains Youth and Beauty’ or ‘Makes a Fine Figure of a Man’ , with plenty of appropriate quotations and aphorisms. What could be more up to date yet, at the same time, more antique? Over the centuries, all the various tribes of winemakers and merchants have tried to persuade us of the near-magic properties of this beverage. As long as its core of mystery is maintained, there seems no reason why wine should not continue to sustain its precious status for centuries to come. Certainly, those from the ‘wine tribes’ would have it no other way. THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 21
Lonely novelist, GSOH, wide interests, WLTM borrower Richard Heller on ‘lonelyheart’ volumes on the Library’s shelves, waiting to be discovered
It is, in every sense, a sad thing to do: borrow your own book from the London Library. I had to. I discovered that, in the fifteen years since I presented my cricket novel A Tale Of Ten Wickets (1994), no one had borrowed it. The blank issue slip in the cover seemed to mock me. So I took it away myself to get a stamp in it. (Did the assistant notice that the borrower had the same name as the author? If so, her face remained admirably straight.) The experience made me wonder whether there were any other ‘lonelyheart’ books, waiting disconsolately for a borrower. Indeed there are, as I discovered in a morning trawl through the shelves. Many are by distinguished authors; some have been unborrowed for more than a century. I began my ramble among my neighbours in Fiction, H. I quickly discovered The Plowers (1906) by Agnes Grozier Herbertson, acquired by the Library in 1907 (when membership cost 3 guineas a year, about £250 in today’s money). Herbertson was famous, although mainly as a poet and children’s author. Two of her moving Great War poems, Airman RFC and The Seed Merchant’s Son, have been used as set texts for English GCSE. I can say – without fear of contradiction from any previous London Library member – that The Plowers is a romantic novel with a compelling central character and some strong emotional passages. It centres on young, intelligent Poppy Russ, trapped in a lonely house in a loveless marriage to an obsessive scientist, 22 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
who conducts sinister experiments on the human brain. Poppy soon comes to hate him. The plot is a bit underpowered and the prose a bit over-lush (mostly Poppy ruminating about marriage and God). But the villains are excellent, and the novel gathers momentum at the finish, with genuine suspense as Poppy chooses between the two good men who really love her. The Plowers deserves a more successful second century. Further into Fiction, H., I lit on Mrs Coralie Hobson’s The Revolt Of Youth. Published and acquired in 1919, it is dedicated to Edward Garnett, the great literary editor and patron. His support did not help her in the Library, where no one has borrowed the novel for more than 90 years. Details of her life are sketchy. She wrote at least two other novels, which are not in the Library. In Our Town (published by the Hogarth Press) appeared in 1923; Bed And Breakfast (1927) made little impact, even with the help of illustrations by Pearl Binder. Louie, the heroine of The Revolt of Youth, grows up in a respectable lowermiddle-class family in a drab English provincial town before the Great War. As a teenager, she discovers that her selfish father is a hopeless debtor and that her beautiful but distant mother has a scandalous other life. She escapes to rich cousins in London and falls in love with one of them, Hugh, a medical student. Apparently doomed to become a book-keeper, she makes a series of
Top Joseph Hocking’s Lest We Forget (1901). Above Emerson Hough’s The Girl at the Halfway House (1901).
further escapes, on to the stage with Mrs Beaumont Bentick’s touring troupers, into the bohemian artistic life of Camden, and into one of the movements for women’s rights. All these escapes are vividly described, especially the heartbreaking passage where Louie muffs her big chance as understudy to Ophelia. Returning to the rich cousins, she all but ruins herself when she is discovered visiting Hugh’s room at night. But she experiences an epiphany when she is forgiven by Hugh’s mother, and learns the nobility of being a wife. Another interesting discovery. Fiction, H. also yielded Joseph Hocking’s Lest We Forget (1901), acquired second-hand in 1994 and never borrowed since. Hocking was a late Victorian Methodist minister, who wrote more than 100 successful historical novels, mostly with a religious theme: 19 are in the Library. How and why the Library acquired Lest We Forget so long after first publication is a mystery, although an inscription from 1936 reveals that it was presented to a Sunday school teacher, Mr A.J. Holloway, ‘as a small token of remembrance’ . It is a ripping adventure yarn set in the reign of ‘Bloody’ Mary Tudor. The young hero, Richard Hamsteed, fights to save his sweetheart, Faith, from the clutches of the dastardly Spanish spy, Toledo. Although he repeatedly has Toledo at his mercy, Hamsteed repeatedly reprieves him; a dumb decision in each case, but it allows Hocking to throw in more duels. Hamsteed also encounters the Protestant martyrs and nearly becomes one himself; he and Faith are saved by the bell tolling the death of Queen Mary. Hocking’s dialogue sometimes lapses into Fowler’s ‘Wardour Street’ , with jarring thees and haths and ayes and nays, even the occasional perchance. But he is a fine storyteller, who avoids didactic propaganda; indeed, his best-observed character is a villain, Mary’s Chancellor, Bishop Gardiner, a prototype modern dictator.
My next lonelyheart novel turned out to be a real surprise. Eric Hodgins’ Blandings Way (1951) was the sequel to his bestseller Mr Blandings Builds his Dream House (1946), made into a successful film in 1948 starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. Blandings Way was presented to the Library in 2003 ‘in memory of Edward Philip George’ . Why have members spurned it? They missed a fine satirical novel, which targets American city and rural life with equal success. Despising his proficiency as a copywriter (especially his giant neon-lit laxative slogan), James Blandings takes his wife and daughters to the country, where he harbours doomed fantasies of achievement and acceptance from the suspicious, self-selecting local worthies. Nothing goes right. Even his vegetables conspire against him, moving unpredictably from blight to glut and brought under control only by an accidental fire. Undeterred by repeated setbacks, Blandings commits the ultimate folly of buying the local newspaper. Clearly based on real experience, Hodgins observes Blandings’ rural misadventures with pleasing irony, until he gives him a happy ending – back in the city as an advertising man. And still they came – more and more never-borrowed novels from Fiction, H. I enjoyed two romantic blockbusters, each ignored for more than a century. G. Hope (Miss Jessie Hope) was a distant cousin of Anthony Hope, author of the celebrated Ruritanian fantasy The Prisoner of Zenda (1894). She carried on the family tradition with her vivid Ruritanian novel Amalia (1907, acquired 1908). Her heroine, youngest daughter of the Prince of Salzheim-Schlusselburg, marries Karl, the beleaguered ruler of the Balkan state of Montarvia. It is an arranged marriage, from which he expects nothing except an heir, but her grace, beauty and steadfast qualities turn it into a real partnership. Emerson Hough (1857–1923) was an American journalist and political activist, patriotic to the point of xenophobia,
who wrote dozens of successful novels about the American West. Two are in the Library, including The Girl at the Halfway House (1901, acquired 1902). Its main characters, James Franklin and Mary Ellen Beauchamp, head for the Plains beyond the Missouri River, to make a new life after the Civil War. He was a captain in the Northern army, a veteran of the (fictional) siege of Louisberg, where she had lost her fiancé among the beaten Southern defenders. He loves her – but with her fierce sense of honour and loyalty to the dead fiancé’s memory, she rejects him and returns to the South. He has a successful life in the Plains, but it is empty without her and he walks thousands of miles to beseech her to return. For all their fervour, Hope and Hough cannot match the romantic figure of Robert M. Stark, whom I found not in Fiction but in the Botany section of Science and Miscellaneous. Stark’s A Popular History of British Mosses (1854) proved a misnomer in the Library, for it has never been borrowed since its acquisition in 1860. Readers have missed a story of passion. Stark was an amateur, and his masterpiece was written ‘in the leisure intervals permitted by business’ . I imagine Stark chained to the ledgers in a grim counting-house, pining for his beloved mosses as Wodehouse’s Gussie Fink-Nottle yearned for the sight of a newt. He fiercely defends the study of mosses, pays tribute to great predecessor muscologists, including King Solomon, quotes moss-inspired poetry and cites the value of mosses to humanity, before producing a definitive account of the classification, distribution and characteristics of all the main mosses. His reward: 150 years of neglect (I swear that the book had grown moss of its own when I removed it). Like all the lonelyheart books on its shelves, Stark’s magnum opus is a tribute to the magnificent eclecticism of the Library’s collection. Does any other lending library offer readers so many brilliant titles to ignore? THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 23
EYES ON THE PRIZE A.C. Grayling offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the Wellcome Trust Book Prize judging process
n one way, judging a book prize is the most straightforward of tasks. You are looking for quality: in the writing, the conception, the organisation, the achievement
of aim. If it is fiction you are judging, you are further looking for astuteness of characterisation, verisimilitude, perceptiveness, emotional effect, the insistent drawing power of the story or situation that makes it necessary to keep turning the pages. If it is non-fiction you are judging, you expect the instruction, persuasive argument, insights, the general window-opening that is every non-fiction work’s implicit promise, for why else would it exist? Armed with these criteria, you settle to your task of reading a teetering pile of submitted books and manuscripts, only to find that their variety begins to make the neatness of the criteria seem illusory. Books are as various as their authors, and when they have what is in truth that part-indefinable quality of being ‘good’, whatever their genre, it is because of the magic that the author works. And literary magic, by its nature, is not easy to define. Beginning to read the submissions for this year’s Wellcome Trust Book Prize
instantly revived the feeling I had on opening the first package of Man Booker Prize books some years ago: a sobering thrill of anticipation, if you can imagine such a thing, at the responsibility and the pleasure in store. Apart from the reading itself, the best aspect of the task is the judges’ periodic discussions, the debates about merits and problems, the justification of preferences, the delicate and demanding business of being both fair to the books and true to one’s responses to them. A big difference between the Man Booker Prize and the Wellcome Prize is that the books contending for the latter make a very mixed bag: fiction, memoir, non-fiction, the latter from near-textbook status to first-hand accounts of specific events or experiences. The single unifying criterion is that the books must somehow illuminate and educate with regard to some aspect of medicine or illness, thus relating to the chief purpose of the Wellcome Trust’s work of supporting medical research. The heterogeneity of the books in competition, obviously enough, makes for a greatly more difficult task, a chalk and cheese task, posing a series of gaps that neither beauty of prose nor emotional
impact is by itself enough to bridge. In reading a pile of novels, most of them at least good of their kind (they would not have been published otherwise), a rhythm establishes itself, a sense of where the book in one’s hand lies on a comparative scale given the shared purpose in art of the novel, something that begins to formulate itself through the differences in temperament, skill and execution displayed by the novelists themselves. It is indeed as if the novelists themselves tell you, jointly, what a good novel is, and which among those then on offer is most effectively achieving that good. But in reading a pile of books of very various sorts, a steeper challenge offers. You find yourself adopting this strategy: you make a ranking among books of the
Shortlist for the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize Below, left to right Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That; Emma Henderson’s Grace Williams Says it Loud; Tim Parks’ Teach Us to Sit Still; Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; Gareth Williams’ Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox; John Nichol’s and Tony Rennell’s Medic: Saving Lives – from Dunkirk to Afghanistan; all published 2010.
same general type; then you find yourself wondering what makes the top-ranking examples of one type ‘better’ than the top-rankers from another. This is the crucial bit. For ‘better’ does not only mean better written, better organised, more successful in attaining its purpose, although of course it means these things too. It also means ‘better’ from the point of view of the competition’s aim of selecting the outstanding book of any genre with a medical connotation. Does this novel do it, from which we learn so much about a condition suffered by a lead character? Or does that memoir do it, in which the relative of a victim of disease gives us deep insights into the experience from both the victim’s and the carer’s perspectives? Which among these histories of given diseases, or those accounts of emergency medicine or medical detective work, do it better? The interesting thing is that, after a while, and against expectation, front runners to emerge1 from Londonindeed Librarybegin AD.3_Layout 04/11/2010
the enjoyably taxing work of reading and thinking, debating and making a case for or against. The shortlist for the Wellcome Prize by itself illustrates the range of the task, for it does not privilege one genre over others; if anything, it exacerbates the problem of differences, by proving that no single genre of literature leaves the others behind. That is a striking and heartening fact, and one of the best lessons to emerge
from the experience. And yet: out of all the smoke and dust of effort, on the day the winner was decided, I knew which book, for me, had risen above its competitors, not merely to deserve the accolade, but to deserve it richly. WINNER TEXT TO COME
HIGH SOCIETY Mind-altering drugs in history and culture 11 November 2010 – 27 February 2011 • Free exhibition With the illicit drug trade estimated by the UN at $320 billion (£200bn) a year and new drugs constantly appearing on the streets and the internet, it can seem as if we are in the grip of an unprecedented level of addiction. Yet the use of psychoactive drugs is nothing new, and indeed our most familiar ones – alcohol, coffee, tobacco – have all been illegal in the past. From ancient Egyptian poppy tinctures to Victorian cocaine eye drops, Native American peyote rites to the salons of the French Romantics, mind-altering drugs have a rich history. The Wellcome Collection’s exhibition High Society will explore the paths by which these drugs were first discovered – from apothecaries’ workshops to state-of-the-art laboratories – and how they came to be simultaneously fetishised and demonised in today’s culture. Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE 020 7611 2222. wellcomecollection.org 12:10 Page 1
LONDON LIBRARIANS BLACKS private members’ club now welcomes London Library members to enjoy our KITCHEN and CELLAR and to appreciate our open ﬁres and listed interior between 11am– 6pm daily. Please call to reserve a table
SIMPLY SHOW YOUR LONDON LIBRARY CARD FOR ADMISSION. NO MOBILE PHONES PLEASE
BLACKS 67 DEAN STRE ET LON D ON W1D 4QH T: 0 2 0 7 2 8 7 3 3 8 1
24 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 25
MEMBERS’ News UPDATE: THE BOOK FUND
UPDATE: THE Founders’ CIRCLE
Each year, the Library acquires some 8,000 new volumes, keeping our collections as relevant and up to date as possible. The cost of each new book goes beyond its purchase price: cataloguing every acquisition, preparing it for the shelf and creating space for it also takes staff time, expertise and materials. Likewise, the care of books over their long lifetime is a never-ending task for our dedicated Conservation team. Donations from generous members and supporters totalling just over £100,000 since the Book Fund was launched in 2008 have helped us to expand our collections with new materials – including vital electronic resources – and take care of the precious resources we have already. Book Fund donors are acknowledged annually in the Library’s magazine, and your name or that of a family member or friend (an ideal Christmas gift for the person who has everything!) will appear on a specially produced bookplate in a number of our new volumes. ‘Your’ books will remain on our shelves for generations to come. If you wish to make a donation to the Book Fund, please contact Fiona Smith-Cutting in the Development Office (020 7766 4704) or you can make your donation online by going to londonlibrary.co.uk/donate.html
The Founders’ Circle was launched at a reception in the Reading Room on 28 September with speeches from our Chairman, Librarian and President. The purpose of the Founders’ Circle is to generate significant funds to support the Library’s ongoing running costs whilst also ensuring that those who sign up join their fellows throughout the year at entertaining parties, visits to other institutions and talks given by the great and the good. Our ambitious target is to generate £200,000 plus per annum. September’s inaugural event has already generated approximately £125,000 so we are well on the way to reaching our target. Members who wish to help us are heartily encouraged to do so. There are three levels of annual membership: Dickens, Thackeray and Martineau, at £10,000, £5,000 and £1,500 respectively. If you are considering joining and would like to hear more please contact Lottie Cole on 020 7766 4716.
NEW MEMBER OFFERS While the loss of Gift Aid has had a significant and negative impact on the Library’s finances, it does mean that we are no longer prevented from securing additional benefits that add value to your London Library membership. We are pleased to be partnering with Blacks members’ club in Dean Street, Soho, to offer free daytime membership to Library members throughout 2011. From 1 January 2011 members will have another delightful haven in central London – an excellent place to take a break from work! See page 25 for additional information on Blacks. Further benefits are detailed in the Christmas Shopping Guide on pages 26–7, and will be updated in the Magazine and on the website throughout the year.
Find us on Facebook The Library now has more than 1,000 ‘fans’ on its Facebook page – both members and non-members, from all around the world. This online presence is a terrific way to spread the word about the Library and to pass on timely messages, reminders and general news to members. In the coming months we’ll be expanding our online activity and would love to have as many members as possible involved. Watch for updates on the Library’s website, on Facebook and in the next issue of the Magazine. 28 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
FESTIVAL NEWS The LL IN Jaipur Next year’s Jaipur Literature Festival, running from 21–25 January 2011, will again feature a host of London Library members including A.C. Grayling, Alex von Tunzelmann, William Fiennes, Alex Bellos, Antonia Fraser, Isabel Hilton, Andrew Lycett, Jung Chang, Anthony Sattin and Katie Hickman. We could ask for no better ambassadors, demonstrating the great breadth of reading, writing and thinking facilitated by the Library’s collections. Library member William Dalrymple is a Director of the Festival, which has been described as Asia’s leading literary event. For more information, see the Festival website: jaipurliteraturefestival.org.
STAY LATER STAY LONGER STAY AFTER WORK A reminder to all members that, from Monday, 1 November, the Library’s opening hours have changed. On Wednesdays we now close a little earlier, at 5.30pm, but members are able to enjoy extended opening hours on Monday and Tuesday evenings until 9pm. Settle in for a longer stretch of work – or simply peaceful browsing and reading – at the end of the day. NEW OPENING HOURS Monday: 9.30am – 9pm Tuesday: 9.30am – 9pm Wednesday: 9.30am – 5.30pm Thursday: 9.30am – 5.30pm Friday: 9.30am – 5.30pm Saturday: 9.30am – 5.30pm
rECENT LITErArY AWArDs Congratulations to the Library members who were nominated for or have won literary awards recently Ned Beauman, Boxer, Beetle, shortlisted for the 2010 Guardian First Book Award Antony Beevor, D-Day, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award Non-Fiction Book of the Year Alex Bellos, Alex’s Adventures in Numberland, shortlisted for the 2010 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction; shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award NonFiction Book of the Year William Blacker, Along the Enchanted Way, shortlisted for the 2010 Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award Anita Brookner, Strangers, shortlisted for the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Fiction)
Bill Bryson, At Home, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award Non-Fiction Book of the Year A.S. Byatt, The Children’s Book, winner of the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Fiction) Matthew Engel, Eleven Minutes Late: A Train Journey to the Soul of Britain, shortlisted for the 2010 Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award Antonia Fraser, Must You Go?, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award Non-Fiction Book of the Year Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award Tesco Biography of the Year Philippa Gregory, The Red Queen, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award Sainsbury’s Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award Kazuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes, shortlisted for the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Fiction) Andrew Marr, The Making Of Modern
Britain, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award NonFiction Book of the Year Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award W.H. Smith Children’s Book of the Year David Nicholls, One Day, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award Sainsbury’s Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award William Philpott, Bloody Victory: The Sacriﬁce on the Somme and the Making of the Twentieth Century, winner of the 2009 Society for Army Historical Research Templer Medal Book Competition, and of the united States Branch of the Western Front Association’s 2009 Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr. Book Prize for the best work of history on World War One in English Tony Rennell (co-author with John Nichol), Medic, shortlisted for the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize Susan Richards, Lost and Found
in Russia, shortlisted for the 2010 Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award Ian Thomson, The Dead Yard, winner of the 2010 Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award Nikolai Tolstoy, The Oldest Prose Literature: The Compilation of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, shortlisted for the 2010 Wales Book of the Year Jenny Uglow, A Gambling Man, shortlisted for the 2010 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes, shortlisted for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Award National Book Tokens New Writer of the Year Sarah Waters, winner of the 2010 Glamour magazine Writer of the Year Award The magazine would welcome any information from members who have won or been nominated for prizes, to be included in future issues. Please send details to: email@example.com
CHRISTMAS CARD 2010 Our Christmas card offers an excellent opportunity for members to help make the Library more widely known and to generate much-needed income. This year’s card is by master illustrator and engraver John Lawrence, whose work is in many public collections including the V&A, the Ashmolean, the Museum of Wales and collections in the u.S.A. John has illustrated more than 150 books including Philip Pullman’s beautiful Lyra’s Oxford (2003), and his festive take on the Library’s façade is an exquisite example of his delicate, intricate style using tools and methods of engraving from the eighteenth century. Cards are printed in full colour on high-quality card at a standard size (184 x 121mm). The cards are available in packs of 8, together with high-quality peel-and-seal envelopes. The price is £5.00 per pack, including VAT, postage and handling. Cards will also be on sale in the Library at £4.00 per pack including VAT. Please return this form to: The London Library Christmas Card Orders 14 St James’s Square London SW1Y 4LG
MESSAGE INSIDE CARD READS: With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year
YOUR NAME (BLOCK CAPITALS PLEASE)
PLEASE SEND ME:
______ pack(s) of Christmas Cards, at £5.00 per pack: £______
Please make your cheque payable to The London Library
30 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
____________________________ POST CODE ________________
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING GUIDE AND MEMBERS’ OFFERS BLACKS The Library has partnered with Blacks club in Soho to bring an additional outstanding member benefit throughout 2011: Blacks is allowing London Library members access to its elegant private club from 11am–6pm daily. Take a break to enjoy the club’s open fires, comfortable sofas and outstanding food and wine, just ten minutes walk from St James’s Square. See p.25 for more information – and don’t forget that if you give London Library membership as a gift, you now also give the recipient access to another very special London bolthole. DAKS Daks is a quintessential British luxury brand, which has recently celebrated its 115th anniversary. Proud to hold three Royal warrants, the company specialises in menswear, womenswear and accessories and is recognised internationally by its House Check. DAKS is pleased to offer London Library members a 10% discount at its stores in Old Bond Street and Jermyn Street on production of their membership card until 24 December 2010. 10 Old Bond Street, W1, 020 7409 4040; 101 Jermyn Street, SW1, 020 7839 9980. daks.com
D.R. Harris D.R. Harris, Royal Warrant holder to HRH The Prince of Wales and purveyor of fine soaps, fragrances, shaving creams and other luxury grooming products, is pleased to welcome you into the store, or to visit us online, to enjoy an exclusive 10% discount (quote ‘London Library’ along with your membership number). From soaps to shaving creams, body lotions 26 THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE
to skincare, as well as our newly launched Naturals collection, sample something special with D.R. Harris. 29 St James’s Street, SW1. 020 7930 3915. drharris.co.uk
Emmett Shirts Emmett Shirts are delighted to offer a 25% discount until 15 December to London Library members on their first purchase from our range of ready-to-wear shirts. A 10% discount will be applicable thereafter until 31 March 2011. If you appreciate superior quality and are looking for a degree of exclusivity, then visit our shops at Jermyn Street, King’s Road and Eldon Street, where there are more than 400 designs each season to choose from. Please show your London Library membership card to obtain your discount. 112a Jermyn Street, SW1. 020 7925 1299. emmettshirts.com
FLORIS Still run by the original family from 89 Jermyn Street, Floris continue to create exquisite English perfumes that stand the test of time. To celebrate their 280th anniversary, Floris are delighted to offer London Library
members a 15% discount and a complimentary Rosa Centifolia Hand Treatment Cream worth £10 when they spend £70 pounds or more in the Floris Shop. Offer closes 24 December 2010. 89 Jermyn Street, SW1. 020 7930 2885. florislondon.com
FORTNUM & MASON Fortnum & Mason, since 1707, have been the quintessential English store, situated in the heart of Piccadilly. We are offering free standard delivery on orders of £50 or more* – from 3 December to 20 December. To redeem free delivery enter code ‘FMLL1’ at checkout when purchasing items at fortnumandmason.com, or quote when ordering over the phone on 0845 300 1707. *£50 order value per UK delivery address. Standard UK delivery is £4.95. Please refer to our full Terms & Conditions on our website. Does not apply to fresh orders, named day, next day and overseas orders. 181 Piccadilly W1. 020 7734 8040. fortnumandmason.com
Foster & Son Foster’s is renowned for its exquisite bespoke and ready-towear boots, shoes and slippers;
traditional English bridle leather luggage, cases and accessories; repair and refurbishment of shoes; and high-quality leather goods. Each item is made in England in the traditional way and can be bought in the shop or commissioned to give a unique, beautifully crafted product custom-made to individual specifications. Foster’s is offering a pre-Christmas 10% discount to London Library members on proof of membership. 83 Jermyn Street, SW1. 020 7930 5385. wsfoster.co.uk FREY WILLE Herald in a beautiful Christmas with Frey Wille. Vienna’s experts in fine enamelling herald in the winter season with a special offer just for London Library readers. Purchase an item worth £250 or more from any of our London boutiques and our Christmas gift to you will be
an exquisite 100% silk Gavroche scarf, worth more than £49, from our Sphinx collection. From our solid 18ct and diamond collections to our ever-popular enamel Diva bangles, beloved by wearers of fine jewellery all over the globe, live a Frey Wille Christmas. Offer open until 24 December 2010 on presentation of your London Library membership card. 153 Regent Street, W1. 020 7287 7382; 4a Sloane Street, SW1.
020 7235 1388; from the middle of December visit us at our new store, 45 Piccadilly, W1. freywille.com GEO F. TRUMPER When London Library members spend £50 at Geo F. Trumper, they will receive a complimentary 500ml Wild Fern Bath Cream (worth £20). Wild Fern is a wonderfully fresh, clean fragrance with notes of musk, oak moss and patchouli. Suitable for both men and women, Wild Fern Bath Cream creates a luxurious bath time, leaving skin delightfully fragrant and moisturised. 1 Duke of York Street, SW1. 020 7734 1370. trumpers.com
Granta Granta 113: The Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists is yours free when you take out a subscription to Granta (4 issues a year) at just £29.95. As a special offer to London Library members, we are adding a free copy of Granta 36: Vargas Llosa for President, in celebration of his recent Nobel Prize win – visit granta.com/London HANCOCKS Hancocks, founded in 1849 and still family-owned, is one of London’s oldest and finest specialist dealers buying and selling rare and collectible jewels. Hancocks is pleased to offer a £250 voucher to all members on production of this advert to be used against any purchases.* *This will not be redeemable against repairs and alterations, or the replica Victoria Cross, and is valid for 12 months.
52–53 Burlington Arcade, W1. 020 7493 8904. hancocks-london.com
LALIQUE René Lalique is synonymous with creativity, beauty and quality. This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth by reproducing some of his iconic designs. In 2009 the Lalique Company has merged with Daum Crystal and the famous porcelain maker Haviland in order to offer a wider range to its clientele. To members of the London Library, Lalique is pleased to offer a 10% discount on its collections on production of their membership card. Offer ends 31 December 2010. 47 Conduit Street W1. 020 7292 0444. cristallalique.fr MATHEW FOSTER Established in Mayfair since 1987, Mathew Foster offers a distinctive selection of stylish jewellery dating from the Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco periods through to the 1940s and 1950s. Our collection encompasses a wide price range affordable for all occasions. We are pleased
to offer all members of the London library a 10% discount on production of their membership card. 27 Burlington Arcade, W1. 020 7629 4977. mathew-foster.com N. PEAL Founded in 1936, N. Peal is considered the destination in London for luxury cashmere offering a wide range of styles for both men and women. We are delighted to offer members of the London Library a 15% discount on production of their membership card. This offer closes 24 December 2010. 37–40 Burlington Arcade, W1. 020 7499 6485. npeal.com
PENFRIEND Penfriend of the Burlington Arcade are delighted to offer the exciting range of Pelikan fine writing instruments presented in this superb heart-shaped gift box, at no extra cost, to members of the London Library. Pelikan fountain pens, ball- and roller-ball pens and propelling pencils make the perfect gift. This offer is only available on production of your London Library membership card and can only be used in conjunction with a purchase of Pelikan writing instruments. Offer closes 24 December 2010. 34 Burlington Arcade, London W1. 020 7499 6737. penfriend.co.uk
THE PEN SHOP The Pen Shop is Europe’s largest chain of writing instrument specialists and one of only two pen-shop chains in the world. The Pen Shop stocks a wide range of luxury pen brands including Mont Blanc, Faber Castell, Caran D’Ache, Cross, Parker and Waterman, whilst offering a number of gifts and accessories from suppliers such as Filofax and Grants of Dalvey. We are pleased to offer all members of the London Library a free Kingsley Ball Pen with any purchase over £75. Offer closes 24 December 2010 and is only applicable in Regent Street on production of a valid London Library membership card. 199 Regent Street, W1. 020 7734 4088. penshop.co.uk PHAIDON STORE Phaidon Store features our full range of beautiful publications on the world’s top artists, designers, photographers, architects, chefs and cultural commentators. We also showcase exclusive, limitededition artworks by leading contemporary artists. We offer free giftwrap, gift vouchers, bespoke orders and worldwide delivery. Quote ‘London Library’ to save 10% on purchases over £100 (excludes limited editions) until 31 December 2010. 173 Piccadilly, W1. 020 7495 3827. phaidon.com
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED GIVING A
GIFT MEMBERSHIP? For more information contact Bridie Macmahon in the Membership Office: 020 7766 4720
THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 27
Restaurant LISTINGS 3
EATING out near the Library This is an advertisement feature. To advertise call Janet Durbin on 01625 583180 1 ALAIN DUCASSE AT THE DORCHESTER Recently awarded three Michelin stars, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester has quickly become one of London’s most exciting restaurants. It is located in a light and elegant room with a contemporary design by Patrick Jouin, which overlooks Park Lane and Hyde Park. The restaurant offers a modern but refined French cuisine, as interpreted by Executive Chef Jocelyn Herland. The Dorchester, Park Lane, W1, 020 7629 8888. thedorchester.com 2 THE BAR AT THE DORCHESTER The delights of the cocktail hour have returned to London at The Bar at The Dorchester, which is renowned for its rich, opulent interior and its menu of new and classic cocktails. The Bar boasts a fine selection of spirits, champagnes and wines, with a menu of elegant tartines, indulgent caviars and a chic afternoon tea. The Dorchester, Park Lane, W1, 020 7629 8888. thedorchester.com 3 Bellamy's Restaurant Located in central Mayfair (near New Bond Street), Bellamy’s offers a classic French brasserie menu with an affordable famous-name wine list. Le patron mange ici. Open for lunch Mon–Fri; dinner Mon–Sat. 18–18a Bruton Place, W1, 020 7491 2727. bellamysrestaurant.co.uk 4 Bentley's Owned by celebrity chef Richard Corrigan, Bentley’s combines an intimate Grill restaurant with a more relaxed Oyster Bar and a lovely ‘al-fresco’ terrace. The Grill focuses firmly on the freshness of Bentley’s fish, meat and game. Open 12–3pm; 6–11pm. The Oyster Bar offers a delicious selection of shellfish and fresh seafood served at the Marble Counter or in the Champagne Bar. Open noon– midnight daily. 11–15 Swallow Street, W1, 020 7734 4756. bentleysoysterbarandgrill.co.uk 5 Butler’s Restaurant Butler’s is home of ‘the best Dover Sole in London’. This warm and intimate restaurant offers elegant dining,
delicious food and impeccable service. Located in the heart of London’s most exclusive district, Mayfair, near the Royal Academy, it is as popular with local residents as it is with hotel guests. It offers British cuisine tempered with international touches by chef Ben Kelliher, including a pre-theatre menu and traditional afternoon tea served daily. The Chesterfield, Mayfair 35 Charles Street W1, 020 7491 2622 chesterfieldmayfair.com 6 The fox club The Fox Club is situated a stone’s throw from Green Park and the famous Hyde Park. Our Dining Room is one of London’s best kept secrets and for those in the know, a lunchtime essential. The modern European menu changes on a weekly basis offering refined excellence without being pretentious. The effect is a change from the jaded palate of life. To avoid disappointment it is best to make a reservation. 46 Clarges Street W1, 020 7495 3656. foxclublondon.com 7 Franco’s Franco’s has been serving the community and visitors to St James’s from early morning to late at night, for over 60 years. Situated at the St James’s end of Jermyn Street, Franco’s is surrounded by the many lifestyle boutiques, private clubs, art galleries and hotels of the area. Open all day, the personality of the restaurant evolves from a quietly and gently efficient breakfast venue to a sharp and charged lunch atmosphere, to elegance and romance in the evening. The lunch and dinner menus highlight carefully prepared traditional and more modern Italian dishes, and the relaxed and friendly service ensures there is always somebody to greet you with a smile. 61 Jermyn Street, SW1, 020 7499 2211. francoslondon.com 8 Getti A modern Italian restaurant at the fast-paced heart of London’s West End, Getti Jermyn Street is an authentic Italian dining venue in London’s historic tailoring district, dedicated to offering a traditional and memorable Italian dining experience. A splendid destination for London locals and tourists alike, Getti
6 10 11 13 4 8
7 15 9
Jermyn Street focuses on serving simple, regional dishes from mainland Italy. Private dining available. Getti Jermyn Street, 16/17 Jermyn Street, SW1, 020 7734 7334. getti.com 9 GREEN’s Established in 1982 by Simon Parker Bowles, who still presides over this iconic establishment. Green’s offer the finest ingredients with straightforward, unfussy but beautiful cooking. First-class service, discreet ambience. A first-class and varied wine list. There are also two private rooms. Open six days a week (not Sundays). Lunch (11.30am –3pm) and dinner (5.30pm–11pm). 36 Duke Street St James, SW1, 020 7930 4566. greens.org.uk 10 THE GREENHOUSE The Greenhouse, nestled in a secluded garden in the heart of Mayfair, offers Michelin starred contemporary French cuisine. Executive chef Antonin Bonnet has created a 3-course setlunch menu, showcasing the finest seasonal ingredients, accompanied by one of the largest wine lists in Europe. Special offer: 3-course set lunch and Bellini, £25. Quote London Library when booking. Open for lunch noon–2.30pm Mon–Fri; dinner 6.45pm–11pm Mon–Sat. 27a Hay’s Mews, W1, 020 7499 3331. greenhouserestaurant.co.uk 11 THE GRILL AT THE DORCHESTER Brian Hughson, Head Chef at The Grill, is passionate about using quality produce sourced from the British Isles. In addition to the British and classic grill dishes offered at The Grill, Brian has reinstated classics from the original Grill menu such as ‘Dish of the Day’, and the traditional roast-beef carving trolley introduced at The Grill when it first opened in 1931. The Dorchester, Park Lane, W1, 020 7629 8888. thedorchester.com 12 hix at the ALBEMARLE Situated close to The London Library, this fashionable restaurant offers an outstanding menu of classic
British dishes, using local seasonal ingredients. Mark Hix and Marcus Verberne offer a full à la carte menu alongside a special set lunch, pre-theatre and dinner menu of £25 for 2 courses and £30 for 3 courses. HIX at The Albemarle is also home to an amazing collection of British art including pieces by Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley. Brown’s is also home to the award-winning English Tea Room and the chic Donovan Bar. Brown’s Hotel, Albemarle Street, W1, 020 7518 4004. roccofortecollection.com 13 THE PROMENADE AT THE DORCHESTER Very much the heart of the hotel, The Promenade is open all day for informal dining, serving breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and a light supper menu. A perfect place to watch the world go by and enjoy The Dorchester’s worldfamous traditional afternoon tea. The Dorchester, Park Lane, W1, 020 7629 8888. thedorchester.com 14 UMU Dining at Umu is an exquisite experience where the finest Japanese cuisine is served in an elegant and refined environment. Within five months of opening Umu was awarded its first Michelin star. Chef Yoshinori Ishii has created a menu featuring a variety of Japanese cuisine and kaiseki, a traditional tasting menu comprising artfully crafted dishes influenced by Zen Buddhism. Open for lunch noon–2.30pm Mon–Fri; dinner 6–11pm Mon–Sat. 14–16 Bruton Place, W1, 020 7499 8881. umurestaurant.com 15 Wiltons Established in 1742, Wiltons enjoys a reputation as the epitome of fine English dining in London. The atmosphere is perfectly matched with immaculately prepared fish, shellfish, game and meat. Choose from an exclusive wine list. Open for lunch and dinner, Mon–Fri. To make a reservation, please quote the London Library Magazine. 55 Jermyn Street, SW1, 020 7629 9955. wiltons.co.uk THE LONDON LIBRARY MAGAZINE 31