Bolsheviks and Bohemians

Angus Calder

  • The Life of Arthur Ransome by Hugh Brogan
    Cape, 456 pp, £10.95, January 1984, ISBN 0 224 02010 2
  • Bohemia in London by Arthur Ransome, introduced by Rupert Hart-Davis
    Oxford, 284 pp, £3.50, January 1984, ISBN 0 19 281412 5

In the middle of the first decade of this century, there were, of course, rumours of wars, and Russia had just been convulsed by revolution. Though German lager was a well-loved tipple in London nightspots, Britons were bound to wonder if Germany wasn’t winning the worldwide battle for markets and whether conflict with her could be avoided: meanwhile, the British Empire seemed at its zenith and Kipling and Newbolt were the most flourishing poets of the day. After ‘much falling’, Lionel Johnson had made his legendary descent to death from a bar stool, and Yeats’s other companions were no longer to be found in the Cheshire Cheese. The ‘Nineties’ were well over; Ezra Pound had not yet arrived in London, but a protean new movement, which would later be called ‘Georgianism’, was spawning in the Edwardian metropolis, where a great newspaper and periodical press, in its heyday before broadcasting and movies, made it possible for aspirants to literary fame to hack their way to a modest living.

You are not logged in