The Art of Self-Defeat

Noël Annan

  • Faces of Philip: A Memoir of Philip Toynbee by Jessica Mitford
    Heinemann, 175 pp, £9.95, July 1984, ISBN 0 434 46802 9

Although I was Philip Toynbee’s exact contemporary, I did not know him all that well: but I was always struck by the quite exceptional devotion of those who did. They found him lovable; and when he and Ben Nicolson founded a luncheon club they flocked to it. He was affectionate and generous, marvellously funny but convinced that the world in which he lived was insufferable and that he must do what he could to save it. One or two of his close friends may have wondered whether a memoir should be written; and then put the idea from their minds, remembering those touching and boring notices in the Times which read: ‘NM writes: Colonel Jocelyn Lethbridge – always known to his friends as “Stubby” – will be long remembered and sadly missed not only by them but by the regiment and at the club. Always one for a joke, Stubby combined unswerving loyalty with a lovable talent for organising others, etc, etc.’

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