Angela and Son

Dan Jacobson

  • Inside Outsider: The Life and Times of Colin MacInnes by Tony Gould
    Chatto, 261 pp, £12.50, September 1983, ISBN 0 7011 2678 7

The most interesting parts of the lives of writers often enough take place before they become writers. In Colin MacInnes’s case, one might say that some of the most interesting parts of his life took place before he was born. He was the great-grandchild of the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Burne-Jones, and was thus connected with both the Kipling and the Baldwin families; he was the grandson of an Oxford Professor of Poetry (of no great distinction, it must be admitted); and the son of Angela Thirkell, the novelist of upper-class English life, and James Campbell McInnes, a man of working-class origins who became the foremost British lieder-singer of his generation. Unfortunately for this marriage of the muses and the classes, Campbell McInnes was also drunken, violent, and (though he succeeded in fathering three children by Angela Thirkell, and then in raping the children’s nursemaid) inveterately homosexual.

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[*] Allison and Busby have reprinted City of Spades (248 pp., £2.95, 0 85031 332 5), Absolute Beginners (203 pp., £2.95, 0 85031 330 9) and Mr Love and Justice (176 pp., £2.95, 0 85031 334 1). In September they will publish Absolute MacInnes, edited by Tony Gould.