The Fred Step

Anna Swan

  • Secret Muses: The Life of Frederick Ashton by Julie Kavanagh
    Faber, 675 pp, £12.99, October 1997, ISBN 0 571 19062 6

Frederick Ashton was an avid gossip, while also dreading the idea that his life – and his homosexuality – might become matters of prurient interest. He claimed to have destroyed all his personal letters, but Julie Kavanagh found he had kept almost every one. Ashton and Kavanagh, who trained with the Royal Ballet and is now London editor of the New Yorker, became close friends towards the end of his life. After his death, as his authorised biographer, she had access to The Box containing the letters, along with copious memorabilia and notebooks on his ballets. Despite his fears, he had prepared the ground well.

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