Anthony Powell

Anthony Powell article introduces a reissue of Jocelyn Brooke’s The Orchard Trilogy which is due from Secker in May.

Extraordinary People

Anthony Powell, 4 June 1981

When housekeeping was still difficult after the second war we used to lunch quite often at the Chester Arms, which stood nearly opposite where we lived in Regent’s Park. The pub was run by a delightful family, a handsome widow and her two pretty daughters. We once took an American to luncheon there. Could he have been an American officer? I can’t remember. When I remarked that it was lucky to find such nice people in the local, he replied: ‘I’ve often heard that said over here. I don’t understand it. In the US we go where it suits, and don’t bother about the people.’ Possibly because the staff was prepossessing, but also because the place was comparatively remote from more frequented scenes, an occasional acquaintance would choose the Chester for lunching someone not his wife. One would look the other way, or give a myopic nod before returning to rationing or bomb damage. Among those who appeared there from time to time with a guest evidently not his wife was Rupert Hart-Davis. He was unique among those couples, with their faintly clandestine air, in boldly underlining his presence within the pub by parking outside the entrance a publisher’s van on the side of which was inscribed in large letters: RUPERT HART-DAVIS.

Brooke’s Benefit

Anthony Powell, 16 April 1981

In 1949, a moment when I was editing the novel pages of the Times Literary Supplement, a book came in called A Mine of Serpents, author Jocelyn Brooke. The name was familiar on account of a previous work, The Military Orchid, which had appeared the year before, and received unusually approving notices. I had not read The Military Orchid, partly because there was a good deal to do reviewing other books, partly because (being in that respect like Wyndham Lewis’s Tarr, for whom ‘the spring was anonymous’) I thought a work much concerned with botany sounded off my beat.

Six Scotches More: Anthony Powell

Michael Wood, 8 February 2001

Reviewers are always sternly instructed to check page proofs against finished copies of books, and I do, I will. But the proofs of Anthony Powell’s A Writer’s Notebook provide, along...

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John Lanchester, 5 June 1997

Most good novelists make life seem more interesting than it is. The very fact that their work offers a continuous aesthetic or psychic frisson is a kind of falsehood, a betrayal of reality; and...

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Being all right, and being wrong

Barbara Everett, 12 July 1990

Men of different generations and presumably social worlds, Anthony Powell and Craig Raine aren’t much alike as writers. But the novelist’s Miscellaneous Verdicts and the poet’s

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Villain’s Talk

John Bayley, 17 April 1986

How and why do some writers’ characters live from the word go? It may not be necessary that they should; it may not even be to the writer’s purpose and advantage. Shakespeare’s...

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Chances are

Michael Wood, 7 July 1983

‘What a chapter of chances,’ Tristram Shandy’s father says, ‘what a long chapter of chances do the events of this world lay open to us!’ The thought is echoed in the...

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Paul Delany, 5 May 1983

The action of A Dance to the Music of Time comes to the reader by courtesy of Nick Jenkins, that non-participant observer whose presence never seems to make any impact on the endless round of...

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Standing at ease

Robert Taubman, 1 May 1980

At the beginning of this volume Anthony Powell marries into the Pakenham family, which has some resemblance, he discloses, to the Tollands in his sequence of novels A Dance to the Music of Time....

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