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... I sometimes​ argue with my friend Heathcote Williams about his use of pornography as a means of attacking his political enemies. It seems to me an irrelevant weapon in any context, and in the hands of a man with Heathcote’s anarchistic, optimistic, nearly utopian convictions it becomes puzzlingly inconsistent. His polemical essays have been appearing, often unsigned, in the underground press over the past decade, and a selection, entitled Severe Joy, is listed for publication next year by John Calder ...
... achieving a modest celebrity as the faithful friend whom he had called ‘the Sphinx’. (When Wyndham Lewis put her in The Apes of God as ‘the Sib’ she was the only target of his satirical malice to be clearly delighted, and even flattered, by the attention.) The last version of The Triflers was written in the 1920s as a possible ‘come-back’ for ...
... Fox, who had the French edition of White Mischief, which I come into. He’d put originally that Francis Wyndham, one of the senior editors, wanted Cyril Connolly to write something, and I immediately looked myself up and it said: ‘Francis Wyndham, un des rédacteurs les plus âgés’, as if I was one of the ...


Francis Wyndham: At the Theatre, 10 November 1988

... At a friend’s house, I saw a video of Liebelei, Max Ophuls’s beautiful film of Arthur Schnitzler’s play which was shown on television some months ago. Made in 1932, this masterpiece is a rarity: although the Third Reich censors removed Ophuls’s name from the credits and he left Germany on the day after the Reichstag fire, it was banned by the Allied Commission when the war was over because its success had happened to coincide with the Nazi regime ...

Eating Alone

Francis Wyndham, 17 May 1984

... Sometimes, when I am alone in the evenings and feel like giving myself a treat, I go to a little restaurant round the corner called the Star of Bombay. An old newspaper cutting is displayed in its window containing a guarded recommendation by Fay Maschler, but in spite of this the place is nearly always empty. Occasionally a transient figure may appear, swiftly and rather furtively, to carry off a take-away ordered earlier by telephone ...

The Half Brother

Francis Wyndham, 16 July 1981

... Jack ‘did a Jack’ and missed our father’s funeral. He had taken his new girl to the Gargoyle Club the night before and had woken with such a monumental hangover that the train had left Paddington before he was out of bed. Explaining this to my mother on the telephone later in the day, he had boasted not only about the hangover but also about the new girl, who was just seventeen and had a marvellous figure – almost like a boy’s ...

The Ground Hostess

Francis Wyndham, 1 April 1983

... The telephone rang. It had to be Hurricane Harriet. ‘Hi,’ she said. ‘Hi. Listen, I can’t talk now – ’ ‘You sound funny. Is something the matter? Look, why don’t I come over right – ’ ‘No,’ I said in a panic, and I hung up on her. The telephone rang again at once. This time it was Jeremy – who else? ‘Hi,’ he said. ‘Hi ...

All I can do

Carole Angier, 21 June 1984

Jean Rhys: Letters 1931-1966 
edited by Francis Wyndham and Diana Melly.
Deutsch, 336 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 223 97567 2
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... that I hate everything I write when it’s finished, and cannot bear to touch it,’ she wrote to Francis Wyndham. ‘The real book will escape. As always.’ The second half of this book is a treasure trove of information about Wide Sargasso Sea: a revelation to lovers of the novel, essential to its students, fascinating to anyone interested in what ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... I first met Francis Wyndham in 1968, when I went to the Sunday Times Magazine looking for a job. A thunderstorm in the Gray’s Inn Road had soaked my cheap lightweight blue suit, bought in Johannesburg, and I was thinking my appearance had cost me my chance. At that time everyone – writers and photographers – seemed to want to write for the Magazine, then under the editorship of Godfrey Smith ...

On David King

Susannah Clapp, 21 June 2018

... already measured up for size: no question, ever, of anything being cropped. One was of the writer Francis Wyndham, then in his sixties, in conversation with a 34-year-old Alan Hollinghurst. It was an extraordinary portrait, the two absolutely at ease but sitting at an angle to each other and looking quizzical. Hollinghurst, clean-shaven and gentle. ...

Kay Demarest’s War

Penelope Fitzgerald, 17 September 1987

The Other Garden 
by Francis Wyndham.
Cape, 106 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 224 02475 2
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The Engine of Owl-Light 
by Sebastian Barry.
Carcanet, 390 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 85635 704 9
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A Singular Attraction 
by Ita Daly.
Cape, 144 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02438 8
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Cold Spring Harbor 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 182 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 413 14420 8
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The Changeling 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 223 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 340 40542 2
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... In The Other Garden Francis Wyndham manages a classic form, the first-person novella, with great delicacy and originality. His first person, as in his collection of short stories Mrs Henderson, is a gentle, helpful, observant boy growing up during the Second World War, a boy who is eventually bewildered by what human beings do to each other ...

Complaining about reviews

John Bayley, 23 May 1985

Mrs Henderson, and Other Stories 
by Francis Wyndham.
Cape, 160 pp., £8.50, April 1985, 0 224 02306 3
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... type. Humour needs a certain detachment, not to say tranquillity. This is what it receives in Francis Wyndham’s stories. In the last one in the book, ‘The Ground Hostess’, in some ways the most entertaining of a highly original and distinguished collection, a female novelist rings up the narrator to complain about her latest reviews. Her ...

The Best Barnet

Jeremy Harding, 20 February 1997

With Chatwin: Portrait of a Writer 
by Susannah Clapp.
Cape, 246 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 224 03258 5
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... under a mulberry tree in the south of France, having his hair combed by his wife. The ravenous Francis Wyndham and James Fox spoon up a pitifully notional soufflé made from wild strawberries which they have picked ‘all day’ at Chatwin’s insistence and which he has finicked down to an airy nothing. His host in Shropshire, Martin ...


Julian Symons, 21 February 1991

By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept 
by Elizabeth Smart.
Paladin, 112 pp., £3.99, January 1991, 0 586 09039 8
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The Assumption of the Rogues and Rascals 
by Elizabeth Smart.
Paladin, 112 pp., £3.99, January 1991, 0 586 09040 1
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Necessary Secrets: The Journals of Elizabeth Smart 
edited by Alice Van Wart.
Grafton, 305 pp., £14.99, January 1991, 0 246 13653 7
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... virtue, making reading the book like saying ‘a tragic, pagan, exotic rosary’. Another admirer, Francis Wyndham, stayed non-committal about the subject-matter: ‘The narrator is a young girl in love with a married man. That is the “story”.’ Wyndham proved not to be cautious enough. From the Journals now ...

The Lady Vanishes

Zoë Heller, 20 July 1995

The Last of the Duchess 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £16.99, April 1995, 0 333 63062 9
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... of the Prince of Wales’s desire to be a tampon. In 1980, Caroline Blackwood was approached by Francis Wyndham, one of the editors of the Sunday Times magazine, to accompany Lord Snowden on a trip to photograph the 84-year-old Duchess of Windsor, now an invalid recluse, holed up in a house in Paris. Snowden would take pictures and Blackwood would ...

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