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Tony, Ray and the Duchess

Alan Bell, 21 May 1981

A Lonely Business: A Self-Portrait of James Pope-Hennessy 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 297 77918 4
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... out all too clearly the unevenness of his character and achievement. It is tactfully introduced by Peter Quennell, a friend described by Pope-Hennessy elsewhere in the volume as ‘amiable as always, but fundamentally antipathetic’. Mr Quennell does not disguise the less agreeable side of his friend’s life, but ...
The Nabokov-Wilson Letters, 1940-1971 
edited by Simon Karlinsky.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £12.50, October 1979, 0 297 77580 4
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Vladimir Nabokov: A Tribute 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 139 pp., £6.95
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... in 1886, and has been in the Everyman Library for half a century. The collection edited by Peter Quennell has some attractive photographs and two good essays, by John Bayley and Martin Amis. For the rest, there is a lot of laborious exegesis, which might have amused the recipient of the tribute, and a thought-provoking piece by Alfred Appel ...

When the Mediterranean Was Blue

John Bayley, 23 March 1995

Cyril Connolly: A Nostalgic Life 
by Clive Fisher.
Macmillan, 304 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 333 57813 9
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... point for the regrets and frustrations of his literary generation. He was a mixture of Pan and Peter Pan. Clive Fisher, who has written a very good book on Noel Coward, was quite right to give this elegant study the subtitle ‘A Nostalgic Life’. Being Anglo-Irish helped the nostalgia. Connolly senior had been a Major in the British Army and when he ...

Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’, 9 December 2019

Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... to Ian)? Was Barbara Skelton having an affair with the Polish war artist Feliks Topolski when Peter Quennell came onto the scene, still married to his third wife, Glur, but making Topolski so jealous that the men resorted to fisticuffs over Barbara? What made Janetta, still married to Hugh Slater, fall in love with Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, and would ...

Astrid, Clio and Julia

Alan Bell, 17 July 1980

The Wanton Chase 
by Peter Quennell.
Collins, 192 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 00 216526 0
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... a Japanese literary professorship and a spell at the copywriting desk of an advertising agency. Mr Quennell fitted easily, marital tensions notwithstanding, into the London literary scene which he has long adorned. The second volume of his memoirs opens in 1939, with the author, not uncharacteristically, on a French holiday with a girlfriend and Cyril ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly turned out to be Connolly not producing the masterpieces ...

Quarrelling

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 29 October 1987

Tears before Bedtime 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12326 7
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In the Pink 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Bloomsbury, 164 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7475 0050 9
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... marriage to go, people were telling each other that they had already separated. Her former lover, Peter Quennell, eager for bad news, invited her to lunch at the Etoile and asked about her sex life. But that day she didn’t feel like doing Connolly down, so Quennell soon got bored and asked for the bill. While Cyril ...

Half-Way up the Hill

Frank Kermode, 7 July 1988

Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... John Sparrow, Henry Yorke, Alan Pryce-Jones, Osbert Lancaster, Robert Byron, Anthony Powell, Peter Quennell, Tom Driberg, Harold Acton, Christopher Sykes, Randolph Churchill, W.H. Auden, and lots of others, including Gaitskell once more (‘Hugh, may I stroke your bottom?’ ‘Oh, I suppose so, if you must’). With Auden he went to ...

Seriously ugly

Gabriele Annan, 11 January 1990

Weep no more 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 166 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 241 12200 7
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... have to be particularly hideous. It is impossible to give a full list, but among those chosen were Peter Quennell, Feliks Topolski, Alan Ross, Kenneth Tynan and Charles Addams, as well as a lot of extras with names like Old B., the Bastard and Chuff. She did not waste her time with intellectuals, but absorbed their appreciation of art and literature. She ...

Salons

William Thomas, 16 October 1980

Holland House 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Duckworth, 320 pp., £18, May 1980, 9780715611166
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Genius in the Drawing-Room 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780297777700
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... must be to recapture the character of talk before the 20th century. Most of the contributors to Mr Quennell’s volume grope around the problem and then turn to something else more tangible. Hilde Spiel writes on Rahel von Varnhagen and Fanny von Arnstein, but she slips into the problem of their Jewishness rather than what was said at their salons. Lady ...

Glooms

E.S. Turner, 23 February 1995

Edward Lear: A Biography 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 362 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 58804 5
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... a dodgy stockbroker? Yes, it was the man in the runcible hat, Edward Lear. His latest biographer, Peter Levi, confides to us that, like Lear’s mother, his own grandmother also had 21 children. Easily lured into digression, Levi adds that ‘it is not uncommon in such families that by some mysterious compensation of nature a number of the children or ...

Make mine a Worcester Sauce

John Bayley, 23 June 1994

Richard Hughes 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Deutsch, 491 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 233 98843 2
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... Four possible candidates, varying in attainments, would be T.E. Lawrence, Robert Graves, Peter Fleming (perhaps both Flemings) and Richard Hughes. It makes no difference that Lawrence was half-Irish, the Flemings mostly Scottish, and Hughes partly Welsh. The presidential or father figure of the group would be John Buchan, another Scot, whose innings ...

Bouvard and Pécuchet

C.H. Sisson, 6 December 1984

The Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters: Correspondence of George Lyttelton and Rupert Hart-Davis. 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 193 pp., £13.50, April 1984, 0 7195 4108 5
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... hate to publish sloppy writing if it can be improved,’ he says, brooding on a TS of Peter Fleming’s. His editor’s fingers itch, a symptom both creditable and, in certain circumstances, dangerous. His own laborious edition of Oscar Wilde’s letters reaches its final or perhaps one should say penultimate stage in Volume VI; the references to ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... a slasher – though there is a very severe notice of the autobiographies of Anthony Powell and Peter Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such ...

Every Rusty Hint

Ian Sansom: Anthony Powell, 21 October 2004

Anthony Powell: A Life 
by Michael Barber.
Duckworth, 338 pp., £20, July 2004, 0 7156 3049 0
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... of Oscar Wilde’, the model for the flamboyant Mr Deacon? Probably. Is there a touch of Peter Quennell in the floppy-haired Mark Members? Is J.G. Quiggin really Cyril Connolly? And is Moreland Constant Lambert? Is Dr Trelawney ‘a projection’ of Aleister Crowley? Was Adrian Daintrey Zouch? Is Bagshaw Malcolm Muggeridge? Was Julian ...

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