After High Tea

John Bayley

  • Love in a Cool Climate: The Letters of Mark Pattison and Meta Bradley 1879-1884 by Vivian Green
    Oxford, 269 pp, £12.95, November 1985, ISBN 0 19 820080 3

The title sounds like a novel, and the book can and should be read like one – a very remarkable one. Philip Larkin, who had the knack of making sideways critical comments as memorable as those in his verse, remarked that ‘the first thing a novelist must provide is a separate world,’ and it is true that the world Dr Green has made out of the relationship of Mark Pattison and Meta Bradley is not exactly a separate world. It is a familiar one, familiar from memoirs and gossip and our general contemporary interest in the Victorian age, but Green has managed – perhaps quite inadvertently – to see it all from a slightly different angle.

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