27 November 2014

It’s very sobering for anyone who is a mother-in-law to think that Dylan Thomas’s didn’t rate his work and therefore was about to destroy his notebook when it was saved from the dustbin. Here is a page from the notebook and below it is the note from the maid who had the wit not to consign it to the bin.

 Hatchards chose Mariana and Miss Pettigrew as ‘a a few of their favourite things’:

The TLS ran an article about Arnold Toynbee, to whom Rosalind Murray

was married at the time she was writing The Happy Tree. The article is accessible free at the TLS here, which observes that, having dropped completely out of fashion as a historian (he was once ‘one of the most famous people in the world, his reputation akin, perhaps to that of HG Wells in the 1920s and 30s) Toynbee is now being rediscovered because he ‘was the greatest student of civilisations, certainly in the twentieth century, perhaps ever’.

Do go and see Accolade at the St James Theatre in Victoria. It is superb, wonderfully written up by Rachel Cooke (she is especially good on  its ‘impeccable timing, its concerns with media frenzies and the nature of reputation’); Accolade has the same depth of moral insight, compassion and insight into human frailty as in every Dorothy Whipple novel. As the programme note says: ‘the play proved to be one of the most moving and provocative of the 1950s, having surprisingly been approved by the censor (the Lord Chamberlain) who did not require the deletion of a single word.’ And yet the play still has huge resonance today. As the Evening Standard said: it ‘has a real sharpness as it exposes the hypocrisy of the Fifties and the fragility of reputations. It doesn’t feel as risqué as it must have done 64 years ago — but speaks with impressive directness and insight.’ Also most of us in the office can’t stop thinking about Mr Turner. There is a good short video about the making of the film on the Tate site

Still on the importance of a moral compass in literature and film, it was good to see the Financial Times’s Antonia Quike saying about The Imitation Game that ‘the absolute duty to truth in relation to a subject like Turing (whose lonely death at 41 after chemical castration covers us in shame) is one of those rare things far greater than the duty to art.’It’s a shame that the moral focus of the film has become muddled up with Keira Knightley’s pullovers.

It’s the same issue as the horrific Sainsbury’s ad set in the trenches, which was fascinatingly discussed on the Moral Maze (‘the moral limits of advertising’). But plenty of people are treating the First World War with huge tact and respect, for example the Surrey local history archive which has a very good blog and other things about R C Sherriff (they have his archive).

There is an exhibition at the Artworkers Guild this week of the work of Dorothy Coke. This is one of her paintings which was sold a few years ago at auction and is on a wall in the UK. It’s called ‘The Garden Party’ and it’s 1929.


In December Sotheby’s are going to sell a famous Winnie the Pooh illustration and it may fetch £100,000.

But of course Persephone readers can have a postcard of the EH Shepard original cover illustration that accompanies every copy of Greenery Street - for free with the  book and it’s in colour!


A reader in Stockbridge. Mass very kindly wrote to the Los Angeles Times about us here   (scroll down).  Caroline Raphael, who has been a  commissioning editor at Radio 4 for 31 years but is alas leaving the BBC for pastures new, chose The Exiles Return as her book of the year. This is what she writes: ‘Elisabeth de Waal, whose own life was full of departures and arrivals, wrote this in the 1950s and it was published posthumously. She had assumed no one would ever read it but it was found by her grandson, Edmund de Waal. It’s set in Vienna, the city of her childhood, now liberated by the Allies but fractured, uneasy and suspicious. A series of separate narratives mingle with the story of Professor Adler, a Jew. He has abandoned his family in New York to return to the city he fled in 1938. He finds old friends wary, his old home wrecked, and a city he barely recognizes. Like the best period pieces, it’s full of contemporary resonance.’

Finally, here is Lady Florence Norman, the suffragette, setting off  on her motorised scooter in 1916.

Nicola Beauman

59 Lambs Conduit Street


59 Lamb's Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB