On the Trapeze would be a stimulating picture to have hanging on the wall and in fact if we were the curator of a small museum we would be seriously tempted: the estimate is £8-£12,000. This too haas been in a private collection in America until now. ‘Following an introduction by her friend Alfred Munnings to the famous circus impresario Bertram Mills, Knight was given access to all backstage areas of the circus and became as much a member of the troupe as the performers’ (Catalogue).


There are a dozen other Laura Knight paintings in the Sotheby’s December 13th sale, all rather wonderful. Tell Your Fortune, Lady? is undated and its provenance was unknown until it was first sold in Chicago in 1996. She ‘painted more than sixty pictures of the Gypsy women who told fortunes and sold handicrafts at the race meetings at Epsom and Ascot, from a makeshift studio in the back of a rented Rolls-Royce. The present picture depicts a scene behind a beer-tent at the races with one of the clairvoyants and her infant’ (Catalogue here).


Laura Knight has always been a favourite on the Post, although regular readers will know that in some ways we prefer the work of her husband Harold Knight. But she was undeniably a great painter (and he may be a more minor one, in the scheme of things) and next month (on December 13th) Sotheby’s are selling some of her work. It is glorious. This is Motley, Preparing for Her Entrance 1928 (estimate £100,000-£150,000) which has been owned by the Hoover family in America ever since they first acquired it. The  Sotheby’s catalogue note says: ‘Motley was painted in Knight’s studio at 1 Queens Road, St John’s Wood, which she transformed into a dressing room for the circus-stars who had finished their season at Olympia in Kensington but stayed in London to pose for the picture. An Irishwoman called Nan Kearns, who was posing as the dresser and would later become a film actress, fed everyone with food from the Cookery School on the Finchley Road. The studio was crowded and alive with chatter as Knight worked. In the chapter titled “Motley” in her autobiography Knight described this time  “I  tried to dissociate myself from the gaiety, but it was overwhelming. The young people were having the time of their lives, and Nan in her Irish way drove her load of fun over us all like a car or juggernaut” (Laura Knight Oil Paint and Grease Paint 1936 p.316).’ More details at the Sotheby’s site here.


And our newest World War One author, Rose Allatini. It was thrilling and touching that Despised and Rejected was part of the plot line on BBC Radio 4’s Home Front, culminating in a glorious scene when a copy of the book (which had by then been banned) is returned to the library disguised as a volume of Shakespeare’s sonnets, the librarian finds it and Kitty has to think on her feet as to why the copy is dedicated ‘to Daniel with love from Victor’. Despised and Rejected is such an unusual and unforgettable novel and we are deeply proud to have published it.


Rosalind Murray wrote The Happy Tree after the war (it came out in 1926) but it is about the war, and in the same league as books like Dusty Answer and Testament to Youth, written at the same time, which are also about the effect of the war on a generation of young men and women. As ever, it was superbly written about in the Persephone Forum here; and the reviews on Good Reads give an excellent overview of its superb qualities – for anyone wondering whether or not to read The Happy Tree, you should.


R C ‘Bob’ Sherriff, author of The Hopkins Manuscript, The Fortnight in September and Greengates during the First World War. Famously, he wrote about his wartime experiences in Journey’s End, which has been filmed several times: the recent film (trailer here) is highly recommended.


E M Delafield, author of Consequences and Diary of a Provincial Lady, was a nurse in World War One and wrote a novel about her experiences called The War Workers, which is available as a free audiobook here.


Yesterday, Armistice Day, a group from Persephone Books were part of the People’s Procession, honouring not an ancestor but Persephone’s First World War writers. So this week on the Post we celebrate them. First of all, the author of Persephone Book No. 1, William – an Englishman, one of the most outstanding novels every written about WW1. Here is Cicely Hamilton (seated) at the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont. And here is some extraordinary black and white silent film about the hospital: it brings everything so vividly to life, particularly the women slipping over in the snow, and during the scene of extracting shrapnel, one might as well be there.


The National Gallery exhibition ends with The Card Players by Cezanne ‘which has become over the last couple of decades one of the world’s most admired paintings, a work in which you can see the history of 20th century art, in the form of the cubism and other developments it inspired, being written before your eyes’ (Telegraph).


‘Courtauld lived in Home House in Portman Square, a spectacular Robert Adam building (now a private club). Period photographs show Gauguin’s The Haystacks, with its wildly elevated viewpoint and radical pattern of trees, hats and cattle, hanging below a stately chandelier in the 18th-century salon.’

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