Julian Maclaren-Ross, Collected Memoirs

With an introduction by Paul Willetts

In his camel-hair coat and immaculate suit, with carnation buttonhole, silver-topped malaca cane, cigarette holder and mirrored sunglasses, Maclaren-Ross cut a dandified figure in the Soho, Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury of the forties, fifties and sixties. A gifted raconteur, he knew and writes here about some of the notable figures of the period, among them Dylan Thomas, Graham Greene, Cyril Connolly, Stephen Spender and John Minton. His life, often chaotic – and related unsentimentally in these memoirs—veered between the fringes of the literary establishment and homelessness.

He was much admired by writers as diverse as Evelyn Waugh and John Betjeman, and his colourful personality made him the model for fictional characters, most famously X. Trapnel in Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time, but also in the stories of Graham Greene and Olivia Manning. More recent admirers include Harold Pinter, Lucien Freud, Iain Sinclair, Cathi Unsworth, John King, Max Décharné, Virginia Ironside, Jonathan Meades, Melvin Bragg, Keiron Pim and D.J. Taylor. 

Not only is this the first time such a range of memoirs has been available in a single volume, it is the first time some of these memoirs have appeared in book form at all, and Paul Willetts’s introduction offers a comprehensive account of the context in which they were written.

Praise for this book

“Those who have yet to discover this wonderfully stylish and sardonic writer should start here.”—Peter Parker, The Daily Telegraph

“Bringing so many of [these memoirs] together in one volume offers a substantial account of his great talent…”The Independent on Sunday

“The Collected Memoirs are dazzling – the work of a prolific writer of great wit, erudition and insight.”The Observer

“He wrote with an economy and a formal elegance that marvellously suited his detached attitude to whatever in his surroundings seemed odd, ridiculous or wild; down it all went in curt graphic dialogue and deadpan description. There is nothing else that more conveys the atmosphere of bohemian and fringe-literary London under the impact of war and its immediate hangover. The book [Memoirs of the Forties, which forms part of the Collected Memoirs,] is comic, nostalgic and at times even.”—V.S. Pritchett

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