Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia

No writer, not even Hemingway or Rimbaud, led as bizarre and eventful a life as the once celebrated Soho dandy Julian Maclaren-Ross (1912-64). Next to him, the conventional icons of London bohemia, among them Francis Bacon and Jeffrey Bernard, appear models of stability and self-restraint. Besides providing a detailed account of his extraordinary escapades, Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia offers aportrait of the bohemian pub and club scene within which Maclaren-Ross was such a conspicuous figure. In the course of fifty-two hectic years, he endured homelessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and near-insanity, culminating in an erotic fixation on George Orwell's glamorous widow, whom he plotted to murder. At one stage he was even the target of a Scotland Yard man-hunt.

All this took place against a variety of colourful backdrops, encompassing not just Soho but also the raffish cafe society thatflourished on the French Riviera during the 1920s. Fascinated by Maclaren-Ross's turbulent life, numerous other prominent novelists modelled characters on him, among them Graham Greene, Anthony Powell and Olivia Manning. Despite everything, Maclaren-Ross produced influential, sporadically brilliant work, revered by the likes of Evelyn Waugh and John Betjeman, the latter declaring him a genius. His many high-profile admirers include Melvyn Bragg, Iain Sinclair, Lucian Freud, D.J. Taylor, Sarah Waters, Jonathan Meades and Harold Pinter.

Since its publication in 2003, Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia has never been out of print. It has also triggered a well-deserved revival of interest in Maclaren-Ross's life and work. 

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