Finding comfort in the ministrations of spiritualists - including a "clairaudient" who mediated the dead through an "unhealed head centre" - she entered a world so far removed from reality that her friends could hardly bear to follow her. When one realises that Lehmann became convinced that Sally was in heaven teaching unborn baby birds to sing with St Francis of Assisi, one sees their problem.
Yet the section dealing with her bereavement makes the most intensely painful reading. Others were horrified and concerned, while some merely mocked. Mrs Philipps on the line again, Ma'am' just when one was gambolling in a green pasture" - which merely goes to show what a poisonous bitch Mitford really was. Indeed, although Lehmann's behaviour often sounds ghastly, her circle also fails to cover itself in glory. Hastings animates these and other scenarios vividly and with diligent even-handedness.
Only at the end of the book does she reveal her personal connection with Lehmann, and she is at pains to show how carefully she evaded her subject's attempts to have this biography completed in her lifetime. Hastings brings us far more of the private life than the professional one, sensing that here is the real story. Although her analyses of the novels are competent, they do little to explain Lehmann's peculiar position as a bestselling writer at odds with the prevailing literary climate.
Her last major work, The Echoing Grove, was published the year before Lucky Jim, but could hardly have been more different in sensibility and style. Despite a revival, via Virago, in the s, she is probably no longer widely read - a neglect that, as with writers such as Rose Macaulay and Sylvia Townsend Warner, is a greater pity for us than for them. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.
In that year he founded a publishing house, John Lehmann, Ltd. He also founded the London Magazine and edited it from to Lehmann is perhaps best remembered as the editor of New Writing, an English book-periodical that appeared under various titles about twice yearly between and ; it included work by writers considered too radical to be published elsewhere and came to be considered an important influence on 20th-century English literature. Lehmann also edited the paperback Penguin New Writing from to The Sitwells in Their Time She is noted for her delicately crafted studies of women, particularly of young girls.
Her first novel, Dusty Answer , concerning a deep emotional attachment between two college girls, was highly successful. Invitation to the Waltz describes the launching of a young girl into society; The Weather in the Streets treats the same girl 10 years later, after an abortion and a divorce. Fragments of an Inner Life Love in a literary climate.
Anne Chisholm reviews Rosamond Lehmann: A Life by Selina Hastings. Like it or not, the exploration by women writers of their emotional and sexual lives has been one of the most striking developments in 20th-century literature.
Rosamond Lehmann, whose life spanned almost the whole century was one of the first to take full advantage of this freedom, and the best of her novels Dusty Answer, Invitation to the Waltz, The Weather in the Streets made a real contribution to the genre. She was beautiful, gifted, well-connected, demanding, and unlucky in love; her books have always appealed greatly, though not exclusively, to women.
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In this finely textured, exceptionally perceptive and wonderfully readable biography, Selina Hastings disentangles the connections between Lehmann's life and her writing. What emerges is a story richer, funnier and more painful than any of her fiction. Although Lehmann was born into an affluent, well-educated family, she seems to have carried with her from childhood a pervasive sense of insecurity.
Although she would in later life ascribe the family's good looks and intelligence to their Jewish blood, she knew it was not an advantage in the aristocratic circles to which as a young woman she eagerly aspired. She adored her father, but for all her prettiness, and her efforts to please him with fairy stories and verses, she always felt that she was not his favourite child.
As Hastings ominously says, "she came first with nobody". By the time Rosamond Lehmann arrived at Cambridge in , she knew she was beautiful and that she wanted to write. Her first love ended in tears, when she took the casual advances of a rich, confident young man too seriously; this commonplace disappointment set a pattern for her fiction, as for her life.
She plunged rashly into marriage with an apparently suitable man, Leslie Runciman, from the wealthy shipping family. He panicked when she became pregnant and insisted on an abortion, after which he praised her for being once again "all clean and clear inside". It was hardly surprising that she soon fell in love with Wogan Philipps, another handsome, well-off, immature man; after prolonged dramas, as the Runciman and the Philipps families disapproved of divorce, they were married in By this time Lehmann's first novel, Dusty Answer, based on her Cambridge years, had been published to instant acclaim.
The young couple found a desirable Queen Anne house in Oxfordshire, had two children, and through their friend George Dadie Rylands were taken up by Lytton Strachey.
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Hastings is sharp-eyed about Bloomsbury's affectionate, slightly patronising attitude to "Ros and Wog"; here was another magic circle where Rosamond never quite felt she belonged. Romantic happiness, for Rosamond, was dangerously linked with her capacity to write.
As Hastings observes, "being in love was a vocation, just as important as - if not more important than - being a writer".
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When during the s Wogan Philipps's attention shifted towards painting, other women and eventually the Communist Party, it became imperative for her to find another great love. After a brief, intense affair with the attractive, famously unreliable Goronwy Rees, whose engagement to another woman she learned about from a newspaper, she fell upon the romantically ravaged-looking poet Cecil Day Lewis, despite the inconvenient fact that he was already married with two children. They set up house together in , with Lehmann determined to detach him permanently from his wife.
Around this point in the book the reader senses that the biographer's patience with her subject is under strain. In this book, as in Rosamond Lehmann's life, the huge universal drama of the Second World War has to take second place to the desperate emotional battle being waged over her tortured, indecisive lover.
When finally, in , Day Lewis solved his problem by taking up with the actress Jill Balcon, even those fondest of Lehmann found her prolonged rage and desperation hard to take. She never stopped looking for love, but her "voraciously demanding" nature became more and more obvious and alarming as her beauty faded. As Dadie Rylands once reflected, being the object of Rosamond Lehmann's attentions must have been "like being suffocated by a great eiderdown of rose petals".
In the tragedy of her daughter Sally's sudden death at the age of 24 threw Rosamond Lehmann into a strenuous effort to fill the emotional gap by communicating with the spirit world. Not even death was to be allowed to deny her the loving presence she needed. Here Hastings is at her best, never losing sight of the courage and pathos behind Lehmann's driven, occasionally comic search for comfort. It is only in her concluding pages that Hastings reveals the extent of her own connection with Rosamond Lehmann, whom she knew from childhood.
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By Susann Klossek Als Journalist kriegst du einen Arschtritt, wenn du richtig liegst und du kriegst einen Arschtritt, wenn du falsch liegst. Auch der Weg des Buchautors ist steinig. Wir sind eine Ansammlung von Schatten, vollkommen in ihrer Bedeutungslosigkeit.