ISBN is

978-0-7126-6578-0 / 9780712665780

Lord Berners: The Last Eccentric (Pimlico)

by

Publisher:Random House UK

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

An author who invented a character like Berners for a novel would be accused of exaggeration. Reading this elegant biography of him gives the impression of a figure from a Margery Allingham novel or one of Evelyn Waugh's odder comedies--a shy, diminutive English Lord, a composer of Stravinsky influenced atonal music and a writer of novels and poems ("On the pale yellow sands / There's a pair of clasped hands / And an Eyeball tangled with string / Sing Fifty / Sing Forty" and so on). He was also friends with an impressive circle of artists, including Picasso and Dali and was no mean artist himself. But he put his real genius into his eccentricity, installing a clavichord in his car to facilitate composing, building a folly on his estate (the last constructed in England) and happily entertaining horses as well as people for tea. He also dyed his pigeons strange colours, hung Woolworth pearl necklaces around the necks of his dogs and ate a special recipe of blue mayonnaise.

Mark Armory's biographical skill is in his sensitivity. His Berners is no mere caricature, but rather a complex man whose eccentricity was a response to depression. He had a lifelong terror of being bored and of boring others, because boredom was so close to despair. Amory's book never offends on that score. --Adam Roberts

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