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Bouvard and Pécuchet

C.H. Sisson, 6 December 1984

The Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters: Correspondence of George Lyttelton and Rupert Hart-Davis
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 193 pp., £13.50, April 1984, 0 7195 4108 5
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... We now have the sixth and final volume of the Lyttelton Hart-Davis Letters. George Lyttelton died on 1 May 1962, thus ending a correspondence which had begun in 1955; the first of the volumes edited by the survivor was published in 1978, the rest have appeared at intervals since. ‘For beginners’, as Rupert Hart-Davis puts it, mindful of those who have had to pick up the thread at some intermediate stage of the correspondence, the editor ‘had been taught by George at Eton, where he was an outstanding teacher and house-master ...

Extraordinary People

Anthony Powell, 4 June 1981

The Lyttelton – Hart-Davis Letters 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 185 pp., £12.50, March 1981, 0 7195 3770 3
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... damage. Among those who appeared there from time to time with a guest evidently not his wife was Rupert Hart-Davis. He was unique among those couples, with their faintly clandestine air, in boldly underlining his presence within the pub by parking outside the entrance a publisher’s van on the side of which was inscribed in large letters: ...

Supermax

John Bayley, 8 December 1988

The Letters of Max Beerbohm 1892-1956 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Murray, 244 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7195 4537 4
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The Faber Book of Letters 
edited by Felix Pryor.
Faber, 319 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 571 15269 4
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... is not for pen to write or paper to record.’ Yet pen wrote it and paper recorded it, even so. Rupert Hart-Davis does not reprint much of the correspondence about Wilde, rightly thinking it available elsewhere, but he does publish the touching letter Max wrote to Robert Ross, Oscar’s premier initiator, when he was in New York with his ...

The Last Georgian

John Bayley, 13 June 1991

Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... One of the many excellent photographs Barry Webb has assembled shows Blunden going out to bat with Rupert Hart-Davis, in a match between Jonathan Cape and the Alden Press. That was in 1938. Blunden looks miniature, a frail determined Don Quixote with eagle nose and jaw, who had persuaded the burly Yorkshireman as they set out for the crease together not to wear batting gloves, which were unsporting ...

For ever England

John Lucas, 16 June 1983

Sherston’s Progress 
by Siegfried Sassoon.
Faber, 150 pp., £2.25, March 1983, 9780571130337
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The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon 
by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 160 pp., £5.25, March 1983, 0 571 13010 0
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Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 288 pp., £10.50, March 1983, 0 571 11997 2
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... and he is posted first to Litherland and then to Craiglockhart War Hospital, the diary stops. Hart-Davis does not make it clear whether Sassoon destroyed any diary he might have kept at that time. He says merely that ‘from this point there is no surviving diary until December,’ and he adds that the outline of the missing months can be sketched in by ...

Schusterism

C.H. Sisson, 18 April 1985

Diaries: 1923-1925 
by Siegfried Sassoon, edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 320 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 571 13322 3
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... an old acquaintance of Sassoon’s, still cuts a dignified figure; it was indeed only in 1925, as Rupert Hart-Davis tells us in one of his meticulous (and most helpful) footnotes, that this ‘critic, biographer and man of letters’, born in 1849, was knighted. Frank Schuster (1840-1928), ‘wealthy musiclover and giver of parties’, was still giving ...

Wolfish

John Sutherland: The pushiness of young men in a hurry, 5 May 2005

Publisher 
by Tom Maschler.
Picador, 294 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 330 48420 6
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British Book Publishing as a Business since the 1960s 
by Eric de Bellaigue.
British Library, 238 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 7123 4836 0
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Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Viking, 484 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 670 91485 1
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... Deutsch’s bed, and then at his right hand when he needed a factotum. Philip Ziegler’s life of Rupert Hart-Davis (2004) was kindly received for perhaps the same reason. ‘I’m not really “au fond” a publisher at all,’ Hart-Davis told a friend. ‘I’m really some sort of literary bloke, who likes ...

In Fiery Letters

Mark Ford: F.T. Prince, 8 February 2018

Reading F.T. Prince 
by Will May.
Liverpool, 256 pp., £75, December 2016, 978 1 78138 333 9
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... whose head is compared to that of Veronese’s equerry, is echoed in Prince’s late portrait of Rupert Brooke, which lingers over the soldier-poet’s ‘bare-throated profile with the tumbled bright young hair’, and decides that he is ‘beautiful/As with a woman’s beauty, and yet masculine’. It’s a beauty that is consecrated and preserved by ...

Shaw tests the ice

Ronald Bryden, 18 December 1986

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 1241 pp., £65, September 1986, 0 571 13901 9
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... of politics, music and journalism in which Shaw moved. Weintraub is not as immaculate an editor as Rupert Hart-Davis, nor his match as a stylist (in one footnote he refers to Shaw’s ‘massive disinterest in Scottish music’), but he comes close to rivalling Hart-Davis’s superb annotation of Oscar Wilde’s ...

Bolsheviks and Bohemians

Angus Calder, 5 April 1984

The Life of Arthur Ransome 
by Hugh Brogan.
Cape, 456 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 224 02010 2
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Bohemia in London 
by Arthur Ransome, introduced by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Oxford, 284 pp., £3.50, January 1984, 0 19 281412 5
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... In the middle of the first decade of this century, there were, of course, rumours of wars, and Russia had just been convulsed by revolution. Though German lager was a well-loved tipple in London nightspots, Britons were bound to wonder if Germany wasn’t winning the worldwide battle for markets and whether conflict with her could be avoided: meanwhile, the British Empire seemed at its zenith and Kipling and Newbolt were the most flourishing poets of the day ...

Inexhaustible Engines

Michael Holroyd, 1 March 1984

Bernard Shaw: A Bibliography, Vols I and II 
by Dan Laurence.
Oxford, 1058 pp., £80, December 1983, 0 19 818179 5
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Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: 1856-1907 
by Margery Morgan.
Profile, 45 pp., £1.50, July 1982, 0 85383 518 7
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The Art and Mind of Shaw: Essays in Criticism 
by A.M. Gibbs.
Macmillan, 224 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 28679 0
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... is essentially Mr Laurence’s own work, should be treated as an exception. His dedication to Rupert Hart-Davis and his wife is a fitting vote of thanks to the man who (as the letters to George Lyttleton indicate) has encouraged him since the mid-1950s. In future, such labour as this must increasingly be supplied by technology. The ‘bog, clay and ...

Meringue-utan

Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments, 8 August 2002

Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... with all her friends, many of them mutual friends of whose discomfiture she was oblivious. To Rupert Hart-Davis she wrote that Cecil and his wife were ‘like two wheels of a bicycle propelling the stark frame of their life together, never meeting’. It is a good image. Hastings, who is a sympathetic but not an indulgent biographer, knows when to ...

Love in a Dark Time

Colm Tóibín: Oscar Wilde, 19 April 2001

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde 
edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis.
Fourth Estate, 1270 pp., £35, November 2000, 1 85702 781 7
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... The first two months of 1895 were busy for Oscar Wilde. In late January he was in Algiers with Alfred Douglas. He wrote to Robert Ross: ‘There is a great deal of beauty here. The Kabyle boys are quite lovely. At first we had some difficulty procuring a proper civilised guide. But now it is all right and Bosie and I have taken to haschish: it is quite exquisite: three puffs of smoke and then peace and love ...

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