Diaries, 1942-1954: v. 1

Diaries, 1942-1954: v. 1

Paperback

By (author) Michael Bloch, By (author) James Lees-Milne

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  • Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 512 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 36mm | 358g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0719566819
  • ISBN 13: 9780719566813
  • Sales rank: 207,406

Product description

James Lees-Milne (1908-97) made his name as the country house expert of the National Trust and for being a versatile author. But he is now best known for the remarkable diary he kept for most of his adult life, which has been compared with that of Samuel Pepys and hailed as 'a treasure of contemporary English literature'. The first of three, this volume covers its first dozen years, beginning with his return to work for the National Trust during the Second World War, and ending with his tempestuous marriage to the exotic Alvilde Chaplin. The diary vividly portrays the hectic social life of London during the Blitz, when in the intervals between struggling to save a disintegrating architectural heritage he enjoys a dizzying variety of romantic experiences with both sexes. His descriptions of visits to harassed country-house owners are as perceptive as they are hilarious. With the war's end, the mood changes as he portrays a world of gloom and austerity. He shares the prevailing pessimism, yet during these years arranges the transfer of some of England's loveliest houses to the safe keeping of the National Trust. Finally he escapes from England to live on the Continent with his beautiful paramour, yet remains restless and dissatisfied. The diaries of James Lees-Milne were originally published in twelve volumes between 1975 and 2005. Michael Bloch, James Lees-Milne's literary executor and editor of the last five volumes of the complete work, has produced this skilful compilation from the first five volumes - including interesting new material omitted from the original publications.

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Author information

Born in 1953, Michael Bloch read law at St John's College, Cambridge, and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. He worked for Maitre Suzanne Blum, the Parisian lawyer of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and wrote six books about the couple. His other subjects include Hitler's foreign minister Ribbentrop, F. M. Alexander (founder of the Alexander Technique) and the politician Jeremy Thorpe. He met James Lees-Milne in 1979, became his literary executor on his death in 1997, has edited the final five volumes of his diary and is currently writing his biography.

Review quote

Just as querulous, misanthropic, greedy, vain and fascinating as ever. One reads, one deplores - and reads on with vindictive delight Patrick Skene-Caitling, Sunday Telegraph The greatest diarist of our times - funny, feline and disconcertingly honest, wielding a rapier to Alan Clark's cudgel Jeremy Lewis, The Oldie His wonderful diaries demonstrates to anyone with eyes to see that he was a superb chronicler of the human condition Hugh Massingberd, Spectator 'Funny, shrewd, waspish and wise ... Lees-Milne was the greatest diarist of this century, and one of its finest writers' Jeremy Lewis, Literary Review 'Nothing short of phenomenal ... surely the finest diary of the 20th Century, truly a great masterpiece of English literature' Hugh Massingberd, Country Life 'Without question one of the finest diarists of the 20th century' Selina Hastings, Spectator