Magazine article The Spectator

Letters in the Attic

Magazine article The Spectator

Letters in the Attic

Article excerpt

FIRST FRIENDS

by Ronald Blythe

Viking, 25, pp. 156 Donald Blythe aroused a good deal of interest and approval by his first success, Akenfield, a careful social study of class distinctions in a Suffolk village, notable if only for the way it described how the servant girls of the great house were made to stand facing the passage wall when they met 'Master' or 'Mistress', until they had passed by. It is a detail, but one that is impossible to forget.

The next book of his which came my way was a luxuriously produced album of the letters and sketches of a few Slade students in the period before and during the first world war - notably John and Paul Nash, Dora Carrington and Christine Kuhlens. This was a limited, luxury edition costing 200.

First Friends is virtually the same text but comes in less sumptuous form. In its introduction I learn that I was myself largely responsible for its existence, since after Carrington's tragic death I rescued the letters from a tin box in the junk room, sorted them and despatched them when possible to their authors, after reading them with interest. …

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