Best known as the most flamboyant and dissolute of all the bohemians who flocked to 1940s and '50s Soho, Julian Maclaren-Ross was also an inimitably stylish writer. He had the rare ability to distil the detail of everyday life into vibrant stories, a skill he refined as a raconteur in pubs and clubs, and used to great effect in his letters. These range from gleeful accounts of his love life to glowering despair at his frequent poverty. All give a vivid sense of the life of a writer living at once on the margins of society and at the heart of London's artistic and literary bohemia; always with his distinctive narrative voice, whether effervescently or bleakly humorous, unconsciously poignant, bad-tempered or desperate.
Despite his rackety and chaotic life, his literary admirers attracted by his beguiling, original and wryly amusing novels, memoirs, short stories and criticism included Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. Now a new generation has recognised him as a leading twentieth-century British writer. Selected Letters presents a revealing portrait of Maclaren-Ross's bizarre and dramatic life: a stint as a door-to-door salesman, desertion from the army, imprisonment, homelessness, even a dangerous obsession with George Orwell's glamorous widow. Drawing on Maclaren-Ross's correspondence with Anthony Powell, John Lehmann and other prominent figures, this collection also offers a vivid evocation of the vanished literary world he inhabited, the world of rationing, basement drinking clubs and evenings punctuated by the melancholy wail of air-raid sirens.
‘'Maclaren-Ross is one of the great unsung heroes of the literary 1940s and at his best a figure to rank with Orwell, Waugh and Connolly'
D.J. TAYLOR, AUTHOR OF ORWELL: THE LIFE
'One of the very best writers of [the twentieth] century'
'Nothing has given me greater pleasure than the continuing revival of one of my favourite writers, Julian Maclaren-Ross.'
PHILIP FRENCH, OBSERVER, BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'a dazzling, talented writer, effortlessly funny and natural enormous gifts' PHILIP HENSHER
Paul Willetts is author of the critically acclaimed biography of Julian Maclaren-Ross, Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia
Paperback 368pp, ISBN 978-0-948238-38-3; £9.95