Holy Dread: Diaries 1982-1984 by James Lees-Milne soon to be presented for sale on the impressive BookLovers of Bath web site!
Published: London: John Murray, 2001, Hardback in dust wrapper.
From the cover: In this, the ninth volume of James Lees-Milnes addictive diaries, the flames of his love for their eventual editor, M. , have cooled to a more durable tenderness. There is no change, however, in the sharpness of his observation, and the anecdotes he records with such wit, affection and prejudice are as strangely riveting as when John Betjeman first so described them.
While his brides finger waits outstretched, Kenneth Clark discusses appreciatively with the priest the Coptic wedding ring he has chosen. An old and demanding Hilaire Belloc sets himself alight and has to be rolled on the bathroom floor. Diana Mosley tells how the Kaiser, visiting Eton, asks to have a boy swished for his entertainment. Zita Jungman, a former Bright Young Thing of the twenties, is so far behind with her newspaper reading that she learns months late that she has become a widow.
As always, Death is a major character. Master, the Lees-Milnes ducal landlord, is dug up by hunt protesters following his burial. After walking across fields in driving rain to the funeral of Betjeman the best man who ever lived and the most loveable Lees-Milne sits in the almost pitch dark church, just able to read the prayers by the light of a single window. He himself hopes to die to the music of Orfeo.
JL-Ms diaries are the unique record of a way of life and a sensibility now all but vanished. Many will agree with the verdict of Alan Clark, who kept them by his bed for frequent re-reading, that they are the best diaries of the twentieth century.
Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Pages lightly age-tanned.
Red boards with Silver titling to the Spine. [XI] 240 pages. Index. 9½” x 6¼”.
Of course, if you don’t like this one, may I sweet-talk you into considering additional gorgeous books that are part of my Biography catalogue?