A Sultry Month

Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846

A Sultry Month
Francesca Wade, Alethea Hayter
NZ$ 32.99
Our Price:
NZ$ 26.39
h216 x 135mm - 256pg
7 Jul 2022 UK
International import eta 7-19 days
Out Of Stock
Currently no stock in-store, stock is sourced to your order
Wine and dine with Victorian London' s literati in a heatwave in one of the first ever group biographies, introduced by Francesca Wade (author of Square Haunting). Though she loved the heat she could do nothing but lie on the sofa and drink lemonade and read Monte Cristo . ' Never bettered. ' Guardian' Brilliant. ' Julian Barnes' Wholly original. ' Craig Brown' A pathfinder. ' Richard Holmes' Extraordinary. ' Penelope LivelyJune 1846. As London swelters in a heatwave - sunstroke strikes, meat rots, ice is coveted - a glamorous coterie of writers and artists spend their summer wining, dining and opining. With the ringletted ' face of an Egyptian cat goddess' , Elizabeth Barrett is courted by her secret fiance, the poet Robert Browning, who plots their elopement to Italy; Keats roams Hampstead Heath; Wordsworth visits the zoo; Dickens is intrigued by Tom Thumb; the Carlyles host parties for a visiting German novelist and suffer a marital crisis. But when the visionary painter Benjamin Robert Haydon commits suicide, they find their entwined lives spiralling around the tragedy . . . One of the first-ever group biographies, Alethea Hayter' s glorious A Sultry Month is a lively mosaic of archival riches inspired by the collages of the Pop Artists. A groundbreaking feat of creative non-fiction in 1965, her portrait of Victorian London' s literati is just as vivid, witty and enticing today. ' Elegant Hayter more or less invented the biographical form which is a close study of a brief period in the life of an individual or a group . . . A rigorous scholar [with] an artist' s eye. ' A. S. Byatt' Hayter' s clever, innovative book turned a searchlight on a time, a place, a circle of people; it has surely inspired the subsequent fashion for group biographies. ' Penelope Lively' Nothing I' ve ever read has flung me so immediately into those streets, that weather, that period. Hayter never forgets that people want stories, that lives are stories. ' Margaret Forster' Hayter could take a tiny chip of life [and] find within it the seeds of a whole existence. ' Richard Holmes' A pioneer . . . Beautifully written vignettes . . . Immaculate scholarship and intense readability. ' Jonathan Bate' Outstanding . . . A small masterpiece. ' Anthony Burgess' A brilliant recreation of London literary life in 1846, which is highly original in its form and narrative cross-cutting. ' Julian Barnes
"Hayter more or less invented [this] biographical form . . . A rigorous scholar [with] an artist' s eye. " -- A. S Byatt "A fascinating and wholly original new approach to history in this slice-of-life portrait of artistic London. " -- Craig Brown "A pathfinder . . . Hayter could take a tiny chip of life [and] find within it the seeds of a whole existence. " -- Richard Holmes
Alethea Hayter was born in Cairo in 1911, where her father was a legal advisor to the Egyptian government. After his death when she was 12, the family returned to England in reduced circumstances, but Hayer won a scholarship to study History at Oxford in 1929. She became a journalist before being recruited as a ' demi-semi-spook' by the Postal Censorship department during the war; she was then posted to Greece, Paris and Belgium with the British Council. Hayter' s first book, Mrs Browning (1962), won that year' s Royal Society of Literature Award. It was followed by the much-admired A Sultry Month (1965), Opium and the Romantic Imagination (1968), Horatio' s Version (1972), A Voyage in Vain (1973) and The Wreck of the Abergavenny (2002). Hayter was appointed OBE in 1970 and died in 2006, aged 94. Francesca Wade has written for the London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Financial Times, Paris Review, Guardian, New Statesman, Frieze and Prospect. She has been the editor of the White Review and is a recipient of a Robert B Silvers Grant for Work in Progress and a 2020-21 Fellowship at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. Her first book, Square Haunting, was a group biography of five trailblazing interwar women, longlisted for the Baille Gifford Prize and shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize. Her next book is Gertrude Stein: An Afterlife.

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