Diana Athill

A Bluecoat Boy

Growing Up in a War


Pimlico 400pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

This book continues an autobiography, the first part of which, Clouds of Glory, won the J R Ackerley Prize. It is by a man who has been a television reporter, an art critic, a teacher of philosophy at Oxford and a Member of Parliament, though from this slice of his life what you would expect him to become is something to do with music. His native heath was Hoxton, once described as ‘the leading criminal quarter of London, and indeed of all England’, and still pretty tough in his day. He was born to a mother who made no bones about disliking her children, particularly him, and a father – a partner in the family business, which was a shop selling menswear – whose love and intelligent guidance did much to compensate for the mother’s bleak chilliness. It was from him that Bryan got his passion for music.

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