Kenneth Tynan: A Life by Dominic Shellard - review by Sheridan Morley

Sheridan Morley

Beyond Our Ken

Kenneth Tynan: A Life


Yale University Press 352pp £25 order from our bookshop

INTERESTTSO BE declared: I belong, though only just, to a sixtysomething generation of reviewers; all of us made by Kenneth Tynan, the only drama critic after Shaw and arguably Hazlitt to have received the ultimate accolade of fame by surname only. True, his great rival and contemporary, Harold Hobson, got a knighthood instead, but then Ken's private life was much more scandalous, and I hasten to add therefore that the rest of us were only 'made' by him in a professional sense. I was in my late teens during his all-too-brief Observer and New Yorker prime, and I only really got to know him in his terrible decline.

If, as we are irritatingly often told, a critic is someone who knows the way but can't drive the car, then Ken was perhaps the only one to lie down on the road in front of it and wait to be duly run over. But he was the first star

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter