Faces of Philip – the title suggests someone shadowy, enigmatic. And to many readers Philip Toynbee must be just that, an Observer reviewer who occasionally appeared on the back of a book jacket, exhorting us to read the contents immediately. He would probably have appreciated the anonymity, happy to live in Monmouthshire working at his journalism and experimental fiction, enjoying his closer circle of friends who were intrigued by this loving, self-mocking, slightly absurd figure, always guaranteed to raise a laugh, especially when drunk. Yet there was another, darker side to him. In later life, suffering from severe depression, he turned to religious questions and published a diary entitled Part of a Journey which minutely examined his inner life.
In many ways, Toynbee was a typical product of the hothouse Thirties – passionate and rebellious as a youth, but sobering up considerably in later life. The son of the historian Arnold Toynbee, he was the first Communist President of the Oxford Union and on coming down spent much of