David Lancaster

Instinct for Talent

Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape


Secker & Warburg 567pp £15 order from our bookshop

Such is the irony of fame, that very few people nowadays have heard of Sir Edmund Gosse, except for his autobiographical Father and Son. But, in his heyday, he was one of the most celebrated Victorian literary figures. Other writers could have been the first British champion of Ibsen and Gide, but none could have wheedled themselves into the establishment as well as Gosse. Reading his biography is like going through the guest list for the ultimate Victorian dinner party – Rossetti, Tennyson, Browning, Henry James – all were close friends. At the same time, he wrote the first biographies of Donne and Swinburne and was consulted by Asquith on which poets should be buried in Westminster Abbey. It was a remarkable, slightly grotesque achievement, the nineteenth-century equivalent of Sir Angus Wilson popping down to Chequers to see Mrs Thatcher.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,