Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy Julian Maclaren-Ross by Paul Willetts - review by Philip Oakes

Philip Oakes

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Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy Julian Maclaren-Ross

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In the threadbare 1940s, Horizon, which had been nursed through the Second World War in increasingly &agile health by its editor Cyril Connolly, dispatched a questionnaire to a selection of leading writers, asking them what they needed - financially, emotionally, materially - to practise their art in the brave new postwar world. Most replies were painfully high-minded, but Julian Maclaren- Ross came straight to the point. 'A writer needs all he can lay his hands on in order to keep alive,' he declared. 'Don't listen to your publisher's sob stories about how little he can afford. He'll have a country house and polo ponies when you are borrowing the price of a drink in Fitzrovia. Remember, he makes the money; make him give you as much as you can extort, short of using a gun or pincers. Art for art's sake is all cock, anyway.'

Dr Johnson said more or less the same thing almost two centuries earlier and little had (or, indeed, has) changed in the interim. Professional writers write not for glory, but for hard cash; and however brisk his wit, however larky his imagination, Maclaren-Ross could never make enough of the green

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