Victor Gollancz: A Biography by Ruth Dudley Edwards - review by Jeremy Lewis

Jeremy Lewis

Saint Victor

Victor Gollancz: A Biography

By

Gollancz 782 pp £20.00 order from our bookshop
 

How is it possible that even the noisiest of publishers can merit a biography of the length normally reserved for Queen Victoria or members of the Bloomsbury Group - still more so when the gentleman in question was a byword for high-minded humbuggery, tucking into slap-up meals at the Savoy while urging his fellow citizens to tighten their belts to stave off starvation in post-war Germany, and loudly proclaiming brotherly love while trampling roughshod over those with whom he had dealings? Part of the answer, of course, is that - as the founder of the Left Book Club and a forceful advocate of left-wing and humanitarian causes - VG was a controversial and highly influential public figure; and by the end of this entertaining and altogether gripping book it's hard to suppress a certain fondness for a bully and tyrant who was also, it seems, a genuinely as well as self-avowedly good and kindly man.

VG was born in Maida Vale in 1893. His father was a hard-working jeweller: they shared a love of music, but early on VG showed signs of abandoning Judaism for his own composite creed - part Judaism, part Christianity, with bits of Blake and Shelley thrown

Sign Up to our newsletter

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

Follow Literary Review on Twitter