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

Jeremy Lewis

Saint Victor

Victor Gollancz: A Biography


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

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