Beaton In The Sixties: The Cecil Beaton Diaries As They Were Written by Cecil Beaton (Intr. Hugo Vickers) - review by Patrick O'Connor

Patrick O'Connor

The Gods Grow Old

Beaton In The Sixties: The Cecil Beaton Diaries As They Were Written


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 434pp £25 order from our bookshop

FOR CECIL BEATON disillusionment was not only sad, it became boring. Things that seemed alluring when out of reach become commonplace; people who were once glamorous become middle-aged and tiresome. Close family are indifferent to success and estime, unimpressed by his endeavours. Even the gods have grown old: Garbo's hair is streaked with silver, Churchill is senile, Picasso's eyes have lost their brilliance, Chanel is 'going mad in a rather interesting way'.

At the age of sixty-one, when this new volume of unexpurgated diaries starts, Cecil Beaton had never been more famous. Afier the success of the film version of My Fair Lady (which he had designed in Hollywood), his first two volumes of diaries - heady doctored and edited - had been best- sellers. Glossy magazines, newspapers and royalty still lined up for his Beaton: 'something photographs. He had a secure home life, with a beautifid house in the country, and a stylish London pied-2-terre with a dining room lined in black velvet. A handsome young Cahfornian art historian was in situ as live-in lover and ornamental hermit.

Yet someone whose whole life had been devoted to the glorification of cosmetic glamour could hardly fail to be rattled by the onset

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