Leonard Woolf by Victoria Glendinning - review by Peter Washington

Peter Washington

The Times of Mr Woolf

Leonard Woolf


Simon & Schuster 530pp £25

Social scientists have recently identified a distinctive type of modern male they call the Great Woman’s Partner or GWP, pronounced Gawp. Gawps are on the increase. Although they occurred in the past – Mark Antony, Abelard and Prince Albert spring to mind – their numbers are now multiplying fast as women become more prominent in public life. Perhaps surprisingly, given our reputation for chauvinism, Britain has produced more than its fair share of Gawps, the most celebrated twentieth-century examples being Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Denis Thatcher. Not far behind them in celebrity comes Leonard Woolf.

The crucial thing for a successful Gawp is that he should be well matched with his spouse. If you believe Victoria Glendinning, Leonard Woolf satisfied this requirement. Of the other successful Gawps living with the strain of intense public scrutiny, Denis was (and Philip is) the firm-jawed husband of a

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