Writing in the Dark
As the streetlamps flickered out and lights were obscured behind brown-paper screens, a subdued atmosphere took hold of London in 1939. Cloistered in pubs and gloomy sitting rooms, London’s young writers and artists faced being sent to the front, trading their paintbrushes and pens for the weapons of war. In WRITING IN THE DARK, Will Loxley conjures up this brooding world and tells the story of the defiant magazine Horizon, which sprung up against the odds.
Interweaving the personal histories of the magazine’s leaders – Cyril Connolly, Stephen Spender and John Lehmann, with their friends and contemporaries Virginia Woolf, George Orwell and Dylan Thomas, as well as many more names both familiar and not – Will brings us into these writers’ homes and into the little offices at 6 Lansdowne Terrace. WRITING IN THE DARK captures the literary life of WWII, fusing the exhausted melancholy in the aftermath of the Blitz with changes in the writers’ own lives, as they moved from city to countryside, from youth to middle age.
World War Two saw a boom in literary writing in black-out Britain of which the brightest star was the magazine Horizon. Will Loxley has a deft touch, wit, and a panoramic eye which would have pleased Cyril Connolly himself. * John Sutherland, author of Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me * A marvellous tour d'Horizon, written with energy and an eye for the spot-on detail, and creating a rich picture of culture, art, work, friendship and love in a London going through extraordinary times. * Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Cafe * A consistently well-researched and highly illuminating take on an undersung era in British literary life * D.J. Taylor author of Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature 1939-1951 * I enjoyed being transported, through Loxley's vignettes, to various corners of London...Loxley's first chapter, on Isherwood, [is] one of the most engaging I've read...a measured and thoughtful debut -- Daisy Dunn * The Literary Review * An army of bitchy, backstabbing, rivalrous literary greats inhabit this energetic history... Loxley's voice is energetic and enthused * The Times * Writing in the Dark by Will Loxley charts Horizon's story in absorbing, novel-like form, across a tight and well-researched 352 pages.... It chronicles the capacity for art to bend with the winds of change and celebrates the importance of the printed word...What we learn from Writing in the Dark is that the right words can - and should - always be sought * Monocle * This is Loxley's first book ... he is clearly a gifted writer * The Sunday Times * A bombshell of a first book...we can, thanks to Loxley's sinuous prose and ingenious imagination, experience the vicarious trauma of being bombed out in the Blitz... irresistible * The Critic * [A] lively account... London itself could be said to be the other major character in Writing in the Dark, which is particularly good at describing buildings, both ruined and surviving, so that members of the large cast are located solidly and vividly in their homes and offices. * The Spectator * Loxley does a fine job of keeping this work of literary history lively...He knows how to keep a narrative going, and his critical asides are often incisive and memorably expressed. At his best, he is excellent. His concluding chapter, taking the unusual viewpoint that the poets of the Second World War are a match for their Great War counterparts, is so vigorously argued and marries criticism, history and biography together so well, that I read it again as soon as I finished it. * Sunday Telegraph * Loxley has an engaging style... packed with intriguing, often hilarious, anecdotes. * Observer * An enthralling overview of how a dozen London-based writers experienced the war. Well-chosen extracts from their work vividly capture the capital's changing moods. * The Tablet * A deft, novelistic survey of London's entwined, sometimes incestuous, world of letters during the second world war. * Financial Times * Highly entertaining and compulsively readable, Loxley's stylishly written debut brings literary London during the Blitz back to life. * The Lady *
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