There have been many memoirs of life among the Bloomsberries, but none more wickedly frank or funny than Richard Kennedy’s A Boy at the Hogarth Press.
In 1926, at the age of 16, Richard Kennedy left school without a single qualification and went to work at Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press. Though home from home for London’s intellectual élite, the Press’s damp basement at Tavistock Square was anything but elegant, with the legendarily mean LW keeping a close check on everything, including the toilet paper, and frequently exploding when confronted with RK’s latest idiocy. The Woolfs clearly developed a fondness for their apprentice, but when he left several years later LW pronounced him ‘the most frightful idiot he [had] ever had the privilege of meeting in a long career of suffering fools’.
But Kennedy, who became a successful artist and children’s book illustrator, was taking everything in, and 50 years later he produced a minor classic in A Boy at the Hogarth Press, accompanied by his own wonderfully alive illustrations. Later still, he published his touching childhood memoir, A Parcel of Time. First published together as a Slightly Foxed Edition in 2008, and now in a Plain Foxed Edition, the two are a sheer delight.
‘For the life of a small publisher is like no other: it’s all hands to the pump in a way which now simply doesn’t happen in a vast conglomerate awash with money. In an age where company swallows company, and Amazon endeavours to swallow the lot, it is refreshing to think not only of the long-gone activities of the Hogarth Press, but also of the office of Slightly Foxed, where jiffy bags are stuffed by everyone as each new title in this series is published, ready to be sent off to loyal subscribers.’ – Sue Gee
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In 1922, Richard Kennedy’s formidable grandmother pulled a well-connected string and got him a scholarship to Marlborough. To say that Kennedy’s education up to this point had been patchy is an...Read more
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The leaves are starting to pile up in the Square. Pinker scurries about in them. Maynard Keynes and Lopokova are being blown along – a vast ship accompanied by a trim little tug. LW showed me how...Read more