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.
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