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This report is taken from PN Review 214, Volume 40 Number 2, November - December 2013.

Taylor of Sevenoaks Neil Powell
Many readers of PNR will know of L.C. ('Kim') Taylor, who died in July at the age of 91, as Director of the Gulbenkian Foundation, who co-founded and co-edited the Carcanet/Gulbenkian series 'Aspects of Portugal'. I too knew him in that role and, as a freelance editor, sometimes worked on his books; but in this there was an element of weird coincidence, for we'd first met many years earlier in an entirely different context.

In the spring of 1959, having scraped so borderline a pass in my eleven-plus that the local grammar school didn't want to know me, I found myself being interviewed for a place at Sevenoaks School. There were two interviewers: one was an engaging bearded jazz-playing classicist called Brian Townend; the other, a large and astonishingly young man who I could hardly believe was the headmaster, Kim Taylor. He had an unusual voice: plummy, but with the merest hint of an impediment, as if a fragment of plum were lodged in his larynx. It made him seem enormously kind and slightly vulnerable. And I was struck even then by something I'd see again -  most recently at a Carcanet party in the 1990s -  and that was the power of Taylor's smile: he bestowed his smile like a benediction, so that you couldn't help feeling blessed by it. He did this, as I'd discover, even if you were in trouble, and then the effect was immensely chastening.

His self-imposed task during the 1950s and 1960s was to turn a minor public school in Kent, which also served as the town's ...


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