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This report is taken from PN Review 217, Volume 40 Number 5, May - June 2014.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
My interest in Henry Green (see PNR 216), further stimulated by Jeremy Treglown’s Romancing: The Life and Work of Henry Green (Faber, 2000), has led me in strange directions and furnished unexpected connections. The biography is, all things considered, a gloomy read, because eventually we see in it the self-indulgent unravelling of a rare literary talent. His father, the industrialist Vincent Yorke, owned Pontifex, an engineering works in Birmingham, and was chairman of the board of Compañia Limitada del Ferrocarril Mexicano. Henry did not see eye to eye with Vincent, but neither could he break entirely free of his influence. Between 1926 and 1952 he published ten novels, but after the last, Doting, nothing of consequence. Physically undermined and, though he never gave up the desire to write, creatively impaired by alcoholism, he died in 1973.

Green (it is simpler to stick to his deliberately low-key pen-name) was a formidable drinker and womaniser. His ‘recreation’, declared in Who’s Who, was ‘romancing over the bottle, to a good band’. He had an enormous circle of acquaintance, literary and aristocratic, including Anthony Powell, Maurice Bowra, Robert Byron, Nevill Coghill, the Mitfords, Ottoline Morrell, Koestler, Aly Khan, and, among Americans, Terry Southern and Eudora Welty. To the latter, whom he met in London in 1950, he was ‘terribly attractive’ and she admitted to being ‘captivated’ by him and his writing. They did not meet again but continued to correspond and she never lost her high regard for his talent: in 1961 she published a long essay praising ...

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