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This report is taken from PN Review 268, Volume 49 Number 2, November - December 2022.

Grey Gowrie Anthony Gormley
Composed to be read at his memorial service at St James’s Piccadilly, 27 September 2022


Calls come unexpectedly; down the line that keen patrician voice with its conspiratorial tones always announcing the prelude to something exciting.

What was it about Alexander Patrick Greysteil Hore-Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie that gave him such convening power? Could’ve been the name but once you got beyond the name there was so much else: in speaking (and loving) those syllabled words always with an emphasis on vowels, inquisitive, expectant, anticipating dark eyes framed by big dark rimmed spectacles.

He absolutely brought people together – I remember a lunch when Grey was chairman of the Arts Council. He was trying to get to and connect with the creative spirit of the nation. Sally Potter was there working on The Tango Lesson among other musicians and artists. The themes were written as an agenda: real discussion, nothing sloppy. How can art continue to make its demands on us without us making demands of it?

I always thought of Grey as a kind of buccaneer Conservative. He was in there a member of the establishment but on the side of artists, egging them on but also asking for more, asking for the best, asking for better than the ‘already done’.

He was both convenor and instigator: imagine a bus careering down the western edge of Lake Como, artists and poets aboard grace of Drue Heinz and her Hawthornden ‘Conversazione’. David Sylvester asks, ‘Who is the greatest ...


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