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This report is taken from PN Review 221, Volume 41 Number 3, January - February 2015.

The Double Man: Karl Miller Nicolas Tredell
Karl Miller, editor, biographer, and literary critic, died on 24 September 2014 at the age of 83. Miller was born on 2 August 1931 in Straiton, Midlothian, but his parents separated at his birth and his maternal grandmother, ‘a wonderful friend’, brought him up. As he remarked in his 1990 PNR interview, he was ‘a kind of orphan’ whose ‘name was uncertain. I did have a name, but I didn’t live with a family who bore that name’. He recalled going to school for the first time at the age of five and queuing up in the village playground not knowing who his father was: ‘every other child had a mother or a fusspot with them for the registration, but I was by myself and could not answer the questions’. He denied that his childhood was deprived or unhappy but acknowledged that these early experiences contributed to his later concern with duality. He would go on to forge a highly effective but self-­protective persona, becoming a kind of double man.

Miller won a place at the Old Royal High School on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, where he did well. After two years’ compulsory National Service, working with the British Forces Network in Hamburg, he went to Cambridge to read English at Downing College, under the tutelage of F.R. Leavis. He found Leavis exciting in print but intolerant of dissent in discussion, and he did not confine himself to Leavisite circles. He developed what we would now call strong networking skills and proved open to both individual talents and movements while never ...


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