Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant

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9780140165326: Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant

Stephen Tennant died intestate in 1987, aged 80, and has become a cult figure. He appears in numerous biographies about the 1920s and 1930s and he was the model for Cedric Hampton in "Love in a Cold Climate" by Nancy Mitford. In his early youth he entertained his friends at his mother, Lady Glenconner's manor house Wilsford Manor in Wiltshire. Here he was photographed by Cecil Beaton to become one of the typical images of 1920s "beautiful" young people. After his 21st birthday, his life went downhill. He suffered from tuberculosis. At this time he became the adored of Siegfried Sassoon and spent his convalescence with him in the Mediterranean. When he returned to Wilsford, Tennant led an indolent existence on his comfortable inhertance and worked for 40 years on his novel "Lascar". He became a recluse, redecorating Wilsford with fishnets, pink satin and golden conch shells. His hair was long and dyed mauve, he wore kaftans and many gilded bangles. This stage of his life is pitilessly described by his niece, Emma Tennant, in her novel "The House of Hospitalities".

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From Library Journal:

Blessed with literary and artistic talents, friend to E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and other prominent writers of his time, Tennant never acquired the self-discipline to achieve substantial success. Journalist Hoare suggests that this wealthy, flamboyantly effeminate British aristocrat may actually have been too insecure to risk failure. He was also self-destructive, as the account here of his stormy afair with Siegfried Sassoon demonstrates. Of equal interest are the author's discussions of Tennant's social milieu and the many artists and writers he knew. Extensive use of diaries, letters, and interviews gives this well-written, often moving account an undoubted authenticity. Highly recommended for college and public libraries.
- Judy Mimken, Cardinal Stritch Coll . , Milwaukee
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Flashy artist/writer Stephen Tennant (1906-1987) cultivated a life of glamour and an international circle that included Cecil Beaton, Truman Capote and Willa Cather. According to PW , "Hoare's extensive research is backed by excerpts from the subject's correspondence, interviews with survivors of the glittering age and striking photos, all heightening interest in a definitive Peter Pan."
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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