First published in our magazine in Spring 1985
Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (1 Feb. 1984)
The first section of this volume is a simple account of the Gay Artist / Composer / Diplomat Lord Berners’ upbringing as a child in huntin’, shootin’ and fishin; later Victorian England.
It is a well-trodden path, but is traversed here in an unusually incisive, graceful and charitable way. Even a genuinely sadistic headmaster is treated gently. An effeminate man is the subject of a distasteful bit of queer-bashing.
The author also appears to have a slight streak of anti-semitism which surfaces in the novelle “Far from the Madding War”, where he refers to “fat Jewesses”. The book is a parody of The Oxford Novel, unfortunately the beast was deeply self-parodying anyway and the straining after effect does show.
“First Childhood” is graceful, loveable and beautifully written, make a gift of it to someone you really like or love