BIOGRAPHY, BOOKS, general biography
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Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay

antichayhead
Aldous-Huxley-007You may remember a while back someone posted a comment to the effect they believed a character in an early draft of ANTIC HAY, a novel of 1923 by Aldous Huxley, was possibly based on Basil Rathbone. I was – and still am – fairly skeptical of this, but he has now sent me a longish extract, so I figured I’d post it just to get feedback from other people.

A bit of background – ANTIC HAY is apparently a roman a clef (which means I am told, a novel based on real people), set amongst the bohemian artistic community of London in the early 1920s. The character of St. John (I am told) only appears in an early draft and is absent from most published versions, but – to quote the gentleman who provided the text –

“It’s safe to assume he too was based on a real person of Huxley’s acquaintance, like everyone else in the novel. The character of Myra, for example, briefly referred to in this extract is based on Nancy Cunard, a socialite of the time, renowned for her plurality of lovers. Did Rathbone know Cunard? Might she, for example, be the “Kitten” referred to so obliquely in his memoirs? The chronology certainly fits very well with this novel’s creation…Huxley was a friend, and indeed a relation by marriage of Rathbone’s”

I can’t vouch for any of this personally (apart from the fact Huxley was a friend of Basil’s and indeed a relation by marriage). I’ve never read any version of ANTIC HAY and don’t know anything about it, or about Nancy Cunard, and haven’t got the time to go researching. But if anyone else wants to – be my guest. But tbh, I can only see tentative reasons to connect this St. John with the Baz. Does anyone know the real identity of “Kitten”? Is it even possible she might be Nancy Cunard?

Anyhow, here is the extract, so you can judge for yourselves:

…Theo St John awoke that Tuesday morning in a cell somewhere south of the river and east of Chelsea. Exactly how far east isn’t material and St. John himself was far from sure. He only knew it was a cell by the feel of the thin stuff mattress beneath him, the echoing sounds of footsteps and even more echoing cheery constabulary humour trickling into his burgeoning awareness. And because of course he had been in such a place before.

He sighed and grunted and experimented with movement. His limbs functioned painlessly, which meant there had probably been no affray, or if there had, he’d come off unharmed. His eyes, however, when he ventured to open them a crack, registered pain of a shafting bodkin-quality he knew too well. Nausea followed the pain up from the well of his consciousness and for one perilous moment his stomach clenched and heaved, and threatened to evict its contents before he could even stand up.

He clamped his eyes tight shut again and forced himself to breathe deep until the spasm passed. There had been drink then. And lots of it. He lay still, eyes clenched against the bright sunlight that was edging into the room through the one small window.

Shifting images of debauchery slid across his inner eye in almost stately fashion. Faces, bodies, sensations. Where had he been? But no name or place cam to him. He hoped somewhere there had been Myra. Myra’s mouth playing over his flesh. Good old girl that she was.

Anon there came a rattling at the door and a detached but amiable voice roused him with a “Come along now sir, it’s time for the magistrate.”

St. John dared to open one eye a fraction to contemplate the firmly moustached face floating above him.

“I say, he said, “could you be a pal and tell me where I am?”

“Bermondsey, sir. Tooley Street Police Station.”

Bermondsey. His brain clutched and squeezed at the name, striving for connection and memory. Nothing came forward beyond a lurching image of dirty wet pavement contacting his cheek.

Under constabulary eyes he struggled to sit and then, delicately, to stand. The floor rocked beneath his feet. His pallor was so desperate his guardian even asked in genuine concern, “are you all right now sir?”

“Sir,” thought St. John, the word spiralling in his brain, “what must one do to have that badge taken from one?”

“Thank, you, splendid,” he said out loud, and promptly vomited profusely over the flagstones.

The constable was kind and called him “sir” again and, watching him, thought his own son had made a better job of life without any of the same advantages.

“Look here, “ said St. John as he tried to clean vomit off his boots, with his tie “what am I charged with?”

“Affray, sir,” came the answer.

“Is it bad?”

“You struck an officer of the law going about their business.”

“Really, why did I do that?”

“ I assume you would know the answer to that sir.”

St. John squinted a moment into placid constabulary eyes. If there was censure or distaste there it was most carefully hidden. He abandoned the hopeless task of cleaning his shoes and let himself be led into the dank little corridor, green-painted as only hospitals and prisons and other places of human despair can be, perhaps by law. There were other men shuffling along. Their caps and threadbare clothes and brittle blank expressions all told who and what they were.

“Just keep in line,” said St. John’s constable, raising his voice to address the corridor at large. No “sir” this time. Etiquette respects the lowest common denominator. One of the men turned to look up at St. John. “Thanks,” he muttered.

“Don’t mention it,” came back from him as a well-bred reflex before he even realised he had no idea what thanks were being offered or why.

* * *

The magistrate’s court was enlivened with a little clutter of anxious female attendance. Some striking and desperate dockworkers had taken their grievance to the street and been beaten into understanding the realities of their position before being charged, without irony, with affray. The women, upper-middle class and conscience-stricken, belonging to some Bloomsbury Socialist group, were there to register the unfairness, as if they imagined the proceedings so far had been some form of oversight they could correct with well-chosen words. Portias looking for Antonios to save. The small, broken creatures disgorged into the dock were for the most part unpromising material for their mercy. But there emerged in their midst one of unquestionably knightly bearing who might be deemed worthy of defence by damsel.

St. John, perhaps uniquely in his history, barely registered the female complement. His slender frame drooped a little with fatigue, his hair drooped in sympathy into his eyes, he had slept in his clothes, which were bad to begin with, and hadn’t washed or shaved. There was vomit still clinging inside his mouth. His head was being pulled and pinched with sickening waves of pain. In long shot, for wasn’t the whole of his life a little film composed by the divine scenarist, he could be taken for one of the brittle beings surrounding him, dessicated by poverty, with want eaten into their souls.

But when one drew closer there – ah there, was the health and youth and the patrician bones and the smooth thick-skinned rubber-suppleness that comes from being marinated in money in the formative years, no amount of hardship will ever take that away; and in close, the bright, hard dart of the eyes, proud beneath downcast lids, which made the pallor and the grime and the stubble seem almost like artfully applied stage make-up. Grave injustice, for he was nothing if not sincere with a sincerity beyond his limited knowing, and as if they sensed that better than he could himself, every Bloomsbury maiden was silenced in mid-squawk by his emergence. They watched him, their mouths almost universally opening into little “Os,” as they detected the arrival of a worthy hero.

True, he had with a strange casualness, given up his last ten shillings three nights ago to buy some bread and milk and coal for some of the brittle people he didn’t know by anything but sight, whose troubles proliferated like blood poisons – father out of work, baby with cough, son with nothing to do but steal useless items from corner shops. A deluge of futility and his last ten shillings gone to try and mop a little of it up. This we have to call sincerity even if Priest or Comrade would both have found him wanting. But as a leader of popular revolution he was poorly equipped in anything but proximity.

Looking about him he struggled to reconstruct enough of the previous night to understand why he was there or how. No memory surfaced at all of anything other than patchy images of female flesh laid bare for him and the one incongruous picture of lying with his cheek against wet London paving.

The character of his fellow affrayers in the dock together with several wounded and indignant constabulary told enough of a story, as did the allegation he had struck a policeman with what was described as “a weapon” but turned out in practice to have been a potato picked up from the road. Even with his absolute lack of recall or explanation , St. John couldn’t resist a soft, one-sided smile at the description, and as he bent his head to hide the involuntary response his eyes met the eyes of the prettiest of the Portias. She gazed her blue gaze at him, full of awe and pity. He gazed back, and the character of his smile changed imperceptibly to meet this new opportunity.

Asked by the clerk of the court to confirm his name, his abode, his crime, he performed his catechism to perfection, even through pain and insipient nausea, like the trouper he was. A perfect modulation (conveying irony, ruefulness, a trace of defiance) and a glowing glance; all of which by some alchemy turned the throwing of a potato into the storming of a new Bastille, and St. John into St. Just. At least for the Bloomsbury tricoteuses. who as one swayed and sighed towards him with soft breath of worship. They gazed at him, and he rewarded them with a glance that spoke of tender but indefinable sentiment directed at each maiden as if to her and her alone, and when he was, inevitably, sentenced to a fine or prison term they clucked and wailed their horror as if he was to be taken out and guillotined.

Sent down, fine unpayable from his fractured finances, he shrugged softly without any indication of rancour. Perhaps because of a strain of willing fatalism in his nature that was oddly innocent and beguiling, perhaps also because he knew he would not go long unrescued.

* * *

Thursday, St. John sat in the Savoy Grill and gazed with distaste upon the fat man who was buying his dinner. The aesthete in St. John detested the way the man’s skin floated loosely on its bed of avoirdupois, dipping and bulging alarmingly at collar and cuffs, rippling downward from his cheeks. His mouth, a little moist rosebud in the midst of it all, was perpetually half open and eager. St. John was exquisitely careful never to think of what that eagerness presaged or enjoined. His mind excised that awareness effortlessly. The single benefit the war had bestowed upon him was this trait of easy and painless amnesia.

His gaze shifted under the vampish lashes, from the contemplation of his companion to the street beyond the window.

“It’s raining,” he said as he pulled a cigarette too carelessly from the case the fat man, serpent-like, had left on the table between them; irresistible invitation even to one who remembered resistance, which St. John did not.

“Are you working?”

“You know damn well the play closed last week.”

“What about Helen and the child?”

“I am not spending a sous on anything but them, I haven’t even got back my overcoat, which our pal Soamesmust have sold by now, God bless him to death.”

“You should have told me I would have helped.”

“I don’t need help, I can take care of my own wife and child.”

“You should take more care of yourself,” the companion said, and St. John bridled.

“Says who?”

“Is it true you gave your last ten shillings to some docker?”

“Actually yes, how do you know?”

“Oh you’re quite the hero with the Bloomsbury Socialists now, word spreads.”

St. John shrugged as if the vagaries of Bloomsbury life were nothing to him and his last 18 hours had not been spent at its breast, sucking deep. He drained his glass of fragrant and expensive whisky and looked across its rim at his companion, with a certain puppy-dog archness he knew, through experience and modulation, almost everyone found irresistible.

“You want me to buy you another one of those,” the companion said, making it more of a statement than a question.

“That would be awfully kind,” St. John responded, barely attempting any note of surprise as the man gestured for the waiter.

“You drink too much,” the companion threw at him suddenly on a little spurt of irritation he barely understood.

“What a dull thing to say.”

“It’s true.”

“Did I say it wasn’t?”

“You will end up a bloated wreck.”

“Oh I see, and you’re concerned for your investment,” said St. John, and his delicate assumption of other things unsaid only annoyed the companion even more.

“I’m concerned for you, if you’re not spending on anything but your wife and child how did you manage to be in that condition?” asked the companion, once the waiter had delivered fresh rations and was safely gone out of earshot. St. John executed his trade mark shrug.

“One has friends.”

“And who are one’s friends?”

“People one knows.”

Fat companion was all too well aware of St. John’s ability to play this kind of tennis indefinitely and another little spasm of irritation made him unusually forthright.

“Oh for God’s sake, you mean Myra’s set don’t you.“

“I don’t think Myra has a set.”

“Don’t even try to evade,” expostulated his companion, before realising his voice had become pitched a trifle too loud, and heads were beginning to turn their way. He took the time to breathe deeply and wait for the moment to pass before continuing in a hoarse whisper, “you told me that was done with.”

St. John’s bright, hard gaze was steady, inscrutable.

“ I told you no such thing.”

“What would become of your wife and child if next time you end up dead?”

“Is that a reflection on Myra’s murderous qualities or the exigencies of her passion?”

Fat companion had no wish to contemplate the latter even as an idea.

“It’s a reflection on your ruinousness. You drink too much, you don’t eat, you fornicate without discernment.”

“And so I’ll die.”

“You wouldn’t be the first to kill himself that way. What about Helen and the boy if that should happen?”

“That wouldn’t be my responsibility would it? One of the universal blessings of the dead; nothing more can be asked of one”

“Some would say it would be very much your responsibility.”

“Then I’ll ask my ancestors to take care of my responsibilities and the mere fact they’re dead won’t be considered an impediment.”

“Did you spend the night with her?”

“Ah, so that’s it,” St. John’s little laugh was only slightly feigned and modulated for effect.

“Not at all,” said fat companion barely realising the lie in his utter indignation. “Why should I mind what you do? My concern is for your wellbeing and that of your child.”

St. John’s mind reached into the void of that night. Those images of bodies moving, lips on flesh, the curve of a naked breast. It might have been Myra.

“Then yes, and I very much enjoyed her.”

Fat companion felt the sting as it was intended he should.

“My God man I thought you were done nosing in that trough.”

“Why? It’s a charming trough. ”

“She’ll destroy you as she does every man she knows.”

“Then good luck to her.”

What was alarming was the degree to which this young creature meant it. Even the fat man’s wallowing self-absorption was arrested by that for a moment as it always was, but only for the moment. His interest was ungenerous. St. John’s mind had little part in it, other than as a nuisance to be dealt with, placated, dulled, with liquor or other things. The fat man saw himself glamorously as a hunter of beautiful big game, and the price was always patience, often failure, even humiliation, but the prize was worth it.

Reflecting on that made him tingle as he watched St. John exhale smoke across the table as if it were an insult. He leaned forward and touched the younger man a glancing contact on the arm, and the hard, glowing gaze was turned on him.

“You know Marshal has something that would be perfect for you. He’s casting it right now. I could mention your name.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Because you deserve it. I’m an admirer of your talent. If you have something else coming along then of course…”

“Of course,” said St. John.

“Is there anything else coming along?”

“As it happens, no.”

“Well, then, the offer remains.”

It was satisfying to see the slight discomfiture in those arrogant eyes, the sudden slightly nervous play of the hand as it stubbed out the remnants of his cigarette.

“Look here,” St. John said, “I’m not about to be grateful, you know that.”

“Not at all.”

“I don’t bloody care if I never work again, only I have responsibilities.”

“Of course, and I want to help you.”

He nudged the case of fragrant Turkish cigarettes a little closer with his finger, indicating to St. John to help himself, and the young man did so absently, with a practiced, unconscious grace that gave his fat companion a pang of pure pleasure. He was what the fat man referred to as mettlesome. High bred, nervier than some but more beautiful than most and worth the added struggle. The fat man continued to watch as St. John sank the rest of his drink and turned to look about the room, searching, doubtless, for some suitable female to admire. Contemplating the fine masculine lines and planes of throat and cheek and jaw calmed the fat man. Let the boy pretend he was free to choose if he wanted. Let him have his women if he wanted, the fat man knew he had something, finally, this boy would need to beg from him. And it could wait. The victory would be all the sweeter…

Extract from a draft of Antic Hay – by Aldous Huxley
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67 Comments

  1. Kassandra says

    Cool blog! Is your design custom made or did you
    download it from somewhere?

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    • I don’t have the money to go paying for no durn fancy CSS upgrades mister, this here is just a WordPress theme. The name’s at the bottom, can’t remember what it is just now.

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  2. Leonard Romash says

    I am so grateful for this post and thanks such a lot for sharing it with us.

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  3. While it’s well-written I don’t see any reason for thinking it’s based on poor Mr Rathbone, who was by all accounts a very conservative and well-behaved gent. I imagine dear old Baz would be rather shocked to think anyone would ascribe such rowdiness to him. 😀 And I hardly imagine he and the disreputable Huxley would have been friends.

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    • Roberta says

      I’m not sure where your image of Basil comes from. He apparently had quite a few lovers in his youth, and was seeing Eva le Gallienne and Ouida at the same time.

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  4. I would say this could easily be Rathbone, Antic Hay is all about people Huxley knew, and he and Rathbone were friends.

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    • Elaine Drury says

      I agree, it reads very plausibly as a portrait of Basil’s character post-war, even if not as a description of his real experience, which since this is a novel is likely to be fictional.

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      • Plausibly in the sense the character has Mr Rathbone’s middle name as a surname, even though Basil would sooner have been caught dead than drunk in public or fighting policemen or sleeping with available ladies who weren’t his wife? What on earth would Ouida have said if he’d done that? And C Aubrey Smith would have drummed him out of the cricket club for ungentlemanly conduct! 🙂

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        • Roberta says

          I think he slept with quite a few available ladies who were not his wife. His first wife anyway

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  6. Jenny says

    Ooooh, how intriguing! I want this to be Basil so much and I want there to be an entire novel about him, fat man and Myra! Please, Santa, for next Christmas!

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  7. Hot Chick says

    It’s a great read and I could easily picture Basil because even though the description is not that precise, everything about it fits with Bazzz. I like “hard, glowing gaze.” That’s just perfect. If it is Bazz, then who is the “fat man”?

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  8. Margaret G says

    Absolutely fascinating. Someone mentioned Wimsey and Nancy Cunard makes me think of the tragic character in “Murder Must Advertize” who I think may have been based on her. What’s her name?

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  9. amomwholovesbasil says

    I don’t believe it’s Basil, like someone else said, he didn’t live like that. He wasn’t bohemian

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  10. Penelope says

    I was told by someone who knew Basil in the 1920’s that Kitten was Lady Diana Cooper

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    • Judy D. says

      WOW. And what was she all about. Idea: Haven’t read it in years, but are there any hints in his short story “Cheedie” about who he may have been canoodling with?
      To answer a few misc. things, the info on BR/OB living at Garden of Allah is in the book by Sheilah Graham, just a line or so (she lived there with F. Scott Fitzgerald, so should know who else was there). Certainly not a place he’d want to admit to living at in his sanitary book. (By the way, wonder if he had to submit each chapter draft to Scriptwriter Ouida?) Also, the Huxley book, parts of it, is Googleable–look for, of all things, “Aldous Huxley Antic Hay The Gioconda Smile”!! I see in it the fat guy, Myra with a last name (who appears with a haughty (not hottie, so not Bazz?) tall toff in a top hat), but nothing from those lovely drafts, darn it. I think he appears quite charming in the drafts; everyone’s picture of the young impoverished actor.
      Can’t wait to see the Countess’s results on the Huxley/Ouida Jr. research!

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      • So far it’s all I have found. I can”t say she did”nt stay with Ouida and Basil..Just that she wasnt liveing with them when the 1930,&1940 cencus was taken,and her birth date is most likely June 19,1919.And she visited England in 1939.Age 21..basicly that would corospond with doing “the grand tour” a lot of just of age girls did that..purely guessing on my part.It does seem rather close to the start of the war,for a young girl to be traveling around England. By the 40 cencus shes back in Dalas with her family and a receptions at a helth center.Perhaps Basil and Ouida paid for the trip.How much money could a receptionest be making?Shes also been to collage or is going at the time. i’m just amazed at how much back-and-forth The Rathbones seem to do acrost the sea..

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        • Really helpful, Countess. Do you have links to the 1939 England trip? Do you know when she married Huxley? Thanks so much for all your effort! It’s fantastic.

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          • Ouida + Huxley here http://www.stanford.edu/group/auden/cgi-bin/auden/individual.php?pid=I7769&ged=auden-bicknell.ged
            The 1939 trip,no it’s on ancestory.com I dont think you can link to them they have more blockers then the Dallas Cowboys.Next time I can get to the Lib. I’ll see if I can photo copy.They totaly frown on it because 1. they dont want to be bothered about helping you. and 2.there parionid abot copyright infringment.I once here a little boy ask one of the libarians to help him download a song…we all got lectured and chewed pout about how he was a thife and the lib. would be held acountable..and yatda tatda…

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  11. Lourdes says

    I think this is Basil Rathbone as a portrait, but ti doesn’t mean the things he is doing are things Basil did. It’s fiction after all.

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  12. Levasseur Fan says

    Well, I hope it is Basil, because St. John is gooooooooorgeous and sexy and vulnerable and just lovely.

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  13. Leonie says

    I read the finished Antic Hay and all I can say is I wish he’d kept St. John in it, was he removed because of the predatory homosexual overtones of the fat man’s pursuit of him?

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  14. Oh but she did do 1 good thing for me. One of the sites on her led me to the info, that Ouida jr. DID indeed marrie David Burce Huxley,as his 2nd wife. They had no kids and the wedding took place in the 1960s. they lived in England and David is Adolphs’s 1/2 bro. I found a few pics of David. But try as I might I coulnt find any photos of Ouida Jr.Also I did find her in the 1930 cencus.Living with her mom and lil sis, in Texas. I have been holding off posting that like I promised to do, for several personal reasons. Mainly that I seem to have miss placed the paper I copied the info down on. Altho I can tell you from memory some of it I’d rather wait till tomorrow and get it recopied correctly. Also I had a friend die last Sun and last week was,well,not good.

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    • Countess – I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Hope you and the family are doing ok. Don’t feel under *any* pressure to do research. It’s really wonderful and helpful, but you’re doing it in your own time and it can wait until you’re in a place to do it. You just take care of yourself and thing that matter.

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  15. IMHO. Nothing I read and I did read about 6 sites last night,on Nancy Cunard and the Huxley family. Nothing I read on her sounded to me to be at all like kitten,nothing at all sound “soft” or “sweet” of even vaugely vulnerable. Nor is she in my opnion pretty. All the pics I saw [and if you google immages her by name you’ll get about 1/2 mill of them] reminded me of “Olive Oil”. and from all the impresions i got while reading about her I came up with a disreptubal socity chik with too many “causes” and too few morals.

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    • Who told you that? I’m not saying it’s not true only I got his book for Christmas and I’m reading it now and it really doesnt look like she wasnt his lover because like she invites him up to her apartment and it’s kind of obvious though he doesnt say anything direct.

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      • roesbette says

        I agree, Amy. I just finished his book, and it’s pretty clear that “Kitten” asks him to come up and spend the night.

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  16. roesbette says

    I think that possibly this portrait is a composite of Basil and someone else. I can’t quite see Basil getting in such trouble that he would end up in prison. However, it’s very possible that Basil was a sort of “lost soul” after the war (as were many men post WWI), which he even admits in his autobiography. I wonder if a tendency toward incipient alcoholism and drifting in and out of relationships were what Basil was talking about in that quote from the actress in the earlier post, who claimed he said Ouida “saved his life.” I don’t quite see Myra as “Kitten”; my impression of “Kitten” is someone soft and vulnerable, a sexy “light of love.” Myra/Cunard sounds more like a society woman to be reckoned with.

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    • Anita says

      I agree, you can’t make much connection between Myra and Kitten apart from the blue eyes, which isn’t much

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  17. Kendrick says

    I don’t see Basil anywhere in this.I can’t see him hanging out with bohemians or letting himself be compromized by pederasts. I always picture him as a perfect English gentleman. He would have had his club and his gentleman friends, like Peter Wimsey. He was conservative and very moral as a man.

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    • Monica says

      That’s the BR of your mind, the real BR is only a little bit like this and mostly as an older man.

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    • Edmund Goulding's BB says

      Have you read Basil’s autobiography? He’s very oblique and reticent, and yes gentlemanly, and he avoids ever being gossipy or kiss-and-tell, but it’s pretty obvious he was leading a very bohemian lifestyle for a time in the 1920’s.

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      • Kendrick says

        I read his book ten years ago and have now lost my copy, so my memory is not clear. If that’s true then I’ve misremembered, but I am also partly going on things Alyssia has said, who tells me she has direct information.

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      • Nice find –

        Nancy Cunard:
        “She was tall and slim and fair-haired, with long legs, white skin and large, translucent blue-green eyes; never exactly pretty, or classically beautiful like her childhood friend Lady Diana Cooper, she soon learned how to dramatise her appearance and create her own high bohemian style.”

        Kitten:
        Well, all we know is she looked like “Marie”, and Marie was “gentle, wide-eyed and sweet”, and had “artful blue eyes.”

        As Grand Old Movies says, not sure if the word “gentle” would be in the Nancy Cunard lexicon, but both Cunard and “Kitten” did have striking, wide, blue eyes. And he did meet “Kitten” at a high society party. Did Cunard tend to sleep all day and be up all night, like Kitten?

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          • roesbette says

            “Kitten” was a woman he met at a party with whom he had a relationship. This is while he was a young actor in London, post WWI, pre-Ouida. He describes her a “purring” and liking to stay up all night.

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  18. Nancy Cunard was a fascinating, unconventional personality of the 1920s-30s, one of the Bright Young Things who set trends and created scandals. She was a poet and world-travelling journalist and later became involved in civil rights and anti-fascist activities. If I recall correctly, the character of Iris March in the novel “The Green Hat” may have been based on her. Huxley based several characters in his novels on her (apparently she broke his heart during their affair). She’s well worth looking into, though I don’t think she has a connection with Rathbone. Somehow I can’t think of Cunard as a “kitten” – “lioness” might be a better term.

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    • Claude Rains says

      I tend to agree, though on re-reading Rathbone’s description of “Kitten” it only refers to her habit of “purring” and doesn’t seem to imply a sweet or gentle disposition.

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  19. Judy D. says

    Few weeks ago, after the earlier Huxley post, I checked out the local library for his books. Nothing!! This book I would really love to read. It does sound very much like Basil, parring with a man of power who if gay would consider him a lovely conquest. I once read that it was typical in English theater (pardon, theatre) for an established star to take on as a prodigy some accommodating young chap.
    Can’t find my way around this site anymore! But–as to Cynthia, is it possible she was born, or adopted, in England? Anyone snooping around Somerset House for records?
    As to Nigel and Baz parting company when Baz refused more Holmes roles, this probably had a big effect on Nigel’s wallet, and he was willing to sign up for another year of radio with a different Holmes. It may not have been a long-lasting rift, before Nigel’s death.
    As to Basil being at his sexiest as Holmes: I know he grew to hate the role and be totally bored with it, but I would have loved to sit him down and explain how much entertainment he gave people of all ages with the role during the terrible war years, and how he should have been placed in many roles where he played the same sort of strong, upright, intelligent, honest character, but with more dimensional scripts. Perhaps the role wasn’t much like the real man and so he didn’t see it that way, and of course the larger studios had plenty of American guys to fill those types of roles. And he had that British stiffness. What a frigging shame.
    Anyone out there remember seeing him in any of his more successful stage performances?

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    • About finding your way round the site – the “categories” tab on the right is a sort of index and it helps you find old posts. There’s also a “search” option above it, it’s kind of murky and easy to miss, but it’s there 🙂

      We had someone post here a while back who had an elderly friend who’d seen B in Romeo and Juliet in 1934, hopefully she will return with more info.

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    • Judy, if you were thinking Somerset house still houses the NRA they apperantly dont. I found a link to NRA[thats The National Archives and Records office] http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/default.htm Im still trying to make it work. I searched one section under Basils name came up with only 1 thing,that some libary in NY had some corospondence from him to Kat Cornell.So I searched Rathbone in general. I had a lot of hits all led to links that led right back in a cricle..GRRRRR! See Index etc.See holdings of some dang place or another must go in person..right! phooyJust about as frusterating as trying to find some one in the PRO. If you DO find them besuer to hop a plane and pop right over her to search inperson..

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      • Be carefull with that link there i posted folks. It seems that you could run up a bill if you click on the wrong thing..be aware. Also i’m not sure what credits and charges are about. Also some of the links lead to off site pay for view sites. Word to the wise, tread carefully..it might be a minefield.

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