All posts filed under: BOOKS

Auction Madness…

Slightly less than two years after the reading at the White House, Rathbone contacted the auctioneer/”entrepreneur and graphologist,” Charles Hamilton, with the purpose of selling the three letters Jackie Kennedy had written him. In his book AUCTION MADNESS, Hamilton preserved his recollections of that meeting, and the the press furore that followed the auctioning of the letters…

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“the white flame of his creative genius”

Our frequent commenter known to us as “Basil” or “Mikufan” has sent me some great high res photos of the poetry book she has that was bought originally from Rathbone’s estate. So here they are. The book, THE DEATHLESS FLOWER was apparently given to Rathbone by the author herself. And the dedication reads “to Basil Rathbone who leaves the white flame of his creative genius burning in the memory of his listeners“. The author’s name is Ida Elaine James. So if anyone knows or can discover anything more about this lady, if she was a friend of Rathbone’s or if he just liked her work, let me know. Of additional interest is the fact that someone – very likely Basil – has underlined certain passages from the poems in pencil, as you’ll see in the scans below. Much thanks to “Basil” (and her dad) for going to the trouble of photographing and uploading these. Alyssia might want to take note of how it’s done. 🙂

IN & OUT OF CHARACTER: an attempt at analysis Part III

I think all the oddness of everything we have read between the leaves of IN & OUT OF CHARACTER pales to nothing beside the extract I’m sharing with you today: “…[Ouida]was both my secretary and my banker; and it was certainly not her fault that on two consecutive weeks in Texas my week’s salary was stolen, putting a considerable crimp in Ouida’s well-thought-out and carefully guarded budget. On the first occasion our hotel suite was entered in the dead of night and my week’s salary stolen, while Ouida and I and Moritz all slept soundly! This was unquestionably an inside job. The following week was on her way to the post office – my salary was in her handbag. She stopped at the hotel newsstand and put her bag don as she turned over the pages of the latest Vogue or Vanity Fair. In a flash a hand grabbed her bag and as she turned and shouted “stop that man,” he was through the revolving doors and out into the street. This moment of the …

IN & OUT OF CHARACTER: an attempt at analysis Part II

The second part of this series is going to look a bit more closely at the claim that portions of this book, maybe even the majority of it, were written, not by Rathbone, but by Ouida Bergere, his somewhat “controversial” second wife. The claim was actually made to me quite recently in an email from a reader who has provided pretty good evidence of having known the Rathbone family fairly well (I don’t want to say any more about this at present as I believe this person is not keen on being publicly identified). This is what she said to me: “By the way, Basil didn’t write In An Out of Character. According to his son Rodion, most of it was concocted by Ouida. I’ve read Basil’s letters and know his writing style and believe me, she wrote that book. He only gave her a few details and she heavily embroidered the rest…” It certainly wouldn’t seem out of character for the second Mrs Rathbone to have felt compelled to meddle in the creation of …

IN & OUT OF CHARACTER: an attempt at analysis Part I

The first part of my thesis is an analysis of certain chapters or portions of Basil’s autobiography IN AND OUT OF CHARACTER, and I’m going to be posting the analysis on the blog over the next few weeks. Rosemarie’s overview is very good, and I would have to agree with almost all of it, which is why I posted it as a sort of kick-off point. Here I’m going to start digging more into the detail of what he says, and what he might reveal – intentionally and unintentionally – about himself, his life and his reasons fro writing the book. So, let’s take the King of Hearts’ advice and begin at the beginning – with his Preface. I agree with Rosemarie that it’s actually really interesting, and possibly, in its way, the most revealing portion of the entire book Here it is in full except for the last para: “I have heard it said that if one writes a book in which one’s thoughts and experiences play a major role, it is no good …

IN & OUT OF CHARACTER – guest post by Rosemarie

Thoughts on In & Out of Character – by Rosemarie I finally received my “Bible” for Christmas, BR’s own In and Out of Character, which in literary terms is more of a memoir than a true autobiography. In the past, I’ve only read snippets here and there from searching the book in amazon, or quoted on this site or on basilrathbone.net. I must admit that reading it from cover-to-cover gives me new insight. While Basil’s bio is not completely “factual,” I believe it is honest in what it reveals about him and Ouida. I think he did truly love her, whatever her foibles. As a teacher of writing and literature, I think the preface one of the most important parts of the book. He begins by dismissing any ideas that he is going to reveal anything damaging about the people he loves, perhaps already putting aside the speculations and criticisms of any who knew him well and knew about any of the inadequacies of the marriage. According to the section where he describes meeting Ouida, …

Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay

You 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 …

Watchman, What of the Night?

I’ve been  preparing for this blog for a while, asking friends and collectors for tidbits and morsels, doing a lot of web exploring, which can occasionally bring up nicely unexpected things. And just today I found one. A little book written by Jed Harris, Broadway producer/director, called Watchman, What of the Night?. I’ve linked to a pdf file, but  at Archive.org  the text is available in various formats, including a Kindle version. The book is notable for fans of the Baz because it’s all about the struggle (and such it really seems to have been) to get The Heiress onto Broadway for its first outing in 1947. The whole book is interesting but there’s one passage that’s just pure gold for Rathbone-admirers or would-be biographers, so I’m going to quote it in full. But first a little background on Harris, taken from the book’s flyleaf: “A producer-director whose name is synonymous with perfection in the legitimate theatre tells the story of an Opening Night. When Henry James’sWashington Square was first made into a play, it died a …