T.H. White: A Biography by Sylvia Townsend Warner

T.H. White: A Biography

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When T.H. White was photographed at the opening of the musical Camelot adapted from his Arthurian cycle The Once and Future King, the tall, handsome, snowy-bearded man seemed the very image of the way an outdoorsy English storyteller ought to look. His first biographer since his death in 1964 won't be his last by a long shot. Her cool but kindly surface report on the outward life, events and people in reclusive White's career is a friendly literary memorial to the man she corresponded with but never met. She barely lifts the lid on what the psychoanalytic school of biographers will be anxious to invade and White left more diaries than she quoted from here. White's parents behaved like classic cases from Freud's textbook and White developed a Krafft-Ebing taste in sex, believing himself to be a sadistic homosexual, fearful of women and drawn toward young boys. Such revelations invariably rattle the chains of national media reviewers, so expect comment out of all proportion to the amount of discussion Miss Warner actually gives over to this. Solitary, egoistic, an alcoholic with urges toward reform, self-removed from complex society to isolated villages from before WWII, substituting normal emotional attachments with an insistently paraded devotion to his dog, kind to small children and the afflicted, silly in affluence, a serious craftsman in an under-regarded form--Miss Warner's biography is an admirable attempt to show all sides of the strange, contradictory man behind those attractive photographs and the book is consistently interesting.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1967
Publisher: Viking