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The three compulsions of Driberg's hard-working, improbable life--""'deviant' sex, 'exotic' religion--and Left-wing politics""--may seem a curious mix, but they're just the thing for someone who loathed British middle-class families as venomously as Driberg did. After escaping his own--he was the son of aging Anglo-Indian civil servants--and mucking about at Oxford with Auden and Graves, Driberg was taken up by the Daily Express, then the mouthpiece of the titanic Lord Beaverbrook. There, under the name of William Hickey, he became a celebrated columnist in the 1930s and early '40s, transforming gossip into social criticism, writing from the coal fields of Wales, from the Spanish Front, and from America as well as in bombed and blitzed London. Astoundingly, his homosexual passions never took a back seat through any of this, and his tastes ran to handsome proletarians and quickie lavatory encounters, discussed here with sparkle and much glee. Though there were one or two close calls with the law, Driberg kept up his amours after 1942 when he entered Parliament as a Left Independent. His politics--not obtrusive--progress from ardent Stalinism to eclectic Labour skepticism but it is his literary talents, as well as a passionate disdain for racial and class bigotry, that make him the delightful commentator he is. Though American audiences may find both his politics and sensibilities eccentrically British, those who remember the War in British perspective could have no more likable companion.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1978
Publisher: Stein & Day