James Lees-Milne

Rosemary Hill writes:

Michael Bloch, who knew his subject well for many years, is a tactful, sensitive but not an indulgent biographer. His book conveys the contradictions of character and circumstance out of which this complicated, elusive but attractive personality evolved towards late-flowering celebrity. In one of Lees-Milne’s regular pessimistic self-assessments, amid laments about his loss of hair and declining libido at 40, he noted that despite it all his mental faculties, ‘never first-rate, are better than they have ever been’. ‘All my life,’ he adds, ‘I have been a slow developer.’ It is a verdict that Bloch seems to endorse but the impression from the biography is not so much that Lees-Milne was slow, as that he had a lot of ground to cover to get from where he started to somewhere he wanted to be. To the very end he seems to have been unsure that he had arrived.

(LRB 10 September 2009)

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