Selina Hastings rss

Lake Lucerne Photo: Davide Seddo/Getty

The nervous passenger who became one of our great travel writers

12 July 2014
Pleasures and Landscapes Sybille Bedford

Daunt Books, pp.176, £9.99, ISBN: 9781907970405

Sybille Bedford all her life was a keen and courageous traveller. Restless, curious, intellectually alert, she was always ready to explore new territories, her experiences recounted in a sophisticated style… Read more

Portrait of Sheila by Cecil Beaton

Australia's entrancing Sheila

1 February 2014
Sheila: The Australian Ingenue Who Bewitched British Society Robert Wainwright

Allen and Unwin, pp.410, £14.99, ISBN: 9781743316825

The ‘dollar princesses’, those American heiresses who crossed the Atlantic in search of a titled husband, are familiar figures from the 19th and early 20th century. Less well known are… Read more

Stage Blood, by Michael Blakemore - review

21 September 2013
Stage Blood: Five Tempestuous Years in the Early Life of the National Theatre Michael Blakemore

Faber, pp.359, £20, ISBN: 9780571241378

Stage Blood, as its title suggests, is as full of vitriol, back-stabbing and conspiracy as any Jacobean tragedy. In this sequel to Arguments with England, his superb first volume of… Read more

Marguerite Alibert: very sexy and utterly loathsome

'The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder', by Andrew Rose - review

13 April 2013
The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder Andrew Rose

Coronet, pp.400, £20, ISBN: 9781444776454

In April 1917 Edward, Prince of Wales, at a luncheon at the Crillon Hotel in Paris, had the misfortune to meet the very sexy and utterly loathsome Marguerite Alibert. A… Read more

Friends across the sea

17 December 2011
The Acceptance of Absurdity edited by John Saumarez Smith and Jonathan Kooperstein

Maggs Brothers, pp.126, 25

On 12 February 1952 the novelist Anthony Powell received a letter from a bookseller in New York. Robert Vanderbilt Jr was the proprietor of a couple of Manhattan bookstores and… Read more

House of memories

2 September 2009

Selina Hastings recalls her visit in 1989 to Lady Beauchamp, mistress of Madresfield Madresfield: the name is now almost as lustrous with literary association as Little Gidding or Adlestrop. To… Read more

Mixing memory with desire

26 August 2009
Outside of a Dog: A Bibliomemoir Rick Gekoski

Constable, pp.286, 14.99

Rick Gekoski is an expatriate American, long established as one of the leading antiquarian book-dealers in Britain. As one might expect, books have been his passion for as long as… Read more

Friends and enemies

12 December 2008
The Pursuit of Laughter: Essays, Articles and Reviews Diana Mitford, edited by Deborah Devonshire

Gibson Square, pp.416, 20

The Pursuit of Laughter: Essays, Articles and Reviews, by Diana Mitford, edited by Deborah Devonshire Nancy was the only one of the six Mitford sisters who, throughout her life, bitterly… Read more


The triumph of hope over experience

24 October 2007
As I Was Going to St Ives: A Life of Derek Jackson Simon Courtauld

Michael Russell, pp.192, 17.50

Derek Jackson was one of the most distinguished scientists of the previous century, whose work in atomic spectroscopy contributed significantly to British success in aerial warfare. Throughout his life Jackson… Read more

For richer, for richer

3 October 2007
Horses & Husbands: The Memoirs of Etti Plesch Hugo Vickers

Dovecote Press, pp.205, 17.95

In her introduction to this extraordinary memoir, Etti Plesch warns the reader that the life she is about to describe will seem unfashionable as it contains no ‘stories of great… Read more

The battle of the books

5 October 2006
A Spy in the Bookshop: Letters between Heywood Hill and John Saumarez Smith, 1966-1974 edited by John Saumarez Smith

Frances Lincoln, pp.176, 12.99

B y now Heywood Hill’s bookshop in Curzon Street must be almost as famous as 84 Charing Cross Road. Opened in 1936, the shop first became familiar through the lively… Read more

Unfaltering to the end

29 October 2005
The Milk of Paradise: Diaries 1993-1997 James Lees-Milne, edited by Michael Bloch

John Murray, pp.319, 25

While staying at Chatsworth for Christmas 1994, James Lees-Milne records an exchange with his old friend, Patrick Leigh Fermor, on the subject of keeping a diary. Leigh Fermor regrets not… Read more