James Lees-Milne

Author(s): Michael Bloch

Miscellaneous

James Lees-Milne (1908--97) -- known to friends as Jim -- is remembered for his work for the National Trust, rescuing some of England's greatest architectural treasures, and for the vivid and entertaining diaries which have earned him a reputation as 'the twentieth-century Pepys'. In this long-awaited biography, Michael Bloch portrays a life rich in contradictions, in which an unassuming youth overtook more dazzling contemporaries to emerge as a leading figure in the fields of conservation and letters. It describes Jim's bisexual love life, his tempestuous marriage to the exotic Alvilde, and his friendship with other fascinating literary figures including John Betjeman, Robert Byron, Rosamond Lehmann, and the Mitford sisters (whose brother Tom had been Jim's great love at Eton). It depicts a man who was romantically attached to the England of his childhood and felt out of tune with his own times, but who left an enduring legacy through the preservation of country houses and his eloquent chronicling of a dying world.

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'Admirably crisp, brisk and comprehensive' -- The Sunday Times (Culture), Peter Kemp 'Full of sex, scandal and name-dropping, this biography does justice to James Lees-Milne' -- The Observer, Oliver Marre 'Very funny indeed' -- The Independent on Sunday, DJ Taylor 'If he does not sweep us up the whole length of the drive with his passionate intensity, he succeeds in dropping us off safely at the gates of a minor, but convincing, national treasure' -- The Telegraph Review, Nicholas Shakespeare 'Funny, observant and revealing' -- The Scotsman, David Sexton 'Fascinating new biography' -- Daily Mail '...a remarkable study, a striking three-dimensional portrait of a subversive, sensitive and endearing man...' -- Selina Hastings, Sunday Telegraph 'Bloch has produced the perfect compliment to Lees-Milne's books and fully justified his mentor's faith' -- Evening Standard, David Sexton 'Michael Bloch has resisted writing a pompous, laborious tombstone of a book about this long, busy, well-documented life. His biography is disciplined, compact, elegant and tender...' -- Richard Davenport-Hines, Times Literary Supplement 'Total candour and integrity. This is an absolutely model biography' -- A. N. Wilson, Country Life 'This book has been eagerly awaited by addicts of James Lees-Milne's diaries, and they will not be disappointed. It is as perfect a biography as it is possible to imagine... It is not merely a rehash of the diaries, but brings to life the mercurial and delicate intelligence that brought them into being' -- A. N. Wilson, Country Life '...a pleasing, rounded picture of the upper-class muddler who was the greatest English diarist of the twentieth century... 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 circumstances out of which this complicated, elusive but attractive personality evolved towards late-flowering celebrity' -- Rosemary Hill, London Review of Books "Although Lees-Milne wrote so much about himself, Michael Bloch's admirable biography has nothing of deja vu about it. He has done his old friend proud" -- The Literary Review, Jeremy Lewis 'This book is so well-written you can actually imagine what it's like to be duiaryist James Lees-Milne ... a brilliant insight into another world' -- News of the World 'This final assortment of journals reaffirms Lees-Milne's reputation as one of the 20th century's greatest diarists' -- Daily Express 'I much enjoy his waspish asides and his frank self- knowledge' -- Telegraph 'This book is so well-written you can actually imagine what it's like to be diarist James Lees-Milne ...a brilliant insight into another world.' -- News of the World 'An admirable biography. Bloch has written Lees-Milne's life in a way that honours its subject: funny, observant and revealing ... the perfect complement to the diaries' -- David Sexton, Evening Standard 'Bloch has dug deep and told all about his indiscreet, emotional, wrongheaded, infuriating, yet curiously disarming subject... The result is an absorbing and faintly disquieting example of the contemporary biographer's art' -- Anne Chisholm, The Spectator 20091003 'The writer's affection and understanding has resulted in a remarkable study, a striking three-dimensional portrait of a subversive, sensitive and endearing man. Naturally, Bloch has made good use of the diaries, but he has gone far beyond them, investigating the long periods when nothing was written as well as uncovering an intriguing and recurrent thread of fantasy... James Lees-Milne: The Life is an exceptional biography: lively, perceptive and well-written... The diaries will never be superseded, but this book is their essential companion' -- Telegraph Seven 20090927 'His vivid and sparkling biography...an accomplished and confident account...admirable,' -- The Herald 20090926 "A joy to read' -- Evening Chronicle, Anthony Looch 20090926 'Superbly written and enormously entertaining...' -- Oxford Times 20090926 'This is a sensitive and nuanced account of his life' -- The Week 20090926 'This book presents a frank and sympathetic portrait' -- Leicester Mercury 20090926 'A frank and sympathetic portrait' -- Western Mail / East Anglian Daily Times 20090926 'A frank and sympathetic portrait...9/10' -- Edinburgh Evening News 20090912 'A rich social history and a warm picture of a man particular to his time' -- Country & Town House 20090912 "Michael Bloch has served his old friend well...a book every bit as well written and entertaining as the diaries" -- Irish Times 20090912 "Frank and sympathetic portrait of a complex, cultured and loveable man, whose fame grew as he aged" -- Eastern Daily Press 20090912 'Admirably judged; warm, but not hagiographical; sufficiently candid, and acutely revealing...the subject and the author are here perfectly matched' -- The Observer 20090912 'A unique insight into the workings of our charity in its early days... and more' -- National Trust Magazine 20090912

Michael Bloch read law at St John's College, Cambridge, and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. Appointed James Lees-Milne's literary executor in 1997, he edited the final five volumes of the complete diary and most recently has edited and introduced the three abridged volumes.

General Fields

  • : 9780719560347
  • : John Murray
  • : John Murray
  • : 0.78
  • : September 2009
  • : 242mm X 161mm X 37mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Michael Bloch
  • : Hardback
  • : 1
  • : English
  • : 828.91409
  • : very good
  • : 416
  • : illustrations