Roy Campbell (190257) led an unquiet life marked by numerous affairs (both real and imagined), brawls (he once attacked Stephen Spender on stage during a poetry recital), and curious stunts (with the help of Dylan Thomas, he once ate a vase of daffodils in celebration of St. David’s Day). It was also marked by numerous controversies, especially Campbell’s running feud with Virginia Woolf and her Bloomsbury group of intellectuals, about whom he remarked in "The Georgiad": "Hither flock all the crowds whom love has wrecked / Of intellectuals without intellect / And sexless folk whose sexes intersect...."
Acknowledged as one of the finest poets of his generation after the publication of his long poem The Flaming Terrapin
, Campbell came to prominence in the 1920s when he captured the imagination of the English intelligentsia with his romantic background and controversial style. Pearce’s vivid biography centers on Campbell’s ongoing feud with the Bloomsbury group and the ideas they championed, the
friendships Campbell forged with figures such as C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, and the Sitwells, and Roy and his wife Mary’s reception into the Catholic Church. Campbell’s literary relationships and wonderfully romantic life is, thus, the context for this riveting account of Campbell’s reckless life and the fascinating poetry that was left behind. That poetry, in the judgment of Pearce, was "both perplexing and challengingyet no more so than the poet himself." Both Roy Campbell the man and his poetry richly deserve the engrossing reappraisal offered here by acclaimed biographer Joseph Pearce.
What They're Saying...
"This [is] a rich, sympathetic, and engrossing book. It shows [Campbell] as a poet of beauty and resonance, and an oddly vulnerable man who lived sometimes badly but usually with gusto and always from the heart."
— Financial Times
"Significantly, a subtitle of this fascinating biography is Friends and Enemies, and Campbell clearly had a genius for making both. . . . Joseph Pearce, while deploring Campbell's sometimes self-defeating intemperance . . . presents him as a gentle, enthusiastic, life-loving, private man."
— The Spectator
"[A] definitive biography for those seeking acquaintance with a neglected poet and incisive observer of a turbulent era."
— Thomas Dineen, The American Conservative