Honorary Fellow Hilary Spurling’s new biography of Anthony Powell, Dancing to the Music of Time, will be this week’s Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4, starting today at 1.45 p.m.
Hilary Spurling will speak on ‘Anthony Powell: Truth and Lies’ to Somerville London Group on Tuesday 6 February 2018 at the Oxford and Cambridge Club (more details on our Events page in due course).
Spurling came up to Somerville in 1959 to read English. After a period as a theatre critic, she became Literary Editor at the Spectator. Her first Biography, of Ivy Compton Burnett, won the Rose Mary Crawshaw Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. She went on to win the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for her biography of Pearl Buck and the 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year for Matisse the Master.
Spurling’s biography of Powell is born of a long friendship with the novelist, and of her earlier A Handbook to Anthony Powell’s Music of Time, a detailed index and guide to his 12-volume A Dance to the Music of Time. It was agreed before Powell’s death that Spurling would write his biography. Reviewers have praised her depth of understanding, both of Powell himself and of his social milieu and approach to writing. This is the first full-scale life of Powell, and Spurling’s familiarity with him, his work and those he knew brings to life a world that is now, for many readers, a curiosity of history. The Guardian has called Dancing to the Music of Time ‘a compelling portrait of a lost Englishman’.