Monday, April 09, 2007

Elinor Glyn

Continuing the grand purge on my work room, at the weekend I spent half an hour removing rusty staples from print-outs of articles read online in 1998.

I used to print out a lot more often in those days. The result was half a box of Croxley Script A4 typing paper, one side of each sheet reusable for drafts.

Some of the print-outs I'm keeping. For example The Times obituary of Sir Anthony Glyn, Bt, the author who died at his home in the South of France on 20 January 1998, aged 75.

The obit began – "In his novel The Dragon Variation, published in 1969, Anthony Glyn was widely regarded as having made the game of chess a subject for literary drama as no novelist had done before him. Less delicately put, Glyn's book made "chess sound like the most exciting thing since bullfighting" – the verdict of The Times of the day. Even Vladmir Nabokov's The Luzhin Defence of 1929, until then thought of as supreme among chess novels., was acknowledged as having been surpassed."

Anthony Glyn's obit is now tucked between the pages of my copy of his biography of his maternal grandmother, the novelist Elinor Glyn, "a fiery-haired Edwardian beauty who sprawled in sin-tight silks on tiger skin rugs. She coined the usage of the word "It" for sex appeal, wrote torridly shocking novels and inspired the lines :

Would you like to sin with Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
To err with her
On some other fur?"

My copy of the biography has a Boots Booklovers Library stamp on the front. It was published by Hutchinson in July 1955 and reprinted in August and September that year. So my guess is that I bought it, for three shillings, from the London Street branch of Boots in Norwich where we lived in the late Fifties. In those days Boots had a popular lending library and periodically sold off books to make room for new titles.

"Elinor Glyn was born on the English Channel island of Jersey. Following the death of her father, her mother returned to the parental home in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Here Elinor was schooled by her grandmother (a minor French aristocrat) in the ways of upper-class society. This training not only gave her an entrée into aristocratic circles on her return to Europe, but it led her to be considered an authority on style and breeding when she worked in Hollywood in the 1920s.
She was the celebrated author of such early 20th century bestsellers as It, Three Weeks, Beyond the Rocks, and other novels which were then considered quite racy, as tame as they might seem now. Glyn was also the younger sister of Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, famous as the fashion designer "Lucile". She [Elinor G] had a long lasting affair between 1906 and 1916 with George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston."

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