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.
About The Author
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.
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
Total candour and integrity. This is an absolutely model biography - Country Life (A.N Wilson)
' Michael Bloch s admirable biography has nothing of deja vu about it. He has done his old friend proud ' - The Literary Review (Jeremy Lewis)
'His biography is disciplined, compact, elegant and tender, and equally illuminating, suggestive and commodius abouit all the compartmentalized little platoons that Lees-Milne served, - Richard Davenport-Hines, Time Literary Supplement
His vivid and sparkling biography...an accomplished and confident account...admirable, - Mathew Dennison, The Herald
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, Block 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, - Mark Sanderson, Telegraph, Seven
Admirably crisp and comprehensive l