Refractions by Harry Levin

Trials of the Word by R.W.B. Lewis

Writers and Politics by Conor Cruise O'Brien

King for a Day

The Abdication of King Edward VIII by Lord Beaverbrook, edited by A.J.P. Taylor

Abdication by Brian Inglis


Noel Annan (1916–2000) was a British military intelligence officer and scholar of European history. His works include Leslie Stephen and Our Age, Changing Enemies: The Defeat and Regeneration of Germany, and The Curious Strength of Positivism in English Political Thought.

Sybille Bedford (1911–2006) was born Sybille von Schoenebeck in Charlottenburg, Germany, to an aristocratic German father and a partly Jewish, British-born mother. Raised variously in Germany, Italy, France, and England, she lived with her mother and Italian stepfather after her father’s death when she was seven, and was educated privately. Encouraged by Aldous Huxley, Bedford began writing fiction at the age of sixteen and went on to publish four novels, all influenced by her itinerant childhood among the European aristocracy: A Legacy (1956), A Favourite of the Gods (1963), A Compass Error (1968), and Jigsaw (1989, short-listed for the Booker Prize). She married Walter Bedford in 1935 and lived briefly in America during World War II, before returning to England. She was a prolific travel writer, the author of a two-volume biography of her friend Aldous Huxley, and a legal journalist, covering nearly one hundred trials. In 1981 she was awarded the Order of the British Empire.

Marius Bewley (1916–1973) was a British-American literary critic. Educated at Cambridge, Bewley taught English literature at Rutgers and was an advisory editor atThe Hudson Review.

Richard Ellmann (1918–1987) was an American critic and biographer. He taught at Northwestern, Oxford and Emory, where he was named Robert W. Professor in 1980. He won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for James Joycein 1959; a revised edition was awarded the James Tate Black Memorial Prize in 1982.

D.J. Enright (1920–2002) was a British poet, novelist and critic. He held teaching positions in Egypt, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and the United Kingdom. In 1981 Enright was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Dwight Macdonald (1906–1982) was born in New York City and educated at Exeter and Yale. On graduating from college, he enrolled in Macy’s executive training program, but soon left to work for Henry Luce at Time and Fortune, quitting in 1936 because of cuts that had been made to an article he had written criticizing U.S. Steel. From 1937 to 1943, Macdonald was an editor of Partisan Review and in 1944, he started a journal of his own, Politics, whose contributors included Albert Camus, Victor Serge, Simone Weil, Bruno Bettelheim, James Agee, John Berryman, Meyer Schapiro, and Mary McCarthy. In later years, Macdonald reviewed books for The New Yorker, movies for Esquire, and wrote frequently for The New York Review of Books.

Robert Mazzocco is an American poet and critic.

James Merrill (1926–1995) was an American poet whose major work The Changing Light at Sandover describes a series of spirit communications conducted over many years. He won the National Book Award from his collections Nights and Days and Mirabell: Books of Number.

Meyer Schapiro, who died in 1996, taught for many years at Columbia. He was one of the most influential art historians of the last century and a contributor to The New York Review. Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks, in which the letters in this issue appear, will be published in January by Getty. (December 2008)