Simon Callow is an English actor and director who has written about Orson Welles, Charles Dickens, Charles Laughton, and Oscar Wilde. His latest book, Being Wagner: The Story of the Most Provocative Composer Who Ever Lived, is out in paperback. (September 2018)
The Luck of Friendship: The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin
edited by Peggy L. Fox and Thomas Keith
The Luck of Friendship: The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin (“Four Decades of One of the Most Unlikely Friendships in American Literature,” as Peggy L. Fox’s introduction splendidly puts it) is a most welcome addition, not simply because Williams was a world-class correspondent, but because it reveals an aspect of him that is rarely examined: his life as a working writer. Moreover, his epistolary partner, the publisher James Laughlin, was, in his very different way, also a titan—an unusually quiet one, to be sure, but unquestionably one of the central figures of American letters of the last century.
Various Irish notables have recently been put on trial in a sparky series of books published by the Royal Irish Academy under its Prism imprint: so far we have had Judging Dev, Judging Cosgrave, and Judging Redmond and Carson. Now it is George Bernard Shaw’s turn in the dock. He …
It is hard to find anyone under fifty who has the slightest idea who Paul Robeson is, or what he was, which is astonishing—as a singer, of course, and as an actor, his work is of the highest order. But his significance as an emblematic figure is even greater, crucial to an understanding of the American twentieth century.