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Hartley, L(eslie) P(oles)

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(British, 1895–1972)

Born in Cambridgeshire, educated at Harrow and Oxford, Hartley served in the First World War, after which he became a critic and writer, publishing short stories and a novella besides his novels. Begin with the trilogy, The Shrimp and the Anemone (1944), The Sixth Heaven (1946), and the title volume, Eustace and Hilda (1947), for which Hartley was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. These sensitively written novels chart the complicated relationship of the central character, Eustace, and his sister, Hilda, moving through the intensities of his childhood in Norfolk, undergraduate years at Oxford, and life on the Continent. Go on to read Hartley's highly acclaimed The Go-Between (1953). It is narrated by Leo who, in his sixties, discovers his boyhood diary of 1900, revealing how he was the innocent ‘go-between’ at his friend's Norfolk country house, carrying letters between his friend's sister and her lover, a farmer. A compelling story unfolds of a boy's sexual awareness, and how he is affected by what he learns during that hot summer, which changes his life, destroying his beliefs and hopes. Imbued with the atmosphere of Edwardian England and an undercurrent of class tensions, it captures a vanished age. ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’—is the famous opening of this classic. Then read The Hireling (1957), in lighter vein but again concerning class taboos, the relationship of Lady Franklin and her chauffeur.

Henry James, E. M. Forster, D. H. Lawrence  GC

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