Friday, August 11, 2006

The Devine Harriet

One of the pleasures of being a toiler in the groves of academe is that you get to work alongside some truly remarkable people. One such is my colleague Harriet Devine. Harriet's academic reputation rests on her work on eighteenth and nineteenth century authors. She is a highly respected academic in her field, but has also led a remarkable life. Her latest publication is an autobiographical piece, which is a joy to read. As the daughter of George Devine, founder and leading light of the Royal Court Theatre, she had an unusual girlhood, punctuated by visits from Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft and other leading actors of the day. The book is full of fascinating anecdotes about some very well-known people, illustrated with some very evocative photographs from Harriet's collection.
Harriet writes beautifully, in a clear and entertaining style. She is very honest about herself and the people she encountered. The result is a fascinating book, which should be read by anybody with an interest in British post-war theatre and culture. I'm already looking forward to the second volume.

10 comments:

Anglepoise said...

Laurence Olivier once got his ring caught in my mother-in-law's hair. It was just that kind of a party. Perhaps I should recommend Harriet's book to her.

Rob Spence said...

Perhaps you should: there's a lot about Larry in the book.

Anonymous said...

I was once taught by Harriet not so long ago and liked her immediately. Her book looks really interesting, I'll definitely buy it.

Rob Spence said...

An Edge Hiller, eh? Harriet's feedback is always the envy of we lesser mortals...

Anonymous said...

Yes I'm an Edge Hiller,and I felt very lucky to have Harriet as my english tutor in 2003. I thought she was an inspiring person.

Harriet said...

Thanks Rob for the kind words! and anonymous too. Glad to hear we actually get through to some students,anyway.

Rob Spence said...

Is that the royal we, harriet...?

Harriet said...

Just trying to be modest...

Anonymous said...

I've just read Harriet's book and really enjoyed it,as it gave an insight into the theatrical world of the 50's and 60's,and was also a very honest account of her life. The picture on the cover of Harriet as a little girl is very cute too.

Rob Spence said...

Spread the word, anonymous. Academic writes entertaining book shock horror...