in print
Books in Print
Julian Maclaren-Ross (edited and introduced by Paul Willetts)

Julian Maclaren-Ross was one of the most colourful inhabitants of the Soho and Fitzrovia of the forties, fifties and sixties. He knew and wrote about some of the most memorable characters of the time, among them Dylan Thomas, Graham Greene, Cyril Connolly, J.M.Tambimuttu, Nina Hamnett and Woodrow Wyatt. A dandy, with his overcoat and silver-topped malacca cane, and a gifted raconteur, his life, often chaotic—and related unsentimentally by him in these memoirs—veered between the fringes of the literary establishment and occasional homelessness.

These atmospheric stories are a rare insight into a world now gone, and this collection includes in full Maclaren-Ross’s best-known work of non-fiction, Memoirs of the Forties, along with many other less known but no less interesting works, some published here for the first time in book form. His poignant memoir of childhood, The Weeping and the Laughter, also appears here in full, for the first time since its original publication in the 1950s.

‘Those who have yet to discover this wonderfully stylish and sardonic writer should start here.’ (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)
‘A substantial account of his great talent.’ (THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)
‘Were he writing now… he would be a star.’ (THE TIMES)
‘An excellent anthology.’ (THE MAIL ON SUNDAY)
Julian Maclaren-Ross (edited and introduced by Paul Willetts)

Julian Maclaren-Ross first made his name as a writer of short stories. Whether narrated in the breathless, slangy voice of an uneducated soldier, or the clipped cadences of a colonial ‘expat’, whether set on the French Riviera or wartime England, his stories are imprinted with his unmistakable literary logo. Casual, matter-of-fact and laconic in tone, they convey an atmosphere of melancholy, permeated by wry humour.

‘Funny, bitter and original.’ (THE TIMES)
‘Maclaren-Ross is the master of the story which seems like a slice of life.’ (Allan Massie, THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)
‘Immediate, casual and slangy… these laconic and exhilaratingly under-punctuated vignettes are… reminiscent of the work of Henry Green.’ (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)
‘The stories [are]… told in a manner that brings Maclaren-Ross’s various worlds alive for us more than half a century on.’ (THE GUARDIAN)
Julian Maclaren-Ross (edited and introduced by Paul Willetts)

The writing in this Julian Maclaren-Ross omnibus is some of his best, and shows the breadth of his ability and interests. Readers familiar with his work will know of his short stories of the wartime and London, particularly its bohemian life, and there are excellent examples of both here. In stark contrast is his highly charged novella of the south of France between the wars, Bitten by the Tarantula.

Long overlooked has been Maclaren-Ross’s journalism. Written mainly during the 1950s and 1960s, his literary and film criticism shows the same sharp eye as his fiction and memoir, as well as a willingness to take seriously genres not then generally regarded as worthy of proper consideration. In many ways well ahead of its time, and distinctly modern, Iain Finlayson in The Times writes of Maclaren-Ross’s journalistic ‘genius’, a view this collection triumphantly confirms.

Julian Maclaren-Ross, more than forty years after his early death, is finally receiving the attention and acclaim he deserves. His colourful life – which saw him fictionalised in the work of other writers, most famously in Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time – all too often had the effect of overshadowing his very real talent, which was none the less fully recognised in his own time by his more famous contemporaries, among them Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and John Betjeman.

Of Love and Hunger
Julian Maclaren-Ross (with an introduction by D.J. Taylor)
Penguin Books
Maclaren-Ross’s exploits as a door-to-door salesman during the depths of the Depression provided the basis for this sometimes hilarious, sometimes melancholy romantic drama. Told in a slangy, clipped style, allied to cinematic cutting, it’s a landmark novel that has had a pervasive influence on subsequent English writing.
‘Funny, unsentimental and narrated in a laconic, demotic prose, Of Love and Hunger is one of the most evocative works of the Depression.’ (Peter Parker, The Readers’ Guide to Twentieth-Century English Fiction)
‘I regard [it] as one of the few modern novels at the top of the first-class.’ (John Betjeman)
‘Thanks to Penguin’s enterprising reissue, a wider readership now has the chance to savour its distinctive ambience, and to understand why Maclaren-Ross was once regarded as the rising star of the London literary scene.’ (The Spectator)

The Bizarre life of actor, writer, Soho dandy Julian Maclaren-Ross
Paul Willetts
Invariably clad in a sharp suit, augmented by dark glasses and a cigarette-holder, Julian Maclaren-Ross was a celebrated figure in mid-twentieth-century Soho’s pub and club scene. He was also one of his generation’s most brilliant writers, admired by the likes of Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell, Cyril Connolly and Lucian Freud. Since the publication of Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia, the first biography of Maclaren-Ross, there has been a resurgence of interest in his ground-breaking work and flamboyant personality. Synonymous though he is with Soho, his uniquely strange life included spells in the army and on the French Riviera. So chaotic was his existence that he makes Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski appear models of stability and self-restraint. During fifty-two hectic years, Maclaren-Ross endured alcoholism, drug-induced psychosis, poverty, homelessness, imprisonment, near insanity, and a Scotland Yard man-hunt. At one stage he even stalked and planned to murder George Orwell’s glamorous widow. Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia provides a vibrant and justly acclaimed portrait of Maclaren-Ross and the world he inhabited.
‘Very strange, very striking and altogether fascinating.’ (Richard Holmes)
‘An inspiring read.’ (John King, New Statesman ‘Books of the Year’)
‘Diligent, painstaking and bleakly hilarious.’ (D.J. Taylor, The Guardian)
‘Gloriously readable.’ (The Mail on Sunday)
‘Historical profiling of a high order, richly and racily done.’ (The Literary Review)
‘[The] book evokes not just the seedy flamboyance of a man who slept in Turkish baths and railway stations and was immortalised by Anthony Powell as X. Trapnel, but a long-vanished bohemian world.’ (Michael Arditti, The Times, ‘Books of the Year’)
‘A cracking portrait of London bohemia.’ (The Independent)
The Selected Letters of Julian Maclaren-Ross
Due to be published by in late 2006.
Click here to read three letters written to Maclaren-Ross’s friend, the writer C.K. Jaeger.