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John Banting letter

Letter to the critic Raymond Mortimer from the artist John Banting (1902 -1972) from his White Rock Gardens, Hastings address (undated but late 1960s.) Discussing a high society book by Daphne Fielding and life in general. The book was almost certainly Emerald and Nancy: Lady Cunard and Her Daughter. (1968)

Dear Raymond and Paul – it is so reassuring (and so daunting) that you both look so splendid  still. I feel my face sliding with pink jowels but do not resent my filleted clown's nose (it is a change from the old one I had and bewildered strangers.) I hated the extracts from the book about Lytton – I hate all the necrophiliac messes.  They are not history they are gossiping provincial suburban muck.

Portrait of Nancy Cunard by John Banting

I am impatient for your review of Daphne's new book about the haute monde (and incidentally the 'weird' Nancy** whom we both loved). I refrain from boring you with my silly feelings about it – but all the anecdotes (fascinating -but who really cares that  the Prince of Wales thought that "cold salmon was common?" )  The complete exclusion of politics  and the arts is unfortunate for Daphne and places her upon a silly old fence as a gossip columnist.  Her several wild letters to me (never met her) are far better and one day she may make a book instead of trivial memoirs. She is just too commercial. She could be really good.

I feel ashamed to be amused by them  –  O Fuck I feel ashamed to be alive anyway. Please accept  (wishfully)  many enormous  paintings - of  all periods - and vast volumes and heavy chandeliers of Golconda diamonds (no crystal trash) pigeon blood rubies on rings and so on. And so many variegated regards John X

** Nancy Cunard, socialite, poet and rebel - a close friend. He shared her outrage at racial prejudice and stayed with her in Harlem, New York in 1932 and contributed to her Negro Anthology (1935).

He accompanied her on a three month visit to Spain during the Civil War (Oct. - Dec. 1937).

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