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John Hayward—‘the most malicious man in London’

This photo, which is inscribed on the reverse, 'Rose Macaulay (centre) and John Hayward' was found amongst a large collection of press photographs that included a number of other shots of celebrated British cultural figures from the forties and fifties. Judging from the physical condition of the identified figures, it must date from the mid fifties. Hayward had suffered from muscular dystrophy since his twenties and eventually became wheelchair- bound. I suspect that the other two individuals in the shot were his ‘carers’, although observant Jotwatchers may know better. Even though Hayward was said to be light in weight, I can’t imagine the spindly Rose  having the energy to propel him across the grass. Incidentally, does Rose come into the category of Very Tall British Female Novelists**, along with Virginia Woolf ?

The photo makes Hayward, with his thick lips and mischievous mien, resemble top notch Modernist Wyndham Lewis. Nor were these facial features the only attributes they held in common. Both were disabled, though Lewis only became blind in his late sixties. Both were close to T. S. Eliot, though the much younger Hayward was more of a literary groupie than the intellectual equal of the poet, though his various editions of poetry gave him a certain cachet.  In 1926, while still an undergraduate at Cambridge, he had met Eliot for the first time. They got on well and Hayward developed the friendship with letters and invitations to the lonely Eliot to visit him at his home. In 1946 the two men moved into a flat together, with Hayward as the great man’s companion and amanuensis. For many years his closeness to Eliot, and his extraordinary ability to amuse all who came into contact with him meant he became a popular guest at literary parties, where his waspish tongue (which Lewis also had) was much in demand. One friend called him approvingly ‘the most malicious man in London’.  On Saturdays Eliot could be seen wheeling his friend around London, but the poet‘s late marriage ended the relationship and Hayward was obliged to vacate the flat in 1957. A year later Rose Macaulay died. Eliot died in 1965 and Hayward followed him eight months later. [RMH]

According to CelebRiot she was 5 foot 7 inches but this is a site more about Lady Gaga than V.W. so it may be inaccurate. Tall for a woman but not "Very Tall."

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