The Bruno Hat hoax 1929

13883Found – Society Racket: A Critical Survey of Modern Social Life (Long, London 1933) by Patrick Balfour (Baron Kinross) – a journalist. At the time of this book he was ‘Mr Gossip’ at the Daily Express and the character Adam in Waugh’s Vile Bodies was probably partly based on him (Adam becomes ‘Mr Chatterbox’ at the ‘Daily Excess’.)

Balfour covers the 1929 hoax surrealist exhibition at the Guinness’s house in Buckingham Gate SW1:

‘Then an invitation was sent out to a “First exhibition of Pictures by Bruno Hat” in Mr and Mrs Guinness’s house. It was accompanied by the following biography:

Mr Bruno Hat came to England with his father in 1919 from Lubeck. After having lived in this country a short time, Mr Max had married an English woman, and bought a general dealers shop in Sussex, where he lived until he died in 1923. The shop is now managed by Mr Bruno Hat with the help of his stepmother.

Mr Bruno Hat is now 31 years of age. Apart from some two months or so at a Hamburg art school, he is entirely self-taught. In frequent visits to London, exhibitions provide him with little little more than a glimpse of contemporary movements in painting. He has never, until now, exhibited a picture. A month ago, however, several examples of his work were taken to Paris, and the opinion there was so immediately favourable that successful arrangements have been made for an exhibition there In the early winter. Continue reading

07a-fay-compton

‘We could, I suppose, fall back on a woman…’

‘We could, I suppose, fall back on a woman…’

The words of John W Carter, scholar, bibliophile, author of the excellent ABC for Book Collectors, and sometime head of Charles Scribner’s Rare Book Department in London. He was discussing with the expert on British theatre, Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, the problem of finding someone eminent enough to open the National Book League’s exhibition on the British Theatre in October 1950 now that John Gielgud had declined the invitation.

From the correspondence that has come to light recently in a file of letters, Carter, having rejected the not very glamorous Ralph Richardson as a candidate, and having dismissed T.S. Eliot out of hand, for some reason, seems indeed to have turned to a woman in the shape of Peggy Ashcroft ( ‘the best actress in England’), who politely declined. Her explanation was that she always hated ‘making speeches‘ and that anyway she was committed to going on tour with the Old Vic on October 16th. Carter then seemingly wrote to the glamorous Fay Compton, who also appears to have said no. Luckily for Carter, the comparatively youthful Alec Guinness, despite being involved with a film at the time, accepted the invitation. [RR]