A Sultry Month

Alethea Hayter
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ISBN 9780571255795 Format Paperback
Published 03/11/2009 Length 232 pages

About Book

'A brilliant and scholarly microcosm of a literary world.' Sunday Telegraph

'Alethea Hayter's skill and insight are outstanding, her work is a small masterpiece.' Anthony Burgess, The Bookman

June 1846 was a month of fierce heat and political crisis in London. This sultry month was also a time of personal crisis for Carlyle and his wife, for Browning and Elizabeth Barrett and notably for the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon. A cross-section of the close-textured life of literary London in the 1840s is tellingly portrayed. Dickens, Tennyson, Browning, the Carlyles, Monckton Milnes, the actor Macready, Mary Russell Mitford, Wordsworth and Samuel Rogers frequently met during these sweltering weeks, particularly since many of them felt constrained to give parties for the best-selling German novelist, the preposterous, one-eyed Grafin Hahn-Hahn, and her travelling companion Oberst Baron Adolph von Bystram.

The secret crises and decisive actions of the members of this group affected them all, as did the weather and the political situation. The catastrophe which overcomes Haydon is, however, the central leitmotif. A fascinating and stimulating book based on contemporary letters, diaries, memoirs and newspapers, A Sultry Month pioneered a new form of group biography when it was first published in l965, which has since influenced many writers and scholars.

  • About Alethea Hayter

    Alethea Hayter (1911-2006) read modern history at Oxford, and after a period writing for Country Life she joined the British Council, retiring in 1971. Her many books include Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1962), The Wreck of the Abergavenny (2002) and the acclaimed Opium and the Romantic Imagination (1968). She was appointed Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1962.

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