Setting the World on Fire

Angus Wilson
Date Published
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At the end of the Second World War Piers and his younger brother Tom are growing up at Tothill House, the family home with its magnificent baroque hall by Vanbrugh. Tom is the pluckier of the two, because pluck means overcoming one’s fears. Piers has no such fears to overcome; he is ambitious. As the post-war years witness a division in their aspirations and their destinies, the two brothers strive to achieve their own means of setting the world on fire.

With rich characterization, virtuoso scenes of comedy, and sparkling dialogue, Setting the World On Fire provides a brilliant anatomy of post-war English society from 1948 to 1969.

‘It is superb entertainment and social criticism but it is also a poem about the fire in human beings … A moving and disturbing book and a very superior piece of art.’ Anthony Burgess, Observer.


One of Britain’s most distinguished novelists Sir Angus Wilson was born in 1913. Educated at Westminster and Merton College, Oxford he joined the British Museum as a cataloguer before being called for service in 1941. His literary career began with a collection of short-stories published in 1949. These were followed by other short-story collections, novels and plays. Co-founder with Malcolm…

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