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The Breaking of Bumbo was first published fifty years ago when the author was twenty-two. It was an immense success and caused something of stir.
To quote from the original blurb, ‘Bumbo Bailey is a coward and a bit of a hero; a martyr, an egoist, a clown, a debs’ delight and a Suez mutineer; a non-conformist Old Etonian Guardee . Partly his own victim, and partly the victim of his own small world, he is Made, and has his Season; and is Broken. Bumbo pursues his career from Caterham to an Officers’ Training School; from the Officers’ Training School to Wellington Barracks; and from Wellington Barracks to any number of wildly assorted parties. He learns a lot about Sex and Love and Discipline – and a little about himself; in the end he behaves very oddly indeed; and faces, in his own way, the consequences.’
This however is more than a period piece, the social milieu it describes may have vanished, but the novel’s satirical brio lifts it above its immediate provenance; it continues to read freshly.
‘This bitter, ironical and very clever first novel paints a devastating portrait of an upper-class misfit, half clown, half Hamlet . . .’ Evening Standard
‘Gruesomely funny . . . a violent virility that is infectious’ Tatler
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