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Journals, 1939-1977

Keith Vaughan

Keith Vaughan’s Journals merits a place among the greatest confessional writing of the twentieth century

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Keith Vaughan’s Journals merits a place among the greatest confessional writing of the twentieth century. Vaughan belonged to the Neo-Romantic group of landscape painters that included Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland. Much troubled by his homosexuality, he began a diary in 1939, ‘faced at the age of twenty-seven with what then seemed the likelihood of imminent extinction before I had properly got started’; and he would write until his suicide in 1977.

Editor Alan Ross hails Vaughan’s Journals as ‘a self-portrait of astonishing honesty: devoid of disguise in any shape or form, or hypocrisy’. The earlier entries, covering the war years and his period of greatest creativity in the 1940s and 1950s, ‘are revealing for the light they shed on a painter’s character and, to a lesser extent, working methods’. The later pages chronicle ‘a descent into hell . . . redeemed by their frankness, spleen and dry humour’.

This edition reproduces the amplified version of the Journals that was first published in 1989.


Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) was a painter and a writer. As a painter he belonged initially to the Neo-Romantic movement of the 1940s but increasingly developed his own idiosyncratic style. Concentrating on studies of male figures, his style became progressively more abstract. Despite his undeniable stature as an artist, he is perhaps as well known today for his journals which are…

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