Autograph Diary, 1950 to 1955, of Captain Antony Brett-James, military historian and Sandhurst lecturer

Captain Antony Brett-James (1920-1984), 5th Indian Division Royal Signals, military historian and Sandhurst lecturer, partner of the actress Jill Balcon (1925-2009)
Publication details: 
On pages of a book of letterheads: 'From Captain Brett James, Officer Commanding. Officers' Training Corps (J.D.), Mill Hill School Contingent, School House, Mill Hill, N.W.' 4 January 1950 to 18 September 1955.
SKU: 12118

54pp., 12mo. Neatly written out on pages of a book of leaves of paper for correspondence, comprising numbered letterheads with blank underleaves for carbon copies. In fair condition, on lightly-aged paper, with the cover and first few leaves of the volume missing. Terse, pithy entries, noting down facts concerning work, meetings, lunches, family matters, school activities, holidays. During the course of the diary Brett-James switches work from the publishers Harrap to their rivals Chatto & Windus, and the entries reflect his activities in both the military and cultural world. The diary begins with him working on the manuscript of his book 'Ball of Fire' (published 1951). Of some significance to his later life is the entry for 6 June 1951: 'With Elizabeth Sewell to hear C. Day Lewis [husband of his future partner Jill Balcon] talk on Hardy's poetry at Royal Society of Literature. Saw Edmund Blunden and Clifford Bax.' (On 17 July 1952 he lunches with Day Lewis at the Savile Club, and on 3 December he lunches with him again, this time at the Nag's Head.) On 20 to 21 December he passes a 'Weekend with Compton Mackenzie at Denchworth. Walked with his niece, Jean Compton, an actress.' On 11 February 1952 he is working in the Harrap offices in Holborn, and watches 'the King's coffin pass down Kingsway. The Dukes of Gloucester and Edinburgh walked behind the gun-carriage.' On 16 November 1953 he attends a Foyles Literary Luncheon for Gilbert Harding. On 5 May he meets Malcolm Muggeridge 'at 4.30 at Punch Offices, about editing 'The Pick of Punch'. 30 June 1954 is a day of Scottish lions: Compton Mackenzie for tea at 4pm, and at 9.30pm Norman McCaig, Hugh Macdiarmid and Moray Maclaren. On 4 August 1954 he sees the artist John Piper at the National Portrait Gallery 'about General Graham'. 11 October 1954: 'Laurie Lee in to my office.' Over the weekend of 30 and 31 July 1955 he writes '10,000 words of General Graham.' The last entry, 18 September 1955, reads 'Had my mother's mother lived, this would have been her 100th birthday.'