The Pleasure of Antonia Fraser

In this week’s TLS there is a review of a collection of essays edited by Antonia Fraser and entitled The Pleasure of Reading.  This is a reprint of a book first published in 1992 to mark the bicentenary of the W.H. Smith Co. It consists of 43 essays by writers recollecting the books that had given them the most memorable pleasure, and this new edition contains new essays and editorial material.

In the introduction, Lady Antonia recounts being told in 2014 about a letter from Evelyn Waugh to Diana Cooper written in September 1932 mentioning a visit to her when she was a few weeks old:

So I saw F. Pakenham’s baby and gave it a book, but it can’t read yet (MWMS, p. 14).

Her reaction upon learning of this letter “was not amusement but indignation: I learnt pretty soon” (p. xviii). Waugh was a friend of both her father Frank Pakenham and her mother Elizabeth (nee Harman) from his Oxford days.

According to the Amazon search function, Waugh is mentioned 14 times in this book. Among the writers recounting their presumably pleasurable reading of his books are Patrick Leigh Fermor, John Mortimer, Tom Stoppard and Sue Townsend.

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