Oracles of the Sybille

In 1975, I was commissioned to interview Sybille Bedford, by then a leading light in the literary world. She lived in a small house in Chelsea. As I got out my notebook, she said, ‘I hope you are not going to ask me about my life.’ She spoke freely about her work, though.

A Legacy, the novel she published in 1956, had become an instant classic. Evelyn Waugh had reviewed it in The Spectator with all the authority at his disposal: ‘We gratefully salute a new artist.’ In a letter to Nancy Mitford he further praised the novel: ‘What a brilliant plot!’ A Legacy was high art at a time when the Angry Young Man and the kitchen-sink style were low art or no art at all.

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