Posted on 2nd June, 2022

How well are the journals of Leo Lerman known over here? I commend them as a model of erudition and gossip. In 1984, he is reading the second volume of Hilary Spurling's biography of Ivy Compton-Burnett. This prompted him to recall that, three decades earlier, he had lunch at a restaurant in the Victoria and Albert Museum: "at a table two removed from us sat A Brooding Preesnce - dark, out of some turn-of-the-century print with touches of the Twenties. She should have sported amber beads, but she did not. A sort of modest chamber-pot hat fittled closely over her mousy fringe (or perhaps that was a hairnet?). She sat, permeating aloneness, intent.... In the unexpected quiet of the V & A commissary sat this seemingly malign presence, more alone than anyone I had ever seen, but inside concentrated on the dark side of the moon, on the black side of human nature, on the freakishness of people. And this Presence, Puss and I knew immediately, was Ivy Compton-Burnett"

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