John Sutherland
Stephen Spender:
The Authorized Biography.
Oxford, 627 pages, $40

Stephen Spender
New Collected Poems,
edited by Michael Brett.
Faber & Faber, 393 pages, £30

There have been two previous biographical studies of Sir Stephen Spender (1909–1995). The first, by Hugh David (1992), was a hatchet job which caused the family great distress. The second, David Leeming’s Stephen Spender: A Life in Modernism (1999), was more respectable, but it was still too frank about Spender’s bisexuality for the comfort of some. This is odd, since Spender was open about the matter himself in his autobiography, World Within World (1951), and his autobiographical novel The Temple, first drafted in the early 1930s but published, in a revised version, only in 1988. It will be noticed that these accounts stop early in...

 

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