The Beefsteak club is one of London’s more exclusive. Concealed behind an anonymous door in the insalubrious vicinity of Leicester Square, it occupies one room up a flight of stairs, containing a single long table at which its members (there are only five hundred) lunch or dine. By convention, they do not choose their neighbors but are allocated a place at random by the waiters. Among their number are prime ministers (including the incumbent), academics, authors, diplomats, and a strictly controlled number of lawyers. The sole criterion for membership is an ability to talk and listen well.

Some time ago, the club published a volume, Beefsteak Lives, comprising short biographies of former members written by current ones. Many familiar twentieth-century names are included, as well as some whose lives the reader might be tempted to pass over with less interest....


New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

Popular Right Now