Serious Pleasures
  • Serious Pleasures


    Philip Hoare.


    Hamish Hamilton: 1990. First edition, later printing. Hardcover in a dust jacket. Very good.


    A seductive biography of the last professional exquisite. Stephen Tennant died intestate in 1987, aged 80, and has become a cult figure. He appears in numerous biographies about the 1920s and 1930s and he was the model for Cedric Hampton in 'Love in a Cold Climate' by Nancy Mitford. In his early youth he entertained his friends at his mother, Lady Glenconner's manor house Wilsford Manor in Wiltshire. Here he was photographed by Cecil Beaton to become one of the typical images of 1920s 'beautiful' young people. After his 21st birthday, his life went downhill. He suffered from tuberculosis. At this time he became the adored of Siegfried Sassoon and spent his convalescence with him in the Mediterranean. When he returned to Wilsford, Tennant led an indolent existence on his comfortable inhertance and worked for 40 years on his novel 'Lascar.' He became a recluse, redecorating Wilsford with fishnets, pink satin and golden conch shells. His hair was long and dyed mauve, he wore kaftans and many gilded bangles. This stage of his life is pitilessly described by his niece, Emma Tennant, in her novel "The House of Hospitalities."