Percy Lubbock (1878-1965) had the perfect training, background, and intellectual equipment to become a major novelist of his time. Well-to-do, well-connected, a graduate of Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, he had addressed himself early to the literary life, not only as a student and scholar but as a cultivator of older literary luminaries. While still a young man he became the intimate friend of Arthur Christopher Benson, Howard Sturgis, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. He would ultimately edit Benson’s voluminous diaries and the letters and fiction of James, who apostrophized him in a letter as “my dear blest Percy!”

He not only started surely; he proceeded with care. His first book was a life in letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning; his second, a short biography of Pepys, of whose library in Magdalen College, Cambridge, he was for a time director. It was not until 1921 that he published The Craft of...

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