Christchurch circles and cliques, Helen Watson White

Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953
Peter Simpson
Auckland University Press, $70.00,
ISBN 9781869408480

When Christchurch poet and printer Denis Glover travelled to Britain in 1941 to serve in the Royal Navy, he left behind one literary circle and – temporarily – joined another. An early letter home to fellow-poet Allen Curnow described literary soirées in London with John Lehmann:

there in solemn conclave, all on view, sat [Cecil] Day Lewis & Stephen Spender with his wife Natasha. I think they felt they were rather being shown off, & the conversation flowed along rather gossipy lines, with celebrities tossed here & there in airy unconcern. However, all was soon well; I made it clear that I was a barbarian come to see the ruins of Rome, & not very impressed either. Day Lewis is a studious & flat-chested little fellow (sporting a Holcroft bow which emphasises it) … The long-legged Spender … reminds me of a young pukeko … .

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