If it does nothing else, this volume should change people's perceptions of lieutenant-colonels. One of them, a Dunkirk veteran who joined Eisenhower's staff, wrote books with titles like Salome Dear, Not in the Fridge! and became a jolly television games-player (yes, Arthur Marshall); another, who served in Intelligence, took to wearing bangles and a large diamond in one ear, and was barred from Wimbledon for designing too-saucy dresses for tennis women (Teddy Tinling); a third, who rose from private in the Honourable Artillery Company, was a devout Christian who launched the Hammer House of Horror (Sir James Carreras). All demonstrated that a spell in uniform, as the sovereign's trusty and well-beloved, never cramped a creative talent, and perhaps that a creative talent never cramped a military one. The singularity of their careers has earned them a place with 'the last legitimate male Plantagenet' and the builder of 5747 Sopwith Camels in the last quinquennial round-up of the Dictionary of National Biography. This is also the last of five volumes to which C.S. Nicholls has devoted her editorial talents. There will now be something of a hiatus, until the first volumes of the New Dictionary of National Biography, under Colin Matthew, begin to appear early next century, with all lives revised and the text sprinkled with ten thousand pictures.
LRB 22 August 1996 | PDF Download