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Writing in the Dark

Will Loxley

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Literature: history & criticism

An atmospheric narrative account of young writers working together in wartime London by an exciting new voice in literary non-fiction

Amid the sleepless nights of constant explosion and gunfire, and the discomfort, grief and primordial fear, the little office at 6 Lansdowne Terrace seemed to hold intact everything that was great or beautiful about human life.

As the streetlamps flickered out and lights were obscured behind brown-paper screens, a subdued atmosphere took hold of London in 1939. Cloistered in pubs and gloomy sitting rooms, London's young writers and artists faced being sent to the front, trading their paintbrushes and pens for the weapons of war. In WRITING IN THE DARK, Will Loxley conjures up this brooding world and tells the story of the defiant magazine Horizon, which sprung up against the odds.

Interweaving the personal histories of the magazine's leaders - Cyril Connolly, George Orwell and the poets Dylan Thomas and Stephen Spender - with their poetry, prose and letters, Will brings us into these writers' homes and into the shabby offices at 6 Lansdowne Terrace. He evokes a lost generation of women whose work on Horizon has gone unsung. WRITING IN THE DARK transforms our impression of Bloomsbury as a byword for wealth and exclusivity, as the passing decades made it more diverse, influenced by the chaotic nocturnal culture of nearby Soho and Fitzrovia. Capturing the literary life of the Second World War, Will fuses the exhausted melancholy in the aftermath of the Blitz with changes in the writers' own lives, as they moved from city to countryside, from youth to middle age.

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