24 October 2009

Dangerous Muse

Girl In Bed Caroline Blackwood by Lucian Freud

I have a lot of books and one book leads to another. At Cookbook Of The Day, I was going to feature Darling, You Shouldn’t Have Gone To So Much Trouble, by Caroline Blackwood. Before I could write about it, I searched for my copy of Caroline Blackwood’s biography Dangerous Muse, by Nancy Schoenberger.

I searched for days and couldn’t find it and finally, it showed up. I read about the cookbook, and I continued reading, then I went back to the beginning and started re-reading all over again. Then I re-read Great Granny Webster and then I re-read Robert Lowell’s The Dolphin, about his break up with Elizabeth Hardwick and his relationship with Caroline. Then I moved on to In The Pink, Caroline’s book on fox-hunting. By now weeks have passed and the cookbook is still sitting on my desk.

So after all this, Darling, You Shouldn’t Have Gone To So Much Trouble is on Cookbook Of The Day and here are some highlights of all my reading.

The biography of Caroline Gordon was entitled Dangerous Muse because she was just that.
She was muse to three husbands:

Lucian Freud by Clifford Coffin

Lucian Freud – famous painter

Israel Citkowitz – famous composer

Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell – famous writer

Then, in no particular order, she was muse to several lovers:

Caroline Blackwood by Walker Evans

Walker Evans – famous photographer

Andrew Harvey – famous classics scholar

Cyril Connolly – famous critic

Ivan Moffat – famous producer

Many people believed that Evans was the father of her daughter, Ivana but it was actually, Moffat. Connolly tried valiantly to woo Caroline to no avail, and though he was married twice, Connolly was most probably gay. Andrew Harvey was definitely gay, but he was more than willing to have sex with Caroline.

While I am fond of Blackwood’s fiction, her prose really shines. My favorite of Blackwood’s books is her exploration of hunting, In the Pink. She looks at both sides of the fox hunting debate with humor and history.

“The rich are different, claimed Scott Fitzgerald, and if he had moved in English fox-hunting circles he might have had to say that the rich who fox-hunt are different from those who don’t.”
Of the vegan, anti-cruelty, bloke who refused to help an abandoned fox cub she writes:
“He was prepared to kill a huntsman because he hated the huntsman cruelty to foxes, but the following morning he was going to that the fox-cub out of his stable and send it off to almost certain perdition.”
On the Duchess who continued to ride side-saddle:
"Hunting in the 1930’s, the duchess of Marlborough could choose her saddle, and she accepted the responsibility if the love of the costume that went with it brought her unnecessary pain and unpleasantness.”

If you have never read Caroline Blackwood, give her a try. Or you could read Dangerous Muse, but be prepared to be enthralled and watch as your nightstand fills with additional reading.


  1. Well, here we are from cookery to slatterny (I know this is not quite the thing-it should be Muse) But it was too much to resist. My shelves are moaning-yours must be near collapse. la

  2. Little Augury suggested I look you up and I see why. Autodidacticism at its finest? Love it when you can pull the thread and weave history together...all without leaving your own bookshelves. Bravo!

  3. I love your blog . . . so very, very much. I was sent to spend the summer in Maryland, fox hunting - as a 15 year old to keep me out of trouble. I much prefer drag hunting. No one is hurt.


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