In the pieces brought together in Writing Home, Polly Devlin, most bewitching of writers, covers subjects that range over her whole life and thought. She writes about places: about her childhood deep in the Irish countryside (where, in the late 1950s the first electricity poles looked ‘literally out of place’); her sudden transition, at the age of twenty-two, to Swinging Sixties London, where she worked for Vogue (‘it’s like being a provincial at Versailles’), on to New York, back to London then to the English countryside, and Paris, Venice, St Petersburg, the world over – and always back to London and New York. She writes about the people she has known, among them Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, Peggy Guggenheim, Diana Vreeland (‘as fantastical as a unicorn’), Jean Shrimpton, Grace Coddington, Princess Margaret (who came to dinner and did the washing up – ‘the most un-charming person I ever met’). And she writes about the issues that have preoccupied her: about emigration, feminism (‘I grew up in a society where men were fundamental and women were secondary’), reading, writing, collecting, shopping, style, houses, dogs, rooks, hares, dreams, contrarians, friendship and the kindness of strangers; about daughters and mothers and mothers-in-law; and about wishes; and faux pas.
Polly Devlin is a writer, broadcaster and filmmaker. She holds an OBE for services to literature. After spending her childhood in Northern Ireland, at the age of twenty-two she took up her first job – as a writer, and soon features editor, on British Vogue, at the heart of 1960s London. A couple of years later she was again transported, to New York, to work for Diana Vreeland on American Vogue – where, once more, she was very much part of the scene she wrote about in her columns. Since then she has been a columnist on The Sunday Times, The New Statesman and The Observer, and has written many highly acclaimed books. Her first book, All of Us There, is now a Virago Modern Classic. The most recent, New York: Places to Write Home About (Pimpernel Press, 2017; published in the United States by Gibbs Smith, as New York: Behind Closed Doors) was greeted with delight on both sides of the Atlantic. She now divides her time between London and New York, where, until her recent retirement, she taught Creative Non-Fiction at Barnard College, Columbia University.
"Polly Devlin casts spells.’" - Irish Times
"Acute insight, an impressive talent for le mot juste and an infectious enthusiasm for the infuriating but irresistible." - Time Out