In the pieces brought together in Writing Home, Polly Devlin OBE, most bewitching of writers, covers subjects that range over her whole life and thought. She writes about places: about her childhood deep in the countryside of Northern Ireland (where, in the late 1950s, the first electricity poles looked ‘literally out of place’); her sudden transition, at the age of twenty-one, to Swinging Sixties London, where she worked for Vogue and became very much part of the scene (although – ‘it’s like being a provincial at Versailles’), on to New York, back to London, then to the English countryside, and to Paris, Venice, the world over – and always back to Ireland, 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 (‘she looks as though she sleeps in cathedral pews and sucks artichoke hearts for sustenance’), Princess Margaret (who came to dinner and did the washing up, ‘which I gabbled she didn’t need to – she looked at me frostily and the royal hands went back into the Fairy Liquid’). 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, houses, dogs, rooks, hares, dreams, friendship and the kindness of strangers; about daughters and mothers; and about wishes . . .
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.
"I passionately love this book...the writing and the spirit, the cauldron of lives and language, the moral rigour, the observation...I wish I had published it."