Suzi Feay; What's happened to A N Wilson?

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The Independent Culture

Leighton House, off Kensington High Street, is a hidden gem. It was once home to one of the more risible Victorian painters, Sir Frederick Leighton, and its turquoise-tiled Moorish Hall is one of London's most magical spaces.

Leighton House, off Kensington High Street, is a hidden gem. It was once home to one of the more risible Victorian painters, Sir Frederick Leighton, and its turquoise-tiled Moorish Hall is one of London's most magical spaces. The museum is hosting an exhibition based on Josceline Dimbleby's enthralling family history, A Profound Secret; both were launched this week. On display is the exquisite Burne-Jones drawing of Josceline's great-grandmother, May Gaskell, which first whetted her curiosity about the relationship between the Victorian matron and the gentle Pre-Raphaelite painter. The letters Josceline uncovered turned out to be hot stuff. "Do you think it was a platonic relationship?" A C Grayling asked sceptically, peering at Burne-Jones's sketch of an orgasmic May Gaskell frolicking in a bubble bath, flashing a nipple. The highlight of the exhibition is the portrait of May's tragic daughter Amy, now owned by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. I can thoroughly recommend both the book (out now, Doubleday) and the exhibition (until 30 May, free; 020 7602 3316 for details).

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What's going on with A N Wilson? I've been devouring his new novel My Name is Legion (Hutchinson), the story of a monstrous tabloid newspaper magnate. Lord Copper he ain't. But then Wilson's no Evelyn Waugh, either. Where is the chronicler of the Lampitts, the twittering Iris Murdoch fan? "When she felt him come inside her, she felt explosions of joy and ecstasy which she had never imagined would be possible." Oo-er! Of course, Wilson's satirising our own porn-saturated poverty of expression. Of course he is ...

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