Book review: The Richard Burton Diaries, Edited by Chris Williams


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The Independent Culture

Inevitably, there's a ton of ego in these journals, from 1939 to 1983, but also intelligence, tenderness, good taste ("I've always refused to talk to Jeffrey Archer"), keen observation and honesty.

"If I don't watch myself," Burton wrote at 43, "I'll be lucky to see my late forties." (He made it to 59.) Even so, he is "appalled" at Liz Taylor: "For the last month, she's gone to bed not merely sozzled but stoned."

Spilling the beans about his fellow stars ("Michael [Caine] speaks in a shout which becomes a bit hard in a small room"), Burton makes a highly engaging if verbose companion.