Books: Flattering Autobiography

THINKING IT OVER—Hesketh Pearson—Harper ($3.50).

Hesketh Pearson is an impressionable, aggressive English biographer and actor, a hater of psychology, politics, literary "style," for whom "two and two equal any sum that takes my fancy." This last credo has made his biographies (Doctor Darwin, Tom Paine, Gilbert and Sullivan) lively with anecdotes, slack on background. A onetime clerk who answered his boss's questions with quotations from Shakespeare, Pearson began his theatrical career under Beerbohm Tree, whose advice consisted mainly of such enigmatic nonsense as telling him not to suck his thumb. As an actor,...

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