Books: Homemade Cecil Beaton

by Hugo Vickers Little Brown; 656 pages; $25

"I do so want to make my name--and a full-page thing of me as the Marchioness looking like a Madonna would make the most terrific sensation and I should hold my head high all the season." There, in a diary entry made at the age of 20, is the essence of Cecil Beaton: ambitious, foppish and unstoppable. He was appearing in an undergraduate production of Pirandello's Henry IV, for which he had also designed the sets and costumes, and it is typical of the man's combination of luck and manipulation that the play was agreeably reviewed in the Spectator and witnessed...

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