On August 30th 1841 William John Bankes, former Tory MP, pioneer Egyptologist and renowned traveller, was caught in compromising circumstances with a guardsman in London's Green Park. Bankes paid a heavy price for his 'moment of madness': less than two weeks later, well aware that sodomy carried the death penalty, he had fled in to exile, eventually settling in Venice. The British Government declared Bankes an outlaw, a vindictive and archaic procedure, which might have enabled them to seize his house - Kingston Lacy in Dorset. It was the vicarious embellishment of that house, although it could be no more than a memory, that was to be his only enduring passion. Based on extensive research from previously undiscovered archives, this is the first ever biography of William Bankes. Brilliantly written and highly readable, The Exiled Collector recounts Bankes' dramatic life story, examines the psychology of collecting, the pain and creativity of exile and affords a revealing insight into the minds of a hypocritical ruling elite in early Victorian Britain.
'A cracking and detailed tale' -- Antiques Trade Gazette 20040703 'A torrid tale' -- Tatler, Must Reads 20040801 'Anne Sebba tells us in The Exiled Collector a tale of Byron's friend William Bankes - esthete, member of Parliament, scion of a rich family - who became a notorious pariah in the 1830s when he was arrested not once but twice for approaching soldiers in public places. Bankes fled an England in which a convicted sodomite was still executed and spent the rest of his days in Venice and France compulsively collecting paintings and architectural details for his country house back in England. He knew he would never be permitted to live in the sumptuous interiors he was piecing together but paradoxically this elderly homosexual bachelor was assembling a home for future generations of his family. Anne Sebba has written this record of exquisite taste and brutal suffering with equal measures of verve, tact and eloquence.' -- Edmund White 20040801 'This is the first biography of William Bankes and it shows that his story - poignant and colourful by turns - well deserves to be told.' -- Daily Telegraph 20040710 'Anne Sebba's fascinating book is more than the portrait of another rich, gay dilettante ... it is the portrait of an obsession ... Sebba illuminates this bizarre but brilliant project by bringing Bankes out of the footnotes to which history consigned him, and back to life.' -- Financial Times 20040703 'Brisk, authoritative and readily engaging book ... Anne Sebba is marvellously sure-footed in her grasp of this tale ... lively and illuminating' -- Daily Mail's Critics Choice 20040730 'Based on extensive research from previously undiscovered archives, Sebba probes the psychology of collecting and the pain and creativity of exile, and provides and insight into the minds of the ruling elite in early Victorian Britain.' -- Dover Express & Folkestone Herald 20050714 'Anne Sebba tells this tale of talent and tragedy with great aplomb, producing in the process a wonderful hybrid of a book that is part biography, part tear-jerker, part lesson in art and architectural history, and part guide book ... She even manages to weave in some insights into the psychological make-up of the great collector ... Sebba shows her mettle as a biographer ... by her handling of Bankes's sexuality ... [she] is not afraid to explore ideas that for some might seem politically incorrect ... it focuses on the wonderful detail of Bankes's life' -- Indepent on Sunday 20040815 'A rich biography of a complex figure... The writing sparkles because Anne Sebba has seen the adventure in Bankes's life.' -- Christopher Lee, Literary Review 20040701 'Anne Sebba tells this tale ... with great aplomb, producing in the process a wonderful hybrid of a book.' -- Independent on Sunday 20040815 'Anne Sebba's fascinating book ... (brings) Bankes out of the footnotes to which history consigned him, and back to life.' -- Financial Times 20040703 'Brisk, authoritative and readily engaging ! Anne Sebba is marvellously sure-footed in her grasp of this tale ! lively and illuminating' -- Daily Mail Critic's Choice 20040730 'Anne Sebba has written this record of exquisite taste and brutal suffering with equal measures of verve, tact and eloquence.' -- Edmund White 20040730 'The stuff of which novels are made' -- Spectator 20041101 'Anne Sebba is at her most sympathetic and persuasive' -- The Spectator 20040807 'Absolutely compelling...there is much more here than the Homeric struggle in New York' -- Sunday Times 20041120 'This is the first biography of William Bankes and it shows that his story ... well deserves to be told.' -- Daily Telegraph 20040710
About Anne Sebba
Anne Sebba is a biographer, journalist and former Reuters foreign correspondent. She has written five books including the best-selling Mother Teresa, Beyond the Image and Laura Ashley, a Life by Design. She lives in London.
The Exiled Collector by Anne Sebba
Used - Very Good
John Murray Press
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