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Dangerous Muse By Nancy J. Schoenberger

Dangerous Muse
by Nancy J. Schoenberger

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Schoenberger has interviewed many of Caroline Blackwood's former lovers, friends and enemies, including her formidable mother, to draw together the many strands of her remarkable life into this elegant and poignant biography of an Irish aristocrat and writer who was surrounded by some of the great literary and society figures of the 20th century.
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Dangerous Muse Summary

Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood by Nancy J. Schoenberger

Caroline Blackwood was a journalist and novelist. She was born into the Guinness family in 1931 and was on intimate terms with some of the most celebrated artists of her time. Her first husband was the painter Lucian Freud, her second the composer Israel Citkowitz, and her third the poet Robert Lowell. Caroline's marriage to Lucian Freud caused a great stir in English society; Evelyn Waugh wrote to Nancy Mitford, 'You know that poor Maureen's daughter made a runaway match with a terrible Yid?' Caroline and Lucian became part of an artistic and literary group that included Francis Bacon and Cyril Connolly but eventually Freud's drinking and gambling became too much and she left him. Her most trying times, however, were during her seven-year marriage to Lowell who suffered from paranoia and acute depression. Lowell died from a heart-attack having fled from their house in Ireland, clutching a portrait of her painted by Freud. Caroline published her first novel at the age of thirty-eight: The Stepdaughter, a study of female rage. Her gifts lay in satirising human behaviour. Her most successful book, Great Granny Webster, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, was described by John Betjeman as 'powerfully malicious'. In all, she wrote ten books of fiction and non-fiction and has been compared to Edna O'Brien, Iris Murdoch, Muriel Spark and Samuel Beckett. She died on Valentine's Day, 1996, aged 64. Nancy Schoenberger has interviewed Blackwood's former lovers, friends and enemies including Seamus Heaney, Jonathan Miller, Elizabeth Hardwick, Jonathan Raban, Geordie Grieg and her formidable mother Lady Maureen, 4th Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, with whom Caroline had a famously contentious relationship. She has drawn together the many strands of her remarkable life into an elegant and extremely poignant biography.

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Dangerous Muse Reviews

The novelist Caroline Blackwood had a truly extraordinary life. Born into the wealth of the Guinness family and that decaying world of Anglo-Irish gentry and great houses which she was to chronicle sharply in her work, she married the painter Lucian Freud and the poet Robert Lowell. In between these turbulent and eventually failed marriages, she also married the composer Israel Citkowitz, Schoenberger has interviewed those who knew her - frorn Seamus Heaney and Jonathan Raban to the 4th Marchioness of Dufferin and Jonathan Miller - and put together a fascinating portrait. The parts dealing with her relationships with Lowell and Freud are especially compelling. And in the case of Lowell, heartbreakingly poignant, for the end of the marriage was to coincide with his madness and death. But what's especially valuable about the book is that it recovers Blackwood as a significant author in her own right, as well as a muse to one of the best British painters and major American poets of the century.

About Nancy J. Schoenberger

Nancy Schoenberger is Professor of English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Additional information

Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood by Nancy J. Schoenberger
Nancy J. Schoenberger
Used - Very Good
Orion Publishing Co
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