Gerald Brenan

Not having access in Órgiva to Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy’s biography of Brenan, I was pleased to find out more about him in Michael Jacobs’s admirable well-informed guide to Andalucía, as well as in Frances Partridge’s entry on him in DNB (South from Granada is dedicated to Ralph Partridge).   Brenan was always keen on long distance walking, having set out aged eighteen after being bullied at Radley to walk to China with the photographer, John Hope-Johnstone.   They only made it to Bosnia.   After fighting in the First World War, he moved to Spain in 1919 to eke out his army pension away from his family and middle-class England.   But he returned in the mid-1920s to undertake research in the British Museum for a life of St. Teresa of Ávila.   Back in Yegen to write the book, he had an affair with a fifteen-year old village girl called Juana.   According to Partridge, he was ‘obsessed by sex, but inhibited by fears of impotence’.   Perhaps what was not written about his time in Yegen was as interesting as what was.

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