Stephen Spender

Prompted by the Hauser and Wirth’s display at Frieze Masters about Stephen Spender’s interest in art – a friend of Henry Moore, took drawing classes with William Coldstream at the Euston School in the late 1930s, bought work by Auerbach at his first gallery show in 1956, travelled to China with David Hockney in the 1980s – I have been reading his son Matthew’s account of his parents and his upbringing in A House in St. John’s Wood:  In Search of My Parents.  It doesn’t tell one much about their interest in art (she taught Visual Perception in the Department of Cultural Studies at the RCA), but it does a great deal about their respective love lives.   I was intrigued by the story that when Anthony Blunt discovered that he was being investigated by MI5 for spying, he simply went to their offices and removed his file, thereby considerably slowing the investigation;  and his description of his wife Maro’s ‘habit of treating a secret as if it were a delicious substance to be spread over a large area, like anchovy paste on toast’.

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