As I mentioned before, I’ve recently read Beau Brummell by Ian Kelly. I’m not going to attempt a review; it’s the first Brummell bio I’ve read and I haven’t the credentials to critique it from an academic standpoint. I found it a good read, both fascinating and depressing in places and would recommend it to anyone interested in this part of social history. Someone here said it went on rather long. I think the fact that nearly equal space was devoted to Brummell’s decline and death of syphilis as to the height of his popularity, what we usually see depicted in Regencies, made it hard work to read to the end. But that was his life, and a sobering story it is.
Anyway, to the tidbits.
One thing that always puzzled me was whether to spell his name with one or two l’s. Two l’s always looked more English to me but I’d seen it both ways. The Author’s Note explains that Brummell’s first French biographer in the 1840s used a single l, but that his birth record has two l’s and that is the way he signed it. So I feel vindicated.
Brummell never sat for a full length portrait and I’ve never known how he really looked. The plate of miniatures and etchings in this book is not much help, which Kelly himself admits. Look at these guys! They don’t even look related, although I think the one on the middle right is hot. I like the sideways glance and the humorous quirk to his mouth. Right or wrong, this is how I’ll picture Brummell at his best.
So what do you think? Which of these pictures best reflects your idea of the Beau? And do you prefer two l’s or one?
I always picture him as James Purefoy, because of the 2006 TV movie, but that’s just me. If I had to pick one out of the four pics, however, I’d go with the middle right. Seems just about right with the cleverly-tied cravat and fashionable hair. 🙂
The top one with the little disdainful sneer.
I understand that the North American version of this book is a bit shorter than the UK version. I so loved the book that I wish I could read the longer version!
If the man himself spelled his name with two ls, then it ought to be spelled with two. And the one on the middle right is definitely my favorite as well.
Though it wasn’t planned, I think the fact that no definitive portrait of The Beau exists is sheer genius. As was the casting of James Purefoy as Brummell, which I told Ian Kelly when we sat down to discuss Brummell. Ian is also an actor, and he played the part of one of the “Bad Manners” brothers in the Purefoy film. Before filming began, the director asked Ian if he could sit down with him, so that he could explain the role – and Brummnell – to him. He had no idea that Ian himself had written the definitive biography, upon which the film was based. Ha! Yes, of course, explain away. If you dare. You great, feckin’ dolt.
Oh, how funny, Kristine/Vicky! Now you remind me that movie is still sitting on my Netflix queue…
I loved this autobiography. I bought a copy when I was in England so I’d have the longer version. I thought it was brilliantly written and it held my interest throughout.
Naturally I too enjoy James Purefoy in the buff but I found the movie disappointing.
I thoroughly enjoyed this biography even the sad end. I have to agree that the middle right image is the way I have always pictured the Beau. I need to check and see if my book is the UK version or the US.