Hugh Chiverton
Hugh is the presenter of the daily discussion programme 'Backchat' and Head of Radio 3.
As We Were: A Victorian Peep-showUpdated: 5.3.2010 EF 'Fred' Benson was a character as extraordinary as any of his creations. Best known for the 'Lucia' books set in a small seaside town in the South of England in the 1920s he was a violently productive writer (100 books including 70 novels), a man with unusual skills (he ice-skated for Britain and had HP Lovecraft as a fan), and a son of the Archbishop of Canterbury. His eccentric but brilliant mother ran off to live with the daughter of the previous Archbishop, while his brother wrote the words to the song 'Land of Hope and Glory'.

'As We Were', subtitled ' A Victorian Peepshow', is a wonderfully vivid memoir of important and odd characters from the Victorian age that were friends, or friends of friends, of the author. It begins with a pincushion designed for the Queen herself, and takes in such larger than life characters as Swinburne ('an imperishable child'), Gladstone ('charged with terrific voltage') and Henry James ('ferociously literary').

The book was written in 1930, ten years before Fred's death, and though gentle in tone, creates a portrait of a lost age as brilliant as fresh paint.
Book Information
As We Were - a Victorian Peep Show - by E. F. Benson - Read More
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication Date: February 12, 2001
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0141390451
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Reading Profile
Q: Can you summarize your reading life in 10 words?
A: Greedy
Q: Who is your favourite character in fiction?
A: Stephen Maturin and Jack Aubrey in Patrick O'Brian's novels
Q: Who is your favourite living writer?
A: John Updike? JG Ballard? David Mitchell?
Q: Do you mostly read fiction or non-fiction?
A: Probably more non-fiction. I collect books on Antarctic exploration and Egyptology.
Q: What book was most important to you as a child?
A: Tove Jansson's Moomin books, and Tintin obviously.
Q: What book would you take to a desert island?
A: Diaries of Robert Falcon Scott
Q: Most overrated book?
A: Any Tolkein