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Beaton in the Sixties
The Cecil Beaton Diaries as He Wrote Them, 1965-1969
This second volume of Cecil Beaton's unexpurgated diaries, from 1965 to 1969, catches this prolific photographer, artist, writer and designer at the height of his powers and at the center of everything. And no wonder--as Oliver Smith, the set designer forMy Fair Lady, said, he "had more energy than anyone I've ever known." Hugo Vickers, the author of Beaton's acclaimed biography, went back to the original manuscripts to find the unedited material in order to sidestep Beaton's endless retouching and has added, as with the firstvolume of unexpurgated Beaton, fascinating notes that are as lively as the diary entries themselves. Here is Beaton around the world, always in the hot spots of the moment: during the "swinging sixties" in London, photographing the Queen, doing fashion shoots for BritishVogue, and having lunch with Noël Coward and dinner with Cyril Connolly. He is in Morocco with the Rolling Stones; in the Greek islands for a cruise on Cécile de Rothschild's yacht with his former lover, Garbo; in New York attending Truman Capote's Black-and-White Ball; at work on Alan Jay Lerner and André Previn's musicalCocowith Katharine Hepburn and onLa Traviatawith Anna Moffo at the Met--he is even caught in the first big New York City blackout; he is at a dinner for President Lyndon Johnson and invited for tea and caviar with Jacqueline Onassis. He's in Mougins to photograph Picasso, and then off to Monaco to see Princess Grace, among many other adventures. The eccentric English aesthete Stephen Tennant called Beaton "a self-created genius." Though he came out of the Edwardian era, Beaton was a modern polymath with a ferocious drive to be famous, and these diaries reflect his success at working with the most celebrated and creative figures. Reverential, testy, ebullient and acutely observed, they present us with the fascinating minutiae not only of one life but of the best part of a dazzling decade.