Legenda doies publish occasional biographies (see, for example, Marco Faini on the Renaissance cardinal Pietro Bembo, or Susana Cory-Wright on that doyenne of actresses, Maud Beerbohm Tree), but only where we can offer something more than the shilling life that will give you the facts. This is such a case: John is the great-grandson of the writer, and well placed to write the first full biography of a novelist who played a central part in Berlin culture in the decades up to the rise of Nazism.
The cover illustration is a portrait of Georg by his contemporary Josef Oppenheimer (1876-1966). Josef was born in Würzburg, and also painted social gatherings besides sketching a surprising number of nudes, but it was through his society portraits that he rose to prominence in both London and Berlin. The story he most liked to tell was about his first subject: incredibly, Bismarck, whom he sketched when they were both staying in the same spa hotel. Bismarck was 75, Oppenheimer was 14. But Oppenheimer went on to numerous other famous sitters who became makers of the next century: Albert Einstein and Harold Macmillan, for example. Like Georg, Josef was forced out of Germany by the rise of Nazism: but, already having a base in London as well as Berlin, he went to England and not to the Netherlands, and as a result he was to oulive Georg by two decades. One or two of his works go onto the art market every year, fetching a wide range of prices, as if posterity has not quite made up its mind about Josef. But his portrait of Georg manages to be captivating and dynamic.
John Craig-Sharples's book will appear in 2019.