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on 15 July 2004
If anything, the title of Anne Sebba's new book is a little misleading.The
Exiled Collector: William Bankes and the Making of an English Country House
only suggests part of a much richer and more facsinating life. The exile in
question happened in 1841 after Bankes was caught in compromising
circumstances with a guardsman in London's Green Park. Bankes fled to
Europe fearing for his life and spent the next fourteen years
based in Venice buying works of arts and architectural embellishments for
his family seat, Kingston Lacy in Dorset, running the house by
remote control. The house still exists and is under the care of the
National Trust. But as Anne Sebba reveals in this entertaining and readable
biography, there were many sides to William Bankes: he was a friend and
contemporary of Lord Byron; a friend of the Duke of Wellington; an
explorer, a traveller and an egyptologist. He was a self-taught connoisseur,
travelling through war-torn Spain cannily buying paintings by Spanish
artists. He was also a lover of men. Anne Sebba's portrait of Bankes is
vivid and immediate, and mercifully unencumbered by the dead hand of dry
scholarship. Good books should always whet the appetite, and leave you a
little hungry for more. My appetite has certainly been whetted. A terrific
tale, well told.
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on 26 October 2015
A friend lent me their copy some time ago, and I regret that I did not have my own copy on the shelf. A recent visit to Kingston Lacy with a friend jogged my memory and I was delighted to find a copy of my own.
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on 4 February 2016
Excellent a great follow up book,recommended by the staff of the National Trust At Kingston Lacey,the house was owned by the Exiled Collector.
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on 24 September 2014
this is a brilliantly researched and fluidly written book. banks was a fascinating and complicated character and this book does him justice - a must read
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on 18 October 2013
Quite extraordinary family history providing a vivid context to the enigma of Kingston Lacey. A party house and art galley, not really for living....
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