The illustration in the photographs is by the late British magazine and newspaper editor and cartoonist Mark Boxer (1931-1988) who drew under the pen-name Marc. Boxer was commissioned by Fontana Books to produce an illustration for each of the twelve novels in Anthony Powell’s series A Dance to the Music of Time, with A Question of Upbringing being the first.
With his good looks, charm and dandified persona, it was evident, even early on in his career, that Boxer was a man of contradictions with a talent for mischief. At Cambridge he was almost expelled for publishing a series of blasphemous poems whilst editor of its student publication Granta. His commuted punishment of a week-long suspension, designed to make him miss out on all the May festivities, turned to triumph when at the end of the week he was still able to enter the King’s May Ball at the stroke of midnight. Shortly after, he dropped out of his own accord. Described by others as a snob, he was Left-wing in his political beliefs. In his working life, he defected from the conservative newspaper The Times to the liberal The Guardian, only to, soon after, jump ship to the right-wing Telegraph to, as he put it, ‘milk a little outrage from an alien audience.’ Even in death he managed to incite provocation: when a public spat, spanning decades and played out in the pages of The Guardian, broke out between one of his closest friends, the author, Martin Amis and his second wife, the glamorous broadcaster Anna Ford who accused Amis of insensitivity for smoking whilst Boxer was on his deathbed and for generally being unsupportive (recently Ford has retracted part of her accusation, citing Christopher Hitchens instead as the smoking culprit).
Many of his portraits of celebrated figures from the world of politics, royalty and the arts can be found in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery alongside photographs of himself.
For further book scraps, please follow on Twitter.