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'Griselda de Reptonville did not know what love was until she joined one of Mrs. Hatch's famous house parties at Beams, and there met Leander...' The Late Breakfasters (1964) was the sole novel Robert Aickman published in his lifetime. Its heroine Griselda is invited to a grand country house where a political gathering is to be addressed by the Prime Minister, followed by an All Party Dance. Expecting little, Griselda instead meets the love of her life. But their fledgling closeness is cruelly curtailed, and for Griselda life then becomes a quest to recapture the wholeness and happiness she felt all too briefly. 'Those, if any, who wish to know more about me' - Aickman wrote in 1965 - 'should plunge beneath the frivolous surface of The Late Breakfasters.' Opening as a comedy of manners, its playful seriousness slowly fades into an elegiac variation on the great Greek myth of thwarted love.
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Robert Fordyce Aickman was born in 1914 in London. He was married to Edith Ray Gregorson from 1941 to 1957. In 1946 the couple, along with Tom and Angela Rolt, set up the Inland Waterways Association to preserve the canals of Britain. It was in 1951 that Aickman, in collaboration with Elizabeth Jane Howard, published his first ghost stories in a volume entitled We Are for the Dark. Aickman went on to publish seven more volumes of 'strange stories' as well as two novels and two volumes of autobiography. He also edited the first eight volumes of The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories. He died in February 1981.
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