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L.P. Hartley (1895-1972), the son of the director of a brickworks, attended Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford, before setting out on a career as a literary critic and writer of short stories. In 1944 he published his first novel, The Shrimp and the Anemone, the opening volume of the trilogy Eustace and Hilda. In the spring of 1952, Hartley began The Go-Between, a novel strongly rooted in his childhood. By October he had already completed the first draft, and the finished product was published in early 1953. The Go-Between became an immediate critical and popular success and has long been considered Hartley's finest book. His many other novels include Facial Justice, The Hireling, and The Love-Adept. Anita Brookner is an art historian and novelist. She lives in London.
The combined effect of these three books is one of mounting excellence. Eustace, the central figure, is an immortal portrayal of the delights and agonies of childhood and adolescence. I cannot but envy the author of these books. He must feel immensely satisfied to have written a social novel which is in the class of George Meredith. He is a mature and rich writer, his gift for narrative balancing nicely with his other gifts of description and dialogue. -- John Betjeman