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Dominic Bevan Wyndham Lewis (1894-1969) was born in Wales and educated at Oxford. Prior to serving in World War I, he intended to pursue the legal profession; but after, having suffered two bouts of shell shock and one of malaria, he set his sights on journalism. In 1919, he became a columnist for The London Daily Express under the pseudonym "Beach Comber." These pieces and those that he later wrote for The London Daily Mail and The London News Chronicle capture Lewis's legendary wit and savage, though eloquent, impatience with modern trends and are collected in the volumes At the Green Goose (1923), At the Sign of the Blue Moon (1924), At the Blue Moon Again (1925), and On Straw and Other Conceits (1929). He wrote several literary biographies, acclaimed for both their spirited subjectivity and their attention to historical detail, taking on subjects ranging from Rabelais and Moliere to Boswell and Habsburg Emperor Charles V. Mid-career, he also coauthored the story on which Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much was based. Charles Lee (1870-1956) was born in London to an artistic family who, throughout Lee's life, heartily supported him in his evolution as an intellectual, fiction writer, poet, playwright, composer, and pianist. He received his BA from London University in 1889 and published his first novel, Widow Woman, in 1896. In poor health, he traveled to Cornwall in 1900 for a brief recuperative visit, staying on seven years, and discovering what would prove to be his most enduring subject: Cornish life, its manners, its landscapes, and its dogged resistance to modern times. In this vein, he wrote four other novels--Our Little Town, Paul Carah Cornishman, Dorinda's Birthday, and Cynthia in the West--as well as a number of short stories (recently collected in Chasing Tales: The Lost Stories of Charles Lee); several plays, journals, and musical scores; and a guide book, The Vale of Lanherne. Later, after relocating to the London environs, he worked as the senior editor for J. M. Dent, where, owing to his talent for pruning and polishing prose, he came to be known as "the man with the green pen." Billy Collins is the author of five books of poetry, including Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems, The Art of Drowning, The Apple That Astonished Paris, and Questions About Angels. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Poetry, The Paris Review, Harper's, and The Atlantic Monthly, among other publications. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and is the winner of numerous awards. In 1992, he was chosen by the New York Public Library to serve as "Literary Lion," and is currently serving as the 2001-2003 Poet Laureate of the United States. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY), Collins lives with his wife, Diane, in northern Westchester County, New York
"An unholy, unmerciful, but richly humorous book."