Spanish Portrait by Elizabeth Lake

Set principally in San Sebastián and Madrid between 1934 and 1936, this brutally honest, semi-autobiographical novel portrays a frantic love affair against the backdrop of confusion and apprehension that characterised the bienio negro, as Spain drifted inexorably towards civil war. It was described by Elizabeth Bowen as “A remarkable first novel [revealing] a remorseless interest in emotional truth”.

Elizabeth Lake was the pen-name adopted by Inez Pearn, a girl from a working-class background who won a scholarship to Oxford in the early 1930s. She was active in the campaign to support the Spanish Republic and was later involved in the Mass Observation movement. She wrote five novels.

Along the way she mixed with a host of contemporary artists and intellectuals, including Marghanita Laski, Sally Graves, Phillip Toynbee, A J Ayer, the Bauhaus photographer Lucia Moholy and the painter Sir William Coldstream, whose portrait of her is held at the Tate Britain. She was briefly married to Stephen Spender and subsequently, more enduringly, to the poet and sociologist Charles Madge.

This edition of Spanish Portrait includes an afterword by her daughter, Vicky Randall.

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spanish portrait San Sebastian Madrid Civil War Inez Spender

ISBN 978-1-9996543-2-0       Cover design by Ivana Nohel.