‘After I had run away from school, no one knew what to do with me …’
Born in Shanghai in 1915, son of a wealthy rubber merchant, Denton Welch was dispatched to an English boarding school after his mother’s death. There he suffered, and soon absconded, forcing his father to bring him back to Shanghai where further travels and adventures ensued. Maiden Voyage (1943) is Welch’s semi-novelistic, beautifully observed account of these formative experiences.
Welch’s life was to be prove tragically short, and yet his luminous work has earned him a rich legacy of admirers. Alan Bennett has said, ‘Denton Welch’s subject matter had a richness and a colour that links him with very unlike writers, such as Dylan Thomas, Edith Sitwell and Christopher Fry, all of whom were standing out against the drabness of their times.’ While no less than William Burroughs rated Welch as ‘such a marvellous writer.’
We have one copy of Maiden Voyage to give away to the winner of our quiz. To win, first take a look at the following question:
Among Welch’s many literary admirers was a critic who described Welch’s prose as ripening ‘like an October pear that measures every hour of sunshine against the inevitable frost.’ This critic had a special interest in prodigious literary talent, having authored a book of his own entitled Enemies of Promise. Name that critic!