Martin Boyd as ‘Walter Beckett’
Martin Boydhad no particular affection for the early novels which he published under the pseudonym 'Martin Mills'. The first two, Love Gods and Brangane, he preferred to forget, and although he was willing, in 1963, to give his own name to the revised version of The Montforts, he thought of it as immature work, and resented the critical attention it drew (so he believed) at the expense of later and better books. Terence O'Neill's recent discovery of another novel of the 1920s, Dearest Idol, is a welcome contribution to Boyd scholarship but it would not have pleased Boyd much. Successfully hidden under the pseudonym 'Walter Beckett' at the time of its publication, and forgotten thereafter, Dearest Idol is certainly Boyd's weakest published novel. But now, after nearly fifty years of understandable obscurity, its emergence can only contribute to a secure reputation, because of the opportunity it gives to study more closely Boyd's growth as a novelist, from uncertain beginnings to the considerable accomplishment of Lucinda Brayford and the Langton novels.
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