Lord Berners

Lord Berners (1883-1950) was one of the most idiosyncratic and fascinating personalities in British music. This quintessential English eccentric was a composer, novelist, painter, memoirist, and conspicuous aesthete. The character of Lord Merlin in Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love is patterned on Lord Berners, who would dip his pigeons into basins of magenta, green, and ultramarine so that when released they resembled, as Mitford wrote, “a cloud of confetti in the sky.” Known as “The English Satie,” Berners as composer collaborated with Balanchine, Diaghilev, and Gertrude Stein. His writing here and in his other three memoirs, First Childhood, A Distant Prospect, and Chateau de Resenlieu, all published by Turtle Point Press with Helen Marx Books, is its own inspired genre.