The Dog at Clambercrown

Jocelyn Brooke

05 October 2017
302 pages


The Dog at Clambercrown takes its name from a mysterious pub - seductive and frightening, never visited, only heard of – that fascinates Brooke’s child narrator in this beautiful and utterly original work of autobiographical fiction.

Both a journey through Europe and a return to the forbidden kingdoms of a Kentish childhood, the novel interweaves past and present as Brooke, responding to the magical potency of “Abroad”, summons the obsessions and terrors of his youth, and conjures an almost pagan vision of the English countryside – even as he sits down to tea with the Sicilian mafia.

First published in 1955, The Dog at Clambercrown epitomises what Anthony Powell termed as Brooke’s unique genre of “reminiscence lightly touched with fiction”. Disarmingly clever, deliciously opinionated and irrepressibly amusing, this neglected classic of gay literature is ripe for rediscovery.

‘One of the most interesting and talented of contemporary writers’ – Anthony Powell

‘He is subtle as the devil’ – John Betjeman

‘Here is a writer possessed by the magic—the voodoo—of childhood’ ­– New Statesman

Mr Jocelyn Brooke is one of the most interesting and talented of contemporary writers . . . we are left as delighted by the hundredth performance as we were at the first. It is magic—conjuring—of which we never tire: an example of what is called ‘art’.
. . . In this fourth autobiographical-fictional itinerary, the ways are more enchanted and twisty, the scent keener than ever. Here is a writer possessed by the magic—the voodoo—of childhood . . . Mr. Brooke is a pleasure to read—a highly individual pleasure.
A fugitive form of reminiscence, and often disarmingly clever, this has a very special appeal at an aesthetic-intellectual level