I'm very glad to finally have this book but what struck me is how slim it is compared to many a designer monograph about people still living and who are much younger now than Geoffrey Bennison was when he died thirty-one years ago. The book's slimness does rather belie the excellent quality of its contents. The problem, of course, is that Geoffrey Bennison died relatively young (sixty-three years old) and his oeuvre is small – yet Gillian Newberry did not subtitle her book about Bennison Master Decorator for nothing, so full of treasures is it.
I have written a number of times about Bennison (see sidebar Labels) including him as a member of the Lost Generation though his name was not forgotten, as are the names of many. The author of this book, with others, kept the Bennison name in front of the public through his fabric designs and now, splendidly, with this book.
In the introduction, John Richardson, calls his friend Geoffrey Bennison "England's best decorator" and this book goes a long way to proving his point. Bennison, however camp he might have been in his humor and way of commenting at life, was no satin britches, powder and patch kind of decorator.
I'll keep my opinion to myself as to whether or not he was the best but see how many times I have written about him. I sought photographs of the Lord Weidenfeld rooms above for a long time, having glimpsed them once but never found them, and here they are in all their literary splendor. Some of my favorite Bennison rooms.
A 19th-century automaton of a seated pasha
which smokes a hookah and raises a coffee cup to its lips
In Bennison's living room
This is a book entirely worth having. Believe me, you will pore over it and go back to it time after time. It is a treasure.
I'm making this recommendation purely for the pleasure of doing so – my only recompense. Oh, and I bought my copy here.