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THE BIBLIO FILE is one of the world's leading podcasts about "the book" and an inquiry into the wider world of book culture. Hosted by NIGEL BEALE it features wide ranging conversations with authors, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other best practitioners on Robert Darnton's "communications circuit."

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Oct 19, 2021

For years Paul Delaney was professor of English at the University of Moncton; prior to this he taught at various institutions in London, England. During his lifetime he has had an ongoing interest in Acadian genealogy, a topic upon which he continues to publish and conduct research.  
 
His biography of  Charles de Sousy Ricketts (1866-1931), published in 1990, was the first major study of a man whose "spirited career encompassed many aspects of late Victorian and Edwardian culture," including fine press book design and production, stage design, typography, painting, sculpture, art criticism, and art collecting. Friends included W.B. Yeats, Thomas Moore, ​A. E. ​Housman, ​Oscar Wilde and many other luminaries of the period
 
Drawing upon a wide range of material​, much of it unpublished​ and/​or newly discovered​ at the time​, ​​Delaney ​"​reveals a man of strong opinions and artistic convictions"​ ​who despite a ​fierce opposition to Post Impressionism and ​​Modernism​, was noted for his love and deep ​knowledge of art, as well as his ​wit, ​conviviality, generosity and ​artistic ​versatility.​​​ ​​Delaney's biography illuminates cultural and artistic​ life in England​ during the 1890s and early decades of the​ 20th​ century​, and provides a detailed portrait of one of the period's great personalities. 
 
​Ricketts, during his lifetime, established a reputation as a​ great​ art connoisseur​. In 1915 ​he ​turned down ​an offer ​to become director of the National Gallery​, a decision he later regretted​. He did however ​serve​ "disastrously" as adviser to the National Gallery of Canada from 1924 until his death in 1931. ​He also wrote three books of art criticism, two volumes of short stories and a memoir of ​Oscar ​Wilde. Selections from his letters and diaries were​ ​published​ posthumously​.
 
I met with Paul Delaney at his home in Moncton, New Brunswick, where we talked about, among other things, his nom de plume  (J. G. P. Delaney), about Ricketts of course, and his adventurous mother; about Ricketts' long time companion artist Charles Shannon; about publisher and editor Rupert Hart Davis, and about Paul's experience writing the biography of artist Glyn Philpot.