First published in 1991, this is Dirk Bogarde's fourth novel.
With his divorce proceedings looming, writer William Caldicott is in desperate need of some respite. As fate would have it, he receives a cryptic letter of farewell from his estranged brother James, along with the keys to James' house France.
Sensing the potentially reformative aspect of such a break, William sets out in search of his brother. He rapidly becomes embedded in the fabric of rural France, learning that rumours travel quickly, and that connections and secrets are paramount. He eventually finds the remarkable little house, but as he delves deeper and deeper into his brother's strange life, William discovers things that will make him wish he stayed at home.
First published in 1997, this is Dirk Bogarde's sixth and final novel.
The Grayles have lived at Hartleap since Canute. They know this and are proud of the fact. Now they stand around the deathbed of their longest-serving nanny who is about to slip away.
Ada Stephens - known as Nanny Grayle and well into her nineties - will not go quietly. In the strange clarity that comes with the last remission, she looks at the saddened faces about her and surprises them all. She says that the most adored of her charges, Rufus, is 'tainted' and that his father, the revered war hero 'Beau' Grayle, was 'wicked'. None of them is going to get anything in her will - she has left everything to her nephew, Robert.
Thus begins the final demolition of a once-proud house.
Slowly, from Sunday to Thursday, as they attend to the many small duties that follow death, dark secrets unravel. The family must face the fact that their way of life, and the glory that was Hartleap, will slide into Nanny's grave with her. As terrible truths become known, they must desperately try to close ranks.
Originally published in 1980, this is Dirk Bogarde's first novel.
In the uneasy aftermath of WWII, a group of ordinary British soldiers and their families find themselves stationed as peacekeepers at an outpost in the Java Sea. Whilst attempting to return the island to Dutch control, they are subject to violent attacks by the locals who want their freedom.
As the Empire crumbles, the island is plunged into chaos and violence amidst a nationalist uprising. Selfishness, sex, greed, fear and revenge, all play their part; though so too do the finer instincts of love, loyalty and concern. At times gloriously funny, never sitting in judgement, Dirk Bogarde portrays mankind's fallible, complex humanity as the thin skin of conventional behaviour, tautened in the corrosive atmosphere of Southeast Asia, gradually begins to split.
First published in 1994, this is Dirk Bogarde's fifth novel.
Following on from his previous novel, Jericho, evoking the manifold themes and compelling rural French atmosphere of its predecessor, A Period of Adjustment tells the story of William Caldicott. His ruined marriage spurred him on to obey his estranged brother's letter, which asked him take a house in the south of France.
Upon discovering the tragic fate of his brother James, William, accompanied by his son, attempts to rebuild his life - only to find it be attacked from another, far too personal front. A moving portrait of loss, France, summer and all of life's dramas.
First published 1981, this is Dirk Bogarde's second novel.
The fabulous but wavering old Lady "Cuckoo†? Peverill, lives with her husband, Napoleon-mad military historian, Archie. Dissatisfied and overcome by sheer boredom, she ventures down to the lake at the edge of their estate, pockets filled with stones, she begins to walk into the water. Before she is too deeply submerged, she is pulled away by sparsely-clothed drifter, Marcus Pollock.
Feigning that he merely saved her from an 'accident', he is brought back to the villa, where he moves in. Cue the arrival of Marcus' girlfriend, as well as a whole horde of eccentric film-makers and you have the stage set for an effortlessly entertaining story. Set in Cap Ferrat, in one of the last great villas of the twenties, Voices in the Garden is a heart-felt tale of mature and immature love.
First published in 1984, this is Dirk Bogarde's third novel.
Set in the shadow of Hollywood opulence - the gaudy wastes of Los Angeles - West of Sunset is a sharp and potent satire of movie-making America. However, the excessive glitter is embedded in a deeper plot about a successful man's fall from grace. Hugo Arlington, a celebrated young writer, had the power to destroy people. His widow, Alice, is not the only person to be haunted by his death and life, and gradually the truth about the dangerous games Hugo played comes to light, and the past comes crashing into the present.
West of Sunset is an amusing and rich depiction of a world that Bogarde himself came to know and loathe.
First published in 1989, A Particular Friendship follows Dirk Bogarde's first four memoirs
This epistolary collection finds Bogarde at his most honest and touching, engaging in conversation with a woman he has never met, and whose only interest in him comes from the simple fact that he now happens to live in a house that she once owned.
These letters provide an insight into the wit and intelligence of a great man without the stifling constraints of other literary forms. it presents us with a platform and a relationship that allowed Bogarde to freely reminisce, discuss politics, and gossip about those around him.
The correspondences were all written before Bogarde saw himself as an author and stand as a testament to his literary talent, domestic sensibilities, and his unquestionable compassion in sharing so much with a complete stranger.
First published in 1983, An Orderly Man is volume three of Dirk Bogarde's best-selling memoirs
After completing work on Visconti's Death in Venice, the celebrated actor seeks a refuge from 20 years of 'continual motion'. This dream of a peaceful retreat materialises itself in the form of a neglected farmhouse in the South of France. However, before he is rewarded with the calm he craves, he is forced to endure the relative evils of dying olive trees and the rampaging mistral.
In this pursuit of the tranquil, Bogarde manages to portray the simplest of issues in the most delicate and humane way. This volume also covers the years in which Dirk Bogarde gave some of his finest acting performances and began his career as a gifted writer, imposing order on a rich and varied life.
First published in 1986, Backcloth is volume four of Dirk Bogarde's best-selling memoirs
Filling the gaps left between his previous memoirs, as well as highlighting new episodes, Backcloth explores the patterns of pleasure and pain that have made up Bogarde's extraordinary life.
Based on personal letters, notebooks and diaries and covering many aspects of a celebrated life, we share experiences from his family home in Hampstead through to his farmhouse retreat in Provence. This memoir highlights the people, emotions and experiences that made him into the man loved by so many.
Written with all the honesty, wit and intelligence that made Bogarde such a popular writer, Backcloth is both eloquent and touching.
First published in 1992, Great Meadow is volume five of Bogarde's best-selling memoirs
Employing both the language and lucidity of the young boy that he evokes, the actor turned author, Dirk Bogarde, presents us with a charming recollection of his childhood. From 1927 to 1934 he lived in a remote cottage in the Sussex Downs with his sister Elizabeth and their strict but loving nanny, Lally. For the children it was an idyllic time of joy and adventure: of gleaning at the end of summer, of oil lamps and wells, of harvests and harvest mice in the Great Meadow.
With sensitivity and poignancy, this memoir captures the sounds, scents, love and gentleness that surrounded the young boy as the outside world prepared to go to war.
First published in 1997, Cleared for Take-Off is the seventh and final volume of Dirk Bogarde's best-selling memoirs
During his many reconnaissance missions in Europe and the Far East, the young Bogarde experienced the terror of enemy attack and the horror of its aftermath, together with the intense camaraderie and bitter humour of the battlefield. He also felt, like countless others, a feeling of utter hopelessness at the war's end, when these youthful, but hardened comrades-in-arms were dispersed to find their feet in a traumatised world.
Less than a year after demob, Bogarde found himself starring in his third feature film with car, chauffeur and five-storey house in Chester Row. He had somehow 'arrived' in the movies.
First published in 1998, For the Time Being brings together Dirk Bogarde's published work outside of his novels and autobiographies
In 1988, Dirk Bogarde returned from two idyllic decades in France to live in England, due to his partner's serious illness. Shortly afterwards, the then literary editor of the Daily Telegraph, admiring the 'lucid frankness' of Bogarde's memoirs, invited him to review some books for the newspaper.
This collection includes the famous article 'A Short Walk from Harrods', which Bogarde wrote for the Independent on Sunday soon after returning to London. In it he describes what it feels like to walk among familiar ghosts and to dine with those he considers 'the living dead'. A momentous review of three Holocaust books is accompanied by an article in which he describes the extraordinary postbag he received from its readers. In another piece which had a profound impact, he gives forceful vent to his support for euthanasia.
It stands as a testimony to a wonderfully varied life, a wide range of interests and sympathies, and a remarkable gift for writing.
First published in 1993, A Short Walk from Harrods is volume six of Dirk Bogarde's best-selling memoirs
Forced to return to London because of his manager and his partner's rapidly deteriorating health, Bogarde learned to re-adapt to life in the west London neighbourhoods that groomed him as an aspiring young actor. With his fame fading and his descent into old age, the entire process had become rather difficult to endure. He writes of stalking the streets like an 'apologetic turtle' and avoiding society, announcing that he would, from then on, only do 'matinees' because he is too tired to go out in the evenings.
Although this memoir finds Bogarde at his most vulnerable, he retains the lucidity and charm that makes his writing so enjoyable. As ever, he expresses a deep sentimentality that ensures no detail goes unnoticed or unfelt.
First published in 1977, A Postillion Struck by Lightning is volume one of Dirk Bogarde's best-selling memoirs
Following Bogarde from childhood through adolescence, to the beginnings of his budding career, A Postillion Struck by Lightning is a heartfelt memoir, offering insight into what created the drive and charisma that eventually made him a star. Dreamy, sun-soaked summers full of freedom spent with his younger sister are mixed with holidays in France and rambling the countryside.
Writing plays instead of playing sports, Dirk's talents lay in the creativity of painting and expression rather than in the precision of maths or science, much to the growing concern of his parents. Packed off to live with relatives in Scotland, his father hoped that a proper Scottish education would equip his son to follow in his footsteps for a career in Newspapers.
In Scotland, Dirk learned to defend himself, to sound like a native Glaswegian, and to hide his intense homesickness. In essence; he learned to act.
First published in 1978, Snakes and Ladders is volume two of Dirk Bogarde's best-selling memoirs
Snakes and Ladders follows Bogarde from the challenges of his army training camp at Catterick, through the horrors of war, to his glittering - if often trying - film career. We see the thoughtful boy finding his way alongside his fellow recruits, to emerge from the war a thoughtful man, shaped in many ways by his harrowing experiences.
Somewhat falling into his career, Dirk struggled with the demands that such great success brings with it. With personal insight into his close friendship with Judy Garland, his working method with Visconti, and his many vital relationships with friends and family, Snakes and Ladders sheds an honest and not always flattering light on his life.