The Purple Streak
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In this latest volume in Mr. Croft-Cooke's autobiographical series, he writes about the uneasy world of the 1930s and of Spain before the Civil War. On a personal level, he tells about his new venture into the secondhand book trade, when through patience and determination he managed to survive brilliantly where it would have been so easy to have failed. As a creative writer he battled through more ups and downs than would seem possible, yet always emerged triumphant, if scarred, determined to live by the profession he had chosen, no matter what the difficulties. Remembering, he writes now with charm and humour of the period and the people he knew, and he has recaptured vividly the world that surrounded a young professional writer struggling to keep his head above water.
The English author Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903-1979) published 30-odd novels on a wide variety of subjects in his lifetime, as well as poetry, plays, nonfiction books on such diverse topics as Buffalo Bill, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Victorian writers, criminals, the circus, gypsies, wine, cookery, and darts. Under the pen name of Leo Bruce he also wrote more than 30 crime novels. At the age of 20, Croft-Cooke spent two years in Buenos Aires, where he founded the journal La Estrella. In 1925 he returned to London and began a career as a freelance journalist and writer. His work appeared in a variety of magazines, including New Writing, Adelphi, and the English Review.
In the late 1920s the American magazine Poetry published several of his plays. He was also a radio broadcaster on psychology. In 1940 he joined the British Army and served in Africa and India until 1946. He later wrote several books about his military experiences. From 1953 to 1968 Croft-Cooke lived in Morocco where he wrote his Sensual World series, possibly his most important contribution to English letters, written as a series of 27 autobiography-cum-travel books.
holiday-maker returning from Spain talks in a large and travelled way of the corridas he has seen and repeats the names of fashionable matadors as schoolboys speak of cricket stars. Perhaps we are less squeamish now, or perhaps by going to Spain year after year English people have learned to see bull-fighting as the Spanish do and become blind to all but the essentials of it. Opponents of both compare bull-fighting with the blood sports of England in which some luckless wild animal whose whole
the Italian faction on the Zugerberg and owner of the Borsalino factories who had come to England to study, another ex-pupil from farther in the past, and often at week-ends my friend John Hitchcock from New Barn. There was also from that dormitory village of New Barn where once my father had lived, the charming young daughter of a Non-Conformist minister and newspaper proprietor named Sleep. Gwen was then nineteen with a peachbloom complexion, sleepy grey eyes and a rich contralto voice. She
or nearly so, and the dressy, affable, handsome people we saw might not have had a care in the world. At two o’clock in the morning when we returned to our hotel we left streets as wakeful and bright, as full of talkative strollers as we had seen eight hours earlier.  There was one other town at which we stopped for a night on that journey through Spain which left an impression both of beauty and of human distress so marked that I returned deliberately many years later to rediscover it. This
Georgian mansion set in tree’d parkland, with more cattle grazing not far from its windows. Then, passing a crucifix war memorial, we entered the village. There were perhaps fifteen habitations most of which were cottages for farm workers though one or two were larger, and one, an anomalous red brick affair built in the eighteenth century, had three floors and was known as the bailiff’s house. These lay in a fold of the hills and a stream came down from bare regions to the north and passed
eating, drinking, playing, talking, without pausing to wonder where it led, what would come of it, whether I was doing anything at all but move in pleasurable circles. But sometimes, as now, the questions caught up with me. These were no philosophical doubts, no “obstinate questionings of sense and outward things, Fallings from us, vanishings; Blank misgivings of a creature Moving about in worlds not realized.” If they had been doubts of that far deeper and more devastating kind which few of us