The aged king's retainer: Anthony Powell

the book:

A Buyer's Market by Anthony Powell

published 1952   set in 1928   section 1


[Narrator Nick Jenkins, out and about in London late at night, encounters Giles Deacon, an artist acquaintance, and a young woman]

 [Deacon] looked much the same, except that there was now something wilder – even a trifle sinister – in his aspect; a representation of Lear on the heath, or Peter the Hermit… the former role was additionally suggested by the undeniably boyish exterior of his companion, whose hair was cut short: barbered, in fact, in a most rough-and-ready fashion in the style then known as an ‘Eton crop’. This young woman might, so far as outward appearances were concerned, have passed easily on the stage for the aged king’s retainer, for, although her manner was more actively combative than the Fool’s, the shortness of her skirt, and bare knees, made her seem to be clad in a smock, or tunic, of the kind in which the part is sometimes played…

Miss Gypsy Jones nodded to us, without showing much sign of friendliness. Her face was pale, and she possessed an almost absurdly impudent expression… she looked like a thoroughly ill-conditioned errand boy.

observations: Nick Jenkins is accompanied by Widmerpool, who rather unexpectedly will become entangled with Gypsy Jones – he will end up paying for an abortion for her, though the child is not his. Widmerpool is famously a great comic creation, his career threaded through the Dance to the Music of Time sequence of novels, running as he enters the first book, running at the end of Hearing Secret Harmonies, by which time he is – like the character above – a Lear-like figure. Nick Jenkins will also sleep with her. Gypsy Jones – small, neat, feisty, free with her sexual favours – sounds a lot like Louise Brooks in manner and character, although there is no indication that Gypsy is as outrageously beautiful as Brooks was.

Links up with: A Buyer’s Market has featured
before, and Louise Brooks is mentioned in this entry and has a starring role in this book.

The picture of Louise Brooks can be found on
Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I love the whole 'Dance to the Music of Time' series. I hadn't thought of Louise Brooks as Gypsy Jones. She could also be the Pamela Widmerpool figure too.


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