“I got to know Leonard as well as you
can do without meeting someone,” she continues. “I
got to know all his oddnesses, preoccupations, obsessions.
What made him angry. How he was rational to the point of irrationality.
People often ask me if I would have liked him as a friend.
He was a very good friend to women. He was a political feminist,
but he was a natural feminist, too. He was very appreciative
of the sort of work women did, including the hidden work that
a lot of women did in the offices of the newspapers and magazines
and publishers he worked in. I think he would have made a
rather good friend.”
Virginia Woolf, of course, has become far more famous than
her husband. I ask Glendinning if she feels Leonard would
be remembered today if he hadn’t married the writer.
“He would be remembered in different places for different
things. In Ceylon, where he spent a number of years on colonial
service, he is better known than his wife, because of his
first novel, The Voyage Out, which is set there, and still
in print there. Another place he has constituency is in the
field of international relations: his theories are still important
and discussed in academic institutions like the London School
of Economics. He has gone down in the annals of the Labour
Party as being their Eminence Grise in the period they were
first coming into power. A lot of the MP’s were from
the provinces, and were not particularly well educated or
experienced: he did a fantastic service advising, briefing,
educating, giving access to his hinterland of wisdom. He was
an influential journalist writing for and editing the New
Statesman, which was at the time required reading for the
chattering classes. He set up the Hogarth Press. He had a
bitty career, what we now call a portfolio career, because
he spent so much time looking after his wife’s needs.
But an important one in many ways.”