Snob’s Progress

Review of Cecil Beaton: A Biography, by Hugo Vickers. New York Times, June 15, 1986.

CECIL BEATON, who died six years ago at the age of 76, was an English photographer, set designer, illustrator, portraitist and writer. Critics used to argue over whether he was a true artist in any of these pursuits or merely slick. But on one point everybody, tout le monde, agreed. Cecil Beaton was a great snob. He was not just a big snob but a great snob, an ingenious snob and a daredevil on top of that, a perfect snob and a snob clear through. So much so, that this book by Hugo Vickers, the biographer Beaton chose shortly before he died, turns out to be something Beaton may not have envisioned: an enormous, sloughing, tireless, unsparing, inch-by-inch trench-warfare chronicle of an English snob’s progress through the 20th century…

New York Times