John Waters once said nothing is more impotent than an unread library. In this episode, the cult film director responsible for such enduring cult classics as Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Cry Baby and Hairspray talks about Serious Pleasures, Philip Hoare’s extraordinary biography of Stephen Tennant, one of the so-called Bright Young Things who fascinated and scandalized 1920s Britain, alongside other headline-grabbing figures of the day such as Cecil Beaton and the Mitford sisters. “I like to be taken into a world that’s very foreign to me, and learn something,” he says. “I like somebody who’s smart, and who can talk about their feelings. That’s why I like biographies, just to see mistakes that people made, and what they did with success and failure.” What does he love about the life of Tennant? “I love that he went to bed for 17 years because life made him too giddy.” In this episode we also talk to Philip Hoare, the author of Serious Pleasures, about the challenges of writing a biography when your subject has just died.
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