On its appearance in 1952 the Times Literary Supplement called Hemlock and After 'a vel of remarkable power and literary skill which deserves to be judged by the highest standards'. Angus Wilson's first vel is concerned with the hypocrisies of middle-class society. The protagonist, Bernard Sands, is a velist and an intellectual who tries to found a centre for young writers. However, Sands is a secret homosexual and in the post-war Britain of the time his liberal ideas cause much anxiety to those in charge.Surrounded by false friends and scheming enemies Sands has to come to terms with his emotions and is forced to decide where his loyalties lie. A compassionately written vel Hemlock and After explores the conflict of duty and love in one man's life and the consequences of our choices. Written at a time when homosexuality was still an offence Hemlock and After is a brilliantly handled vel from a writer who was described by John Betjeman as 'mercilessly accurate and never dull.'
One of Britain's most distinguished novelists Sir Angus Wilson was born in 1913. Educated at Westminster and Merton College, Oxford he joined the British Museum as a cataloguer before being called for service in 1941. His literary career began with a collection of short-stories published in 1949. These were followed by other short-story collections, novels and plays. Co-founder with Malcolm Bradbury of the MA programme in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Wilson was appointed professor in 1967. Chair of many literary panels, including the Booker prize, and campaigner for homosexual equality he was knighted in 1980. He died in 1991.