The Purple Streak
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In this latest volume in Mr. Croft-Cooke's autobiographical series, he writes about the uneasy world of the 1930s and of Spain before the Civil War. On a personal level, he tells about his new venture into the secondhand book trade, when through patience and determination he managed to survive brilliantly where it would have been so easy to have failed. As a creative writer he battled through more ups and downs than would seem possible, yet always emerged triumphant, if scarred, determined to live by the profession he had chosen, no matter what the difficulties. Remembering, he writes now with charm and humour of the period and the people he knew, and he has recaptured vividly the world that surrounded a young professional writer struggling to keep his head above water.
The English author Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903-1979) published 30-odd novels on a wide variety of subjects in his lifetime, as well as poetry, plays, nonfiction books on such diverse topics as Buffalo Bill, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Victorian writers, criminals, the circus, gypsies, wine, cookery, and darts. Under the pen name of Leo Bruce he also wrote more than 30 crime novels. At the age of 20, Croft-Cooke spent two years in Buenos Aires, where he founded the journal La Estrella. In 1925 he returned to London and began a career as a freelance journalist and writer. His work appeared in a variety of magazines, including New Writing, Adelphi, and the English Review.
In the late 1920s the American magazine Poetry published several of his plays. He was also a radio broadcaster on psychology. In 1940 he joined the British Army and served in Africa and India until 1946. He later wrote several books about his military experiences. From 1953 to 1968 Croft-Cooke lived in Morocco where he wrote his Sensual World series, possibly his most important contribution to English letters, written as a series of 27 autobiography-cum-travel books.
the name of the tobacco he had smoked for thirty years and exchange pipefuls for the Doctor’s very different mixture. He could laugh over his crotchets and even tolerate my opinionated youth, giving his quiet smile, half hidden by his moustache, at the more outrageous of the remarks which Captain Gould encouraged me to make. For a few weeks Mr Brown was a character. Dr Warden, on the other hand, made this his summer holiday because he loved the sea and everything to do with it. He had served in
first builder made it three, four or five hundred years ago, but when we entered we found it had been expensively modernized. There was an excellent bathroom and parquet floors and the old house had been spruced up in many little ways. “A lot of money has been spent on it,” said the man showing us round and I could see this was true. When we went out into the walled garden behind the house there was an unnaturalness about it. How could one step from a parquet floor on to these ancient flags?
Say in about a week’s time. I may have some more for you,” was all he would say.  Before leaving Cheltenham I decided, but only out of curiosity, I assured myself, to look up an estate agent and see if he had a small house in the district to let. It was not where I had intended to live, but having come all this way, I suggested to my brother, we might just as well see what there was. A little masticating man with a pinched mouth and rodent eyes looked sharply at me. “Cottage? No. No
about seven he thought it would be.  As if I had not heard and seen enough of things in the most hag-ridden literary traditions, I found the Puesdown Inn to be in outward appearance straight out of a ghost story by M. R. James, one of those lighted houses towards which the traveller makes after tramping the moors, the inn where he is greeted by ugly and mysterious people and put in a bedroom which will be supernaturally visited before the morning. I have not seen the Puesdown Inn for more
wisdom of this move I had absolutely none of my own abilities. Without that confidence I could not have reached even this point in progress. Without it, whether illusory or not, neither I nor any other writer could achieve anything at all. So I was making a fool of myself? Not really, for if it was all an abstraction, and I an untalented tyro writing bad novels, it was still worth it. It gave meaning and purpose to life; it gave happiness to me and perhaps to some undiscerning readers. It meant