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Legendary Authors and the Clothes They WoreGood grief, who knew that Samuel Beckett was so handsome—or so cool? Famous for his enigmatic ways, the groundbreaking author’s timeless sense of style and nonchalance is still evident in today’s most popular menswear.

Not even a Nobel Prize in Literature could pry Beckett away from rugged independence. His award went unacknowledged, not unlike other offers of acclaim. Beckett’s personal letters reveal that he practically gave Trinity College Dublin the middle finger in exchange for the honorary degree they awarded him.

“I have no clothes but an old brown suit, if that’s not good enough, they can stick their Litt.D. up among their piles,” he wrote. Well. If Beckett’s insouciance was revolutionary then, it’s even more so now that self-promotion has become like a second job for many of us.

Beckett’s sense of style is mined in Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore, a new book that deserves a spot on your summer reading list. If you’re drawn to fashion and literature, you’re in for a treat. Author Terry Newman weaves the two subjects together in a riveting collection of short, digestible essays that capture the role of clothes in the lives and works of 49 well-known authors. 

If you collect fashion books, don’t even think about borrowing this one from the library. This is a buy and hold book, as remarkable for the vintage photos as for Newman’s sparkling prose.

Quote by Virginia WoolfFeast on photos of Sylvia Plath, trapped in a restrictive code of conduct for women, but dressed as a 1950s dream. Or Virginia Woolf in a messy bun and fluid clothes—a look that Newman describes as “an eccentric synthesis that preceded Prada’s geek chic by seventy years or so.” Woolf wrote for British Vogue in the 1920s and had such a passion for clothes that she wanted to use her writing to discover why they mattered to her so much.

For time-starved readers, it’s a doubly good summer read. You can pick it up and work your way through it in short bursts.

What’s on your summer reading list? We’re headed to the beach next week and I’m having my usual dilemma: how many can/should I carry? If you like this post, will you do me a favor? Share this link in your social network with an invitation to follow the DHD Vintage Facebook page. If you like the blog, your friends may like it, too. 

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.