George Melly


George Melly was a character impossible to ignore in London cultural circles between the 1950s and 1990s. He first came to attention as a jazz singer, notable for risqué songs performed with verve rather than with great technical ability. An arresting personality, Melly also dressed the part: his outrageous suits became a trademark, and his talents as a raconteur soon brought him fame as a TV talkshow guest, though usually late-night for reasons of propriety… His three-volume autobiography is a classic that seems unlikely ever to go out of print, and the cheerful bisexualism it describes first scandalised, then delighted a public whose own sexual attitudes changed over the course of these decades.

Don’t Tell Sybil is a supplementary volume of autobiography which treats in more detail Melly’s youthful and long-lasting attraction to Surrealism, and his equally lengthy friendship with the contradictory character who headed up the English Surrealist group: E.L.T. Mesens. Their adventures and vicissitudes form the core of this book (adventures ELT was keen should not get back to his wife, Sybil, hence the book’s title). Mesens was a perfect subject, an extravagant prankster who could nevertheless be as punctilious and stingy as the most respectable bourgeois. Anecdotes of the artists who showed at Mesens’s gallery — especially Schwitters and Magritte — pepper the narrative, a hugely affectionate memoir by a character who was truly larger than life…

This new edition is augmented with previously unpublished photographs relating to Melly and to English Surrealism.

Atlas Anti-classic 20.


2013, ISBN: 1 900565 65 X, 224pp, hardback with decorated endpapers, illustrated in b+w.
SKU: 1 900565 65 X Categories: ,

Additional information

Weight .51 kg
Dimensions 17.5 × 19.5 cm