While I wouldn't call Rupert Croft-Cooke a "favorite" author, his book about late Victorian authors and artists who took sexual paths "less well traveled," Feasting with Panthers, was a highlight of my college days in the mid 1970s--and introduced me to a number of interesting figures, including Count Stenbock and Ada Leverson.
I was thinking of procuring a copy of the book for summer reading, and found this fascinating long essay about Croft-Cooke's life. I had no idea he had a career as a successful detective novelist under the alias of Leo Bruce:
There are numerous quoteworthy passages here, but I'll leave you with this one:
To raise money for a trip to Spain in 1932, ostensibly to work on a novel, Croft-Cooke and a friend, author Michael Harrison, concocted a purely cynical venture to publish a purported expose of drugs and sexual depravity in London, written in the style of “Sunday journalism of the baser sort wrapped in hypocritical pomposity,” which they entitled The Cloven Hoof: A Study of Contemporary London Vices. The pair spent “a couple of laughing weeks” accumulating material, in the end cobbling together “an amateur production, full of inaccuracies,” that fortunately drew no attention from the press, The Policewoman’s Gazette excepted. Croft-Cooke consoled himself that the stunt had raised him his thirty pounds and done no one any harm. He likely would be amused today to see The Cloven Hoof cited seriously in academic monographs.
Men Click Like! Haunted Parasol Girl and Fierce Snap Diva Never near My brittle heart dare venture you or any Striver or talker...I am the glass girl of a crazy tale All men, except those very big men who are supermen, have something astonishingly despicable in them What would you see in your proud land, Petrarch, If you came back again to Italy, And in the Garden of the Medici Could listen to the nightingale or lark And dream of Laura in the fragrant dark?
Mr Croft-Cooke had a lengthy career as Leo Bruce, writing a string of detective novels about Carolus Deene, a slightly aesthetic Don, and prior to that Sgt Beef, a stolid a copper as his name suggests. One of his first Beef novels (if not the first, some to thin of it) takes the piss splendidly out of Lord Peter Wimsey, Hercule Poirot, and Father Brown as three thinly disguised amateur sleuths cock up an investigation which the plodding and determined Beef solves with relative calm. Bloody iconoclast.