Sir Harold Acton dies in Italy at 89

March 01, 1994|By New York Times News Service

LONDON -- Sir Harold Acton, a scholar, poet and historian who was legendary as the consummate esthete of his generation, died on Sunday at his family's Renaissance villa on a hillside overlooking Florence, Italy. He was 89.

He had been in frail health for some time, friends said.

A son of Sir Arthur Acton, who came from a family of Shropshire baronets, and of Hortense Mitchell, a wealthy American, Sir Harold wrote more than a score of books, ranging from novels to memoirs, biographies and essays on Chinese poetry.

In the 1920s, Sir Harold became the undisputed leader of the "dandy esthetes," a label he willingly embraced and later used in the title of the first volume of his autobiography, "Memoirs of an Esthete." He was in part the role model for the quintessential esthete, Anthony Blanche in "Brideshead Revisited," written by his old friend Evelyn Waugh.

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