Genius Friend

G.B. Edwards and The Book of Ebenezer Le Page

by Edward Chaney

Paperback, 416 pages, 93 illustrations

ISBN: 978-09928791-0-5

Publisher: Blue Ormer Publishing

About the Book

Since its publication in 1981, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by Gerald Edwards has been recognised as the greatest work of literature by a native Guernseyman, and indeed one of the most important novels of the twentieth century.

Edward Chaney, who befriended its reclusive author, was instrumental in getting his only novel published. This study reconstructs his Guernsey origins, being hailed as a ‘genius friend’ by his peers in Middleton Murry’s Adelphi circle in the 1920s, through to his descent into obscurity in the 1940s. The second part relates how Chaney met Edwards in Dorset in 1972, illustrated by the writer’s letters, and how the novel eventually came to be published in 1981, five years after the author’s death.


‘A consistently fascinating attempt to chart the life of a genuine literary outsider.’ D.J. Taylor, Times Literary Supplement

‘…the author’s researches and his personal knowledge of Edwards do bring this strange and wayward man to life.’ William Palmer, Literary Review

‘… we always considered him “our genius friend”’.  J.S. Collis, The Spectator

‘The letters show an impressive blend of honesty and self-humour … and I hope that one day Mr. Chaney will consider publishing parts of them.’   John Fowles, introduction to The Book of Ebenezer Le Page

‘A work of considerable research and scholarship … Gerald Edwards may still be a controversial figure, but [this] publication, it seems to me, is definitive.’  Sir Michael Holroyd

‘… a writer with rare and sometimes perverse gifts, who yet produced one astounding classic … In his last years he gave his trust and affection to Edward Chaney, whose matchless enthusiasm, perseverance and insight make him the best possible biographer of this puzzling misfit Guernseyman.’  Richard Davenport-Hines

About the Author

Edward Chaney is the Professor of Fine and Decorative Arts at Southampton Solent University, Visiting Professor at the New College of the Humanities and Braudel Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence.

He was an art student when he met Gerald Edwards but went on to do a PhD at the Warburg Institute in London and taught at Pisa University for six years.

He has published numerous books, specialising in the history of collecting, the Grand Tour, Inigo Jones and 20th-century British art. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries and a Commendatore of the Italian Republic.

Edward Chaney at the site of Ebenezer’s house at Chouet, Guernsey in 1991 (Courtesy Guernsey Press)