Today comes word Wilfrid Sheed has passed and when I saw the obituary in today's NY Times, I had to pause because I met Mr. Sheed twenty-eight years ago and then, he impressed me as someone quite infirm. --Of course I was greatly mistaken.
I was a Very Young Person, toiling in the Manhattan caverns of book publishing and Mr. Sheed had found at temporary home at my employer, E.P. Dutton. He had written one of his memoirs, this one about Clare Boothe Luce and how the Great Lady sheltered and nurtured Mr. Sheed. It's one of those books that reads as if we are listening to someone reminice while we're both comfortably enscounced in the Algonquin's Oak Room on a winter afternoon with just enough sherry.
The fact that Mr. Sheed was a polio survivor probably influenced how I regarded him, but there was more than that. Mr. Sheed was a connection to another time and sensibility. He was a graduate of Lincoln College, Oxford Univeristy and had much, much more in common with Evelyn Waugh and Chesterton than the most popular writer of his own era, John Irving (and that's another story I'll need to type up one day).
God bless you, Mr. Sheed.