Letter: Michael Noakes had an independent streak as a portrait painter

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Michael Noakes self-portrait
Detail from a Michael Noakes self-portrait, 1958. Illustration: Courtesy of the Ruth Borchard Collection

It may well be that  “was never known to exercise”, but he made an exception in 2006 when he and his wife, the writer, editor and critic Vivien Noakes, walked around on a tour of Whitechapel in the East End of London, the culmination of an Isaac Rosenberg study day at Toynbee Hall.

During it Vivien had spoken of her then recently published edition of Rosenberg’s poems and plays, then introduced a selection of poems and letters, read by Elliot Levey. Michael and Vivien also spoke about how difficult it had become for younger independent scholars to get started, and artists too. Just as Vivien was a fine example of the former, Michael certainly displayed an independent streak as a portrait painter.