In "No Voice From the Hall", John Harris recollected his covert entry into empty and deserted houses in the years after World War II. In this volume he broadens his sights, sometimes straying into Europe or as far off as Malaya and the USA. We hear of Ruler Matlock who set him against formal education, of his antics during his very short apprenticeship as an upholsterer at Heal's, and of his brief yet profitable curatorship of the Grotto of the Four Winds at the Battersea Pleasure Gardens. As the tales proceed, new comrades join in the snooping, and in France in 1953, he was befriended by Richard Penard, the great French collector and his trespassing continued. He visited the Desert de Retz to find the faded glory of the China House and the Broken Column, and experienced the bohemian life of a student on the Left Bank in Paris. At Paul Melon's Oak Spring in Virginia, he was awakened by "gangsters" and he goes on to tell us about MI5 bugging Anthony Blunt's rooms above the RIBA's drawing collection.
John Harris was joint organizer of the celebrated 'Destruction of the Country House' exhibition at the Vistoria and Albert Museum in 1974. He has also published many books on architecture, gardens, the decorative arts and architectural drawings. He is now Curator Emeritus of the Royal Institute of British Architects' Drawings Collection. He lives in London and Badminton.