Susannah Clapp

Susannah Clapp was an editor at the LRB from its founding in 1979 until 1992. She has been Observer’s theatre critic since 1997 and has written books on Bruce Chatwin and Angela Carter.

Splashed with Stars: In Stoppardian Fashion

Susannah Clapp, 16 December 2021

Tom Stoppard wrote​ Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead while listening to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’. He would like to have written Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen. Threaded into each of his plays is a coded tribute: an MP in Dirty Linen, a clerk in The Invention of Love and two characters in Leopoldstadt are all called...

At the V&A: ‘Bags: Inside Out’

Susannah Clapp, 20 May 2021

The best ever riff​ on bags was written by Lucy Ellmann in her novel Doctors and Nurses (2006). In swirling prose she attacks – as if just knocking it out – the essential points about these essential accessories. The quick character guide they offer: ‘Tiny shiny hand-held PODS for flighty ice maidens; galumphing CARPET-BAGS for the jilted and jaded’. The utter...

Each of us is a snowball: Squares are best

Susannah Clapp, 22 October 2020

Ifyou live in London, squares are best. They have a plot. They tilt the natives away from secrecy and hoarding – from their hidden back gardens – towards a shared space. One end isn’t grander than the other; indeed, unless you are a postwoman, it won’t be clear where they start and finish. Ideal for snoopers, snipers, novelists, cartoonists and daydreamers, squares...

On David King

Susannah Clapp, 21 June 2018

In the days​ before artists brought colour to the cover, the London Review of Books was black and white. Of course, originally, it had no front at all: the first edition, in 1979, was meekly folded into the New York Review of Books. The following year it jumped out of that pouch and into a world where literary journals were routinely typographical. Not all faces around the editorial table...

The Buffalo in the Hall: Beryl Bainbridge

Susannah Clapp, 5 January 2017

Acting came in handy. She knew how to cut a dash, draw the gaze, and deflect it. An air of vagueness – and a celebrated stuffed buffalo in the hall of her house – fed into constricted ideas about women who write books. Big brain or scatterbrain? Bainbridge had a fringe and was skinny; she looked like a chanteuse. Bingo: she was one of the dippy ones. She colluded with this.

Hairy Fairies: Angela Carter

Rosemary Hill, 10 May 2012

Angela Carter didn’t enjoy much of what she called ‘the pleasantest but most evanescent kind of fame’.

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The Best Barnet

Jeremy Harding, 20 February 1997

Susannah Clapp’s memoir of Bruce Chatwin has little in the way of hard-going and nothing of the comprehensive record that bloats a literary biography. It makes no claims about the relation...

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