Tom Crewe

Tom Crewe’s first novel, The New Life, won the 2023 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. He is a contributing editor at the LRB.

Even a smile​ could put Charles Lamb in mind of death. ‘The fine ladies, or fine gentlemen, who show me their teeth,’ he wrote, ‘show me bones.’ He cared not ‘to be carried with the tide that smoothly bears human life to eternity’.

I am in love with this green earth, – the face of town and country, – the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the...

Irecently​ told someone that the day after the 2015 election was the worst of my life. It wasn’t much of an overstatement. The Conservative-Lib Dem coalition was so awful, so stupid and cynical and cruel in its austerity programme, that the news that the Tories, in defiance of all the opinion polls, had been rewarded for it with a majority – that George Osborne would continue as...

On the Shelf

Tom Crewe, 13 April 2023

It has always beensaid of George Meredith that, in the words of Oscar Wilde, ‘as a novelist he can do anything except tell a story.’ ‘Regarding narrative,’ J.B. Priestley declared, ‘every novel that Meredith wrote is not merely faulty but downright bad.’ On Meredith’s centenary in 1928, Arnold Bennett summarised the problem: ‘He wanders...

Short Cuts: Dickens and Prince

Tom Crewe, 5 January 2023

Iwas asked​ the other day to name my dream man and dream woman, and answered with Charles II and Mrs Oliphant – Charles II being the hottest of British monarchs (admittedly not a strong field) and Mrs Oliphant the most criminally underrated of 19th-century novelists (see The Ladies Lindores). These are two of ‘my people’, in the sense that Nick Hornby uses the phrase,...

Real Busters: Sickert Grows Up

Tom Crewe, 18 August 2022

Was​ the course of 20th-century British painting set when Walter Sickert decided he didn’t like standing out in the cold? His first biographer (and former student), Robert Emmons, insisted that ‘SICKERT IS ONE OF THE IMPRESSIONISTS’ on the grounds that, though not an original member, he was ‘so closely allied to them both in method and sentiment, as to take his place,...

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