Tony Gould

Tony Gould is the author of Inside Outsider: The Life and Times of Colin MacInnes.

Solitude and Multitude

Tony Gould, 13 February 1992

According to his friend from a younger generation, the Chilean writer and diplomat Jorge Edwards, the most enigmatic thing about Pablo Neruda was the way he could switch in one bound, so to speak, from solitude to sociability. This poet of the sea and of lonely places was also one of the most gregarious people Edwards has ever known. Neruda discusses the contrasting attractions of ‘solitude and multitude’ in his Memoirs:

Stanley and the Women

Tony Gould, 25 July 1991

One can see the attraction of Henry Morton Stanley for the modern biographer. There is the intriguing rags-to-riches story of a Welsh bastard and orphan, whose childhood in the workhouse seemed to mark him out for a life of crime, and whose shifty adventures in early manhood gave little indication of the great explorer to come. Then there is the sexual ambivalence, the ‘was he or wasn’t he homosexual?’ and, after his late marriage, the ‘did he or didn’t he do it with his wife?’ What about the modern reader? Will he read one volume, let alone two, on the life of H.M. Stanley?

Nothing has really happened to me during these 16 years: I’ve not lost anybody, any relative or friend; one or two friends are now living outside the country, but that’s all. I never suffered anything; I’ve not been persecuted, nothing. Only once, I was under arrest for eight hours. Those eight hours were because I was visiting a friend who had been taken to gaol and I was held there for a little interrogation – quite cordial and friendly and respectful. So nothing happened to me. And yet I don’t think there is anything in my life that is half as important to me as the coup. The rest is nothing compared to that. Up to that point I was interested only in Medieval Spanish literature. Now I can’t understand it: how could I?’

Father and Son

Tony Gould, 23 June 1988

You would have to be a Martian not to know that Tumbledown was the name of one of the few serious battles in the Falklands campaign and that Robert Lawrence was the platoon commander in the 2nd Battalion, the Scots Guards, who had 40 per cent of his brain removed by a sniper’s bullet after he had earned himself a Military Cross by his bravery. Even before the film was shown on BBC television on 31 May Robert Lawrence had appeared on Wogan and been interviewed on radio, When the fighting is over had been serialised in the Observer, and the Daily Mail had chosen to question some of the assertions made by the Lawrences, père et fils, in their book.

Shaky Do

Tony Gould, 5 May 1988

Michael Burn assumes in this book that the name of Richard Hillary means nothing to present-day readers, so the reviewer had better follow his practice and provide biographical details. Although he was born in Australia shortly after the end of the First World War, Hillary came to England at an early age and had a thoroughly English upper middle-class education – prep school, followed by public school (Shrewsbury) and Oxford (Trinity College). Despite the influence of his English teacher at Shrewsbury, he was more hearty than aesthete and chiefly distinguished himself at Trinity by his feats on the river. As he later put it, ‘I went up for my first term, determined, without over-exertion, to row myself into the government of the Sudan, that country of blacks ruled by Blues in which my father had spent so many years.’’


D.A.N. Jones, 5 November 1992

For the British, South America is perhaps the darkest of the continents: only rarely and faintly has it entered our history, provoked our armies, disturbed our empire and commonwealth....

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Angela and Son

Dan Jacobson, 2 August 1984

The most interesting parts of the lives of writers often enough take place before they become writers. In Colin MacInnes’s case, one might say that some of the most interesting parts of his...

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