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Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... for housekeepers, repairs to tennis courts, swimming-pools; there’s even a suggestion that Douglas Hogg claimed for cleaning out his moat. The papers are suddenly full of pictures of Home Counties mansions set in acres of manicured lawns, straight out of Country Life, allegedly maintained at taxpayers’ expense. Proof, in case anyone has ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy, 4 March 1999

Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... 1935. (Rounding the Horn ends with his family tree, starting with ‘John Stallworthy d. 1744 and Ann d. 1771’ and running to ‘Jon b. 1935 and Jill b. 1938’ and the new generation, ‘Jonathan, Pippa and Nicolas’.) His father was a surgeon who settled down to a practice in Oxford. His mother was a housewife with a gift for music and a good ear for ...

A Vast Masquerade

Deborah Cohen: Dr James Barry, 2 March 2017

Dr James Barry: A Woman ahead of Her Time 
by Michael du Preez and Jeremy Dronfield.
Oneworld, 479 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 78074 831 3
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... precedents recounted in books such as The Female Soldier (about Snell) or the 1804 memoirs of Mary Ann Talbot, who claimed to have served in the navy during the French revolutionary wars. Among Bulkley’s few surviving letters is one to her wastrel brother John, written as he was shipping out with a penal regiment bound for the West Indies. She chided him for ...


Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides, 6 October 2011

The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... I craved academic and hipster respect of the kind that Pynchon and Gaddis got and Saul Bellow and Ann Beattie didn’t. But Bellow and Beattie, not to mention Dickens and Conrad and Brontë and Dostoevsky and Christina Stead, were the writers I actually, unhiply enjoyed reading.’ More and more ‘the postmodern programme, the notion of formal ...

Cardigan Arrest

Robert Potts: Poetry in Punglish, 21 June 2007

Look We Have Coming to Dover! 
by Daljit Nagra.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 571 23122 5
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... preservation, authenticity and vogueishness – have been dealt with explicitly by other writers: Douglas Dunn, Tony Harrison, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Agard, Grace Nichols and Tom Leonard, to name a few. For some, ‘literary art’ is a territory to be attained (Harrison’s ‘we’ll occupy/ your lousy leasehold, poetry’), in others a rule-book to be ...

Wedded to the Absolute

Ferdinand Mount: Enoch Powell, 26 September 2019

Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain 
by Paul Corthorn.
Oxford, 233 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 19 874714 7
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... than a touch of urban myth about the stories he told. Only four days after the Birmingham speech, Ann Dummett, wife of the philosopher Michael Dummett and a community relations officer in Oxford, wrote to the Times that the anecdote about the widow from Wolverhampton had been recounted to her in Oxford recently, but about an old lady in London: ‘Almost ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... not indulge in first-name familiarities on the lines of ‘Sidney Goes to the Gallows’ and ‘Ann (90) Fells Burglar.’ This first-naming of all and sundry is the curse of the age and is rendered no more acceptable by the fact that nurses and policemen do it. I wonder, though, if your Mr Dimbleby writes a book at the age of 88, will you refer to him ...
The New Select Committees: A Study of the 1979 Reforms 
edited by Gavin Drewry.
Oxford, 410 pp., £25, September 1985, 9780198227854
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Commons Select Committees: Catalysts for Progress? 
edited by Dermot Englefield.
Longman, 288 pp., £15, May 1984, 0 582 90260 6
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British Government and the Constitution: Text, Cases and Materials 
by Colin Turpin.
Weidenfeld, 476 pp., £25, September 1985, 0 297 78651 2
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Parliament in the 1980s 
edited by Philip Norton.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £19.50, July 1985, 0 631 14056 5
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... public debate on policy resulting from ministers and civil servants having to be accountable. Sir Douglas Wass, the former Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, admitted in his 1983 Reith Lectures that ‘the knowledge that your department is going to be examined in detail on the background to a policy statement is a great encouragement to be rigorous in ...

Furibundo de la Serna

Laurence Whitehead, 2 November 1995

The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey around South America 
by Ernesto Che Guevara, translated by Ann Wright.
Verso, 155 pp., £19.95, June 1995, 1 85984 942 3
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Che Guevara 
by Jean Cormier, with Hilda Guevara and Alberto Grando.
Editions du Rocher, 448 pp., frs 139, August 1995, 2 268 01967 5
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Journal de Bolivie 
by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, translated by Fanchita Gonzalez- Batlle and France Binard.
La Découverte, 256 pp., frs 120, August 1995, 2 7071 2482 6
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L’Année ou nous n’étions nulle part: Extraits du journal de Che Guevara en Afrique 
edited by Paco Ignacio Taibo, Froilán Escóbar and Félix Guerra, translated by Mara Hernandez and René Solis.
Métaillié, 281 pp., frs 120, September 1995, 2 86424 205 2
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... of Bolivia, General Rene Barrientos, apparently first consulted with the American Ambassador Douglas Henderson, then ordered Che to be summarily shot. (Jean Cormier’s new biography follows the Cuban line that this was a decision made in Washington.) Che’s diary of the Bolivian campaign was subsequently extracted from his captors, and published in ...

The First Person, Steroid-Enhanced

Hari Kunzru: Hunter S. Thompson, 15 October 1998

The Rum Diary 
by Hunter S. Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 204 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 9780747541684
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The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters. Vol. I 
by Hunter S. Thompson, edited by Douglas Brinkley.
Bloomsbury, 720 pp., £9.99, July 1998, 0 7475 3619 8
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... in the next breath he will write swoonily to a girlfriend: ‘you’re ... still the same Ann Frick I remember from what now seems a million hazy dreams ago.’ Just when you are comfortable with the oscillation between Byronic hellraiser and lovelorn ‘Hunty’, you stumble on Thompson’s letter to his mother. Strapped for cash in San Juan, Puerto ...

Not to Be Read without Shuddering

Adam Smyth: The Atheist’s Bible, 20 February 2014

The Atheist’s Bible: The Most Dangerous Book That Never Existed 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lys Ann Weiss.
Chicago, 249 pp., £21, October 2012, 978 0 226 53029 1
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... do not exist, often with bibliographical exactness: it continues in the fictions of Italo Calvino, Douglas Adams, Roberto Bolaño and Mark Z. Danielewski, among many others. The Polish science fiction writer and author of Solaris, Stanisław Lem, wrote long introductions to four imaginary books in Imaginary Magnitude (1973) and a whole volume of reviews of ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... was forced out of the ministry for trading and promptly went bankrupt. As Ruth First and Ann Scott tell us in their 1980 biography of Schreiner, this catastrophe ‘scattered the children and marked the end of the family home’. It seems, on the face of it, as noteworthy as the maternal spanking. The Companion is similarly silent about Olive’s ...

The Immortal Coil

Richard Barnett: Faraday’s Letters, 21 March 2013

The Correspondence of Michael Faraday Vol. VI, 1860-67 
by Frank James.
IET, 919 pp., £85, December 2011, 978 0 86341 957 7
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... on the fearsome Morteratsch glacier to a failed attempt at recovering the body of Lord Francis Douglas, the uncle of Oscar Wilde’s Bosie, killed during an ascent of the Matterhorn. Replying from the comfort and security of his grace-and-favour house at Hampton Court, Faraday was glad to be occupied with more quotidian matters – ‘we are progressing in ...


Iain Sinclair, 6 June 1996

... at Boulder, Colorado, or Grand Forks, North Dakota. ‘Prisoners of the Press Conference’, as Ann Charters captions them. Explainers of what is gone, apologists for what never happened. Literary stocks busking to sustain their market value, justify the next complimentary, two-seat air ticket. Corso always piled into these interviews with generous ...

Falling in love with Lucian

Colm Tóibín: Lucian Freud’s Outer Being, 10 October 2019

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, 1922-68 
by William Feaver.
Bloomsbury, 680 pp., £35, September 2019, 978 1 4088 5093 0
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... with posh people, including the Rothermeres, who owned the Daily Mail. (He painted a portrait of Ann Rothermere, who married Ian Fleming in 1952.) He got to meet Garbo and dance with Margot Fonteyn and socialise with Princess Margaret. He got to disappear into the night with Simone de Beauvoir, whom he met in a club. ‘He enjoyed the perks of being an ...

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