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‘Monocled Baron Charged’

David Coward: Vichy’s commissioner for Jewish affairs, 8 June 2006

Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland 
by Carmen Callil.
Cape, 614 pp., £20, April 2006, 0 224 07810 0
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... familiar. Between 1963 and 1970, she had been treated three times a week by a psychoanalyst named Anne Darquier, to whom she had become very close, and who had probably committed suicide. Were they related? They were, and for more than three decades Callil, conscious of a need to discharge a debt as both a patient and a friend, pursued Darquier, Vichy’s ...

Harley Street

Ruth Padel, 3 December 1992

... She was born round the corner in an attic. Balancing chemistry textbooks on her feet, her father pushed the ivory five-foot pram down the middle. ‘He thought you were immortal’ says her mother. Later she daggered sticks along immaculate black railings. Today it is a psalm with each brass doorbell, every blue-rinsed concierge, daily bland against the rush of last hopes ...

Where a man can be a man

Margaret Anne Doody, 16 December 1993

All the Pretty Horses 
by Cormac McCarthy.
Picador, 302 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 330 33169 8
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... of Mark Twain:   My daddy run off from home when he was 15. Otherwise I’d of been born in Alabama.   You wouldnt of been born at all ...   I dont see why you say that. I’d of been born somewheres.   How?   Well why not?   If your mama had a baby with ...

Frocks and Shocks

Hilary Mantel: Jane Boleyn, 24 April 2008

Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford 
by Julia Fox.
Phoenix, 398 pp., £9.99, March 2008, 978 0 7538 2386 6
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... opera, Jane Boleyn is more often known as Jane Rochford, wife of George Boleyn, sister-in-law to Anne the queen. There are some lives we read backwards, from bloody exit to obscure entrance, and Jane’s is one of them. She was beheaded in 1542, with Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard. She was one of Catherine’s ladies, and for reasons which ...

Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Life goes on 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 517 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12709 0
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Men and Angels 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 239 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 224 02998 3
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Heavenly Deception 
by Maggie Brooks.
Chatto, 299 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 9780701128647
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Love Always 
by Ann Beattie.
Joseph, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 7181 2609 2
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... sense than Sillitoe of the wool-gathering, homespun poetry of the masculine adventurer, the free-born Englishman for whom (in one of Cullen’s striking anachronisms) this is still a ‘cosy and exciting country to live in’. Sillitoe has a nice ear for English place-names: there are high jinks at Doggerel Bank, Back Enderby, Peppercorn Cottage and Upper ...


Barbara Taylor: My Mennonite Conversion, 2 June 2005

A Complicated Kindness 
by Miriam Toews.
Faber, 246 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 571 22400 8
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... religiosity as the serpent. In East Village the miseries of adolescence are apocalyptic. Like all born-again Christians, Mennonites see sin everywhere, even in newborns, who, if they die in infancy, are spared damnation only because, unaware of their fallen condition, they cannot repent it. With puberty, when free will kicks in, this probationary state of ...

Quod erat Hepburn

John Bayley, 3 April 1986

Katharine Hepburn: A Biography 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 395 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 340 33719 2
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... Hepburn, making this biography of her as a film star more than readable. She was, as it were, born with a very definite and accepted self, the inherited and environmentally-conditioned personality of a ‘great lady’ on the eastern seaboard of America, destined to follow her mother in being a gracious hostess, golfer, lady bountiful, social ...


Dinah Birch: Anne Lister, 21 January 1999

Female Fortune: Land, Gender and Authority. The Anne Lister Diaries and Other Writings 1833-36 
edited by Jill Liddington.
Rivers Oram, 298 pp., £30, September 1998, 1 85489 088 3
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... Anne Lister was undoubtedly one of the most unorthodox women of the early 19th century. She was an active and entirely unashamed lesbian, a scholar, a dauntless traveller and a resourceful businesswoman. As an example of what female tenacity could achieve in the pre-Victorian period, she might be seen as a fortifying ideal ...

Educating Georgie

E.S. Turner, 6 December 1984

Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 462 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 340 24465 8
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... at the heart’ of this biography of Queen Mary. What steaming titbit can her fellow American, Anne Edwards, biographer of film stars, have turned up at this late hour? Can it really be that rather overworked rumour that identifies Prince Eddy, the Queen’s first fiancé, as Jack the Ripper? Indeed it can. James Pope-Hennessy did not find room to discuss ...

At the Whitechapel

Anne Wagner: Hannah Höch, 20 February 2014

... to wonder about their maker. Does it help to know that she was the eldest of five children born to bourgeois parents in Gotha, Thuringia, or to learn that she left school at 15 because her insurance agent father and amateur painter mother decided she was needed at home? Perhaps not, until one discovers that it was only in 1912, at the age of 21, that ...

At Tate Modern

Anne Wagner: Mira Schendel , 24 October 2013

... Tate Modern’s retrospective of the Brazilian artist Mira Schendel – born Myrrha Dagmar Dub in 1919 in Zurich, brought up in Italy, uprooted by war to Yugoslavia, and from there to Brazil in 1949 – is moving, difficult, full of strange writing and immediate visual pleasure.* Schendel was an intellectual, feeding on Wittgenstein and Cardinal Newman (her two incompatible heroes), as well as a constant innovator in formal terms ...

At the British Museum

Anne Wagner: Käthe Kollwitz, 2 January 2020

... work concerns death and poverty, oppression and rebellion. Are those subjects taboo?Kollwitz was born Käthe Schmidt in Königsberg in 1867. As a young woman she studied art, in part because her father thought her too homely to attract a husband. In 1886 she lived for a while in Berlin, where she married Karl Kollwitz, a doctor for the Tailors’ Union and a ...

Sleep through it

Anne Diebel: Ottessa Moshfegh, 13 September 2018

My Year of Rest and Relaxation 
by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, July 2018, 978 1 78733 041 2
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Homesick for Another World 
by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Cape, 277 pp., £9.99, January 2018, 978 1 78470 150 5
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... She studied art history at Columbia (and is therefore ‘cultured’, according to Reva). She was born into privilege and now lives on an inheritance from her parents. She used to work at a Chelsea gallery, where she would take naps in a storage cupboard during her lunch hour, until she was fired and started sleeping full-time. But beauty and money won’t ...

Royal Bodies

Hilary Mantel, 21 February 2013

... at all, that we are naked in the street. But as the dress resolved about her, the princess was born and the world breathed out.Diana was more royal than the family she joined. That had nothing to do with family trees. Something in her personality, her receptivity, her passivity, fitted her to be the carrier of myth. She came near to claiming that she had a ...

At the Foundling Museum

Joanne O’Leary: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’, 2 April 2020

... Henrietta Maria in Yellow (1636), for which she posed while six months pregnant with Princess Anne, he gives the queen a languorous aspect by painting her from below, exaggerating her height: compare this to Daniël Mytens’s portraits, in which her weak chin, large nose and limp curls are undisguised. No wonder Charles I gave Mytens the boot when Van ...

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