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Inexhaustible Engines

Michael Holroyd, 1 March 1984

Bernard Shaw: A Bibliography, Vols I and II 
by Dan Laurence.
Oxford, 1058 pp., £80, December 1983, 0 19 818179 5
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Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: 1856-1907 
by Margery Morgan.
Profile, 45 pp., £1.50, July 1982, 0 85383 518 7
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The Art and Mind of Shaw: Essays in Criticism 
by A.M. Gibbs.
Macmillan, 224 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 28679 0
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... and suggestions here. Included among ‘Works edited by Shaw’ are the biographies of him by Frank Harris and Hesketh Pearson in which GBS was a major collaborator. Mr Laurence endorses Shaw’s statement that he destroyed the evidence of his collaboration in Harris’s book (and wished to do so with ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot, 3 February 2011

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... Moderns, her provocative critical survey of English cultural life between 1930 and 1945, Alexandra Harris points to Eliot’s lines in ‘East Coker’ about ‘Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth/Mirth of those long since under earth/Nourishing the corn.’ Harris argues that the poet was thinking about the dead ...


Frank Kermode: The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 by Martin Amis., 10 May 2001

The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 506 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 224 05059 1
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... and Aristophanes can procure a pardon for that sort of thing. Other reviewers may commend Thomas Harris for committing ‘not a single ugly or dead sentence’ but Amis finds enough of them to label Harris ‘a serial murderer of English sentences’ and Hannibal ‘a necropolis of prose’. He finds the opposite response ...

Love in a Dark Time

Colm Tóibín: Oscar Wilde, 19 April 2001

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde 
edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis.
Fourth Estate, 1270 pp., £35, November 2000, 1 85702 781 7
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... Carlo and when it was clear that Queensberry was in possession of compromising letters, Wilde met Frank Harris and George Bernard Shaw at the Café Royal. When Harris vehemently sought to persuade him to drop the case and leave the country and Shaw agreed, Wilde seemed to be coming around to their view. (‘You are ...

Lethal Pastoral

Paul Keegan: Housman’s Lethal Pastoral, 17 November 2016

Housman Country: Into the Heart of England 
by Peter Parker.
Little, Brown, 446 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 4087 0613 8
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... how to read the poems. One anecdote that Parker does not pass on to us concerns a meeting with Frank Harris, in which Housman took offence at Harris’s suggestion that the final stanza of ‘1887’, the introductory poem of A Shropshire Lad, was darkly intended. The poem remembers the Silver Jubilee ...

Marvellous Boys

Mark Ford, 9 September 1993

The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... to the only avant-garde journal of the time, Angry Penguins. Angry Penguins was edited by Max Harris, a student at Adelaide University, and John Reed, who was 10 years Harris’s senior and lived just outside Melbourne. Independently wealthy, Reed was committed to sponsoring any form of artistic originality that caught ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... meditation and even been given a mantra is understandable because it was done to please Frank Grimes, whom he loved, but that he not only experimented with but appears to have relied on the I Ching seems unlike the man I knew. Lambert reveals that at Oxford he himself had a fling with Peter Brook whom I had thought a model of heterosexuality but who ...


John Bayley, 2 June 1988

A.E. Housman: Collected Poems and Selected Prose 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £18.95, April 1988, 0 7139 9009 0
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... would have understood and approved the Roman indignation with which Housman spurned an admiring Frank Harris, writing how much he appreciated the ‘sarcasm’ of ‘1887’. ‘I can only reject and resent your truculent praise,’ replied Housman. Yet Horace, or the Greek poets, would no more have recognised their poetry in Housman’s versions of it ...

Long Runs

Adam Phillips: A.E. Housman, 18 June 1998

The Poems of A.E. Housman 
edited by Archie Burnett.
Oxford, 580 pp., £80, December 1997, 0 19 812322 1
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The Invention of Love 
by Tom Stoppard.
Faber, 106 pp., £6.99, October 1997, 0 571 19271 8
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... in ‘went about my ways’. This is what one does despite the endless wondering. So when Frank Harris says, in one of the many brilliant interludes in The Invention of Love, ‘I think he stayed with the wrong people in Shropshire. I never read such a book for telling you you’re better off dead,’ he is right, but he’s missing, as Stoppard ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... Peterley Harvest has been overlooked by Mr Graves (who uses the evidence of commentators such as Frank Harris): but who can doubt that the non-existent Peterley was among the audience at the Senate House that May afternoon in 1933, and that we are reading an exact, first-hand account from this invisible man? Housman rose, placed a brown-covered small ...

The Family Biden

Christian Lorentzen, 6 January 2022

... for a second term in 2024, at the age of 81, or be replaced by a pundit’s dream ticket of Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg. The spectre of Trump remains, at least in the obsessive minds of those who believe the vandalism done to the Capitol on 6 January was a catastrophe on a par with 9/11. Asked about reports that Trump knowingly exposed him to Covid-19 ...


R.W. Johnson, 2 December 1993

The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... been no difficulty in showing that, in these memoirs as in her career, Thatcher has been neither frank nor humble. Mrs Thatcher appears to suffer from a quite advanced form of egomania, or megalomania, or both; and it is genuinely difficult for her not to see everyone else as either her opponent or an instrument of her will. The former are immediately ...


Frank Kermode: B. S. Johnson, 5 August 2004

Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson 
by Jonathan Coe.
Picador, 486 pp., £20, June 2004, 9780330350488
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‘Trawl’, ‘Albert Angelo’ and ‘House Mother Normal’ 
by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 472 pp., £14.99, June 2004, 0 330 35332 2
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... be entirely about himself, as he sat there in his familiar room writing them. He greatly admired Frank Harris’s My Life and Loves, until he heard that Harris told lies. He might have admired Rousseau and eventually been disillusioned again. Not that he read Rousseau; his reading was scattered and he didn’t seem to ...

Her Haunted Heart

John Lahr: Billie Holiday, 20 December 2018

Lady Sings the Blues 
by Billie Holiday.
Penguin, 179 pp., £9.99, November 2018, 978 0 241 35129 1
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... not the sometime guitarist Clarence Holiday, whose surname she later bore, but a waiter called Frank DeViese. Born Elinore Harris, Holiday was unmoored from the very beginning. As a child, she was more or less abandoned by Clarence, who was on the road with various bands, and by her beloved mother, Sadie, who went north ...


Hilary Gaskin: From Nuremberg to the Gulf, 25 April 1991

... or beyond. Their names were Walter Brudno, Smith Brookhart, Nick Doman, Benjamin Ferencz, Whitney Harris, Charles Horsky, Henry King, Daniel Margolies and Walter Rockler, and they had all been prosecuting lawyers at the Nuremberg Trial and Subsequent Proceedings in 1945-9. Their audience was just as extraordinary: over a hundred men and women who had been ...

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