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Stuart Airlie, 17 November 1983

Medieval Germany and its Neighbours 900-1250 
by K.J. Leyser.
Hambledon, 302 pp., £18, February 1983, 0 907628 08 7
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The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987 
by Rosamond McKitterick.
Longman, 414 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 582 49005 7
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Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Studies presented to J.M. Wallace-Hadrill 
edited by Patrick Wormald, Donald Bullough and Roger Collins.
Blackwell, 345 pp., £27.50, September 1983, 0 631 12661 9
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... investigating the realities of bishops’ power in the Auvergne of the sixth and seventh centuries Ian Wood’s mastery of the evidence and strong sense of place permit him to follow a slow tracking-shot of the hills and cornfields around Clermont with a sudden zoom in on figures like the priest Epachius, ‘notable as a senator and as an alcoholic’. This ...

New Ground for the Book Trade

John Sutherland, 28 September 1989

... the house of Bentley in 1898; Murray absorbed Smith, Elder in 1917; between the wars, according to Ian Norrie, Hutchinson ‘absorbed so many imprints that no complete record of them exists’. The archaeology of British publishing shows an industry constantly stripping and reassembling its productive components into new formations. Coalition, then, is neither ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... other guests included Merle Haggard, Mama Cass, Odetta, Linda Ronstadt, Ray Charles, Judy Collins, Burl Ives and Kris Kristofferson. The show first aired in September 1969; in February of that year Cash was busy recording with Dylan (they duet, kind of, on ‘Girl from the North Country’, the first track on Dylan’s underrated, shambling Nashville ...


Anne Enright: Mrs Robinson Repents, 28 January 2010

... grace. Let us also hope that he does not vote for the Democratic Unionist Party. She was born Iris Collins in 1949. Her mother was called Mary and her father was called Joseph. He was a demobbed soldier who died, just before her sixth birthday, of a chronic illness contracted on active service in the Far East. Iris, who describes herself as ‘Daddy’s ...

Whitlam Fictions

Zachary Leader, 16 February 1989

Kisses of the Enemy 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 622 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 571 15091 8
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Postcards from Surfers 
by Helen Garner.
Bloomsbury, 180 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0272 2
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by Frank Moorhouse.
Faber, 175 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 571 15210 4
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... over five hundred of his poems have appeared in print, in 11 collections. He is the editor of the Collins Book of Australian Poetry (1983), and from 1967 to 1978 was poetry editor of the Australian. Recently, though, thanks in part to a series of fellowships from the Literature Board, Hall seems to have concentrated on fiction, and Kisses of the ...

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields

Michael Dobson: The Yellow Shakespeare, 10 May 2007

William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... whose shelves are already straining under the burden of the Arden (1998, revised 2001), the Collins (1994, revised 2006), the Complete Pelican (2002), the Everyman Signet (1992-96), the Norton (1997), the Oxford (1986, revised 2005), the Portable (2007, a boxed set in paperback of an edition first published in 1992 and revised in 1997) and the Riverside ...

Out of the Pound Loney

Ronan Bennett: The demonising of Gerry Adams, 5 March 1998

Man of War, Man of Peace? The Unauthorised Biography of Gerry Adams 
by David Sharrock and Mark Devenport.
Macmillan, 488 pp., £16.99, November 1997, 0 333 69883 5
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... the dominant figure within Sinn Féin – ‘the most important Irish Republican since Michael Collins’, as Sharrock and Devenport put it – his character, history and intentions are crucially important. What we need to know is what the authors ask in their title: is he a peacemaker or a warmonger? Gerry Adams was born in West Belfast in October ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... in conjunction with the club’s ‘few first editions of Conan Doyle, Poe, Le Fanu and Wilkie Collins’, is enough to invoke, by conditioned reflex, the Agatha Christie cornerstone, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Or as Derek Raymond (Robin Cook) frequently proclaimed, paraphrasing Edmund Wilson: ‘who gives a fuck who killed Roger ...

There are some limits Marlowes just won’t cross

Christopher Tayler: Banville’s Marlowe, 3 April 2014

The Black-Eyed Blonde 
by Benjamin Black.
Mantle, 320 pp., £16.99, February 2014, 978 1 4472 3668 9
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... of one of Chandler’s plots make the twist ending foreseeable, it’s preceded by an unexpected, Ian Fleming-like sequence with a turn from a violent butler. Banville has some fun giving Clare an Irish background. ‘Look at that, now,’ her mother, a perfume magnate whose Protestant husband died nastily for Michael ...

His Friends Were Appalled

Deborah Friedell: Dickens, 5 January 2012

The Life of Charles Dickens 
by John Forster.
Cambridge, 1480 pp., £70, December 2011, 978 1 108 03934 5
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Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist 
by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.
Harvard, 389 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 674 05003 7
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Charles Dickens: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 527 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 670 91767 9
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... an appendix. Where Forster praises Dickens’s ‘unbroken continuity of kindly impulse’, Wilkie Collins wrote in the margins of his copy: ‘Wretched English claptrap.’ Forster’s discretion ensured that he wouldn’t be the definitive biographer, even if no writer would ever know as much about Dickens as he did. Long out of print, his life is now ...

A Little Holiday

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Ben Hecht’s Cause, 23 September 2021

A Child of the Century 
by Ben Hecht.
Yale, 654 pp., £16, April 2020, 978 0 300 25179 1
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Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures 
by Adina Hoffman.
Yale, 245 pp., £10.99, April 2020, 978 0 300 25181 4
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... support for Palestinians in the London press came from the romantic Tory Spectator, then edited by Ian Gilmour.Hecht was born in 1894 on the Lower East Side to immigrant parents from the Pale of Settlement (in what is today Belarus). When he was ten, the family moved to Racine in Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Michigan. They weren’t very devout and he had ...


Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... of a team which includes Derek Brewer, Derek Traversi, D.W. Harding, L.G. Salingar, Peter Ure, Ian Watt, J.C. Maxwell, L.C. Knights, D.J. Enright, Roy Strong, John Broadbent, Arthur Humphreys, Philip Collins, Pat Rogers, D.W. Jefferson and John Preston. What is disturbing is that everyone made his reputation ...

Keith Middlemas on the history of Ireland

Keith Middlemas, 22 January 1981

Ireland: Land of Troubles 
by Paul Johnson.
Eyre Methuen, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 413 47650 2
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Acts of Union 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 221 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 571 11648 5
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by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Faber, 96 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 571 11645 0
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Ireland: A History 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £9.95, December 1980, 0 297 77855 2
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... power. There are comparisons to be made here with the Boers in the 1890s and the public posture of Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front. No wonder Carson and Sir James Craig come out of this account badly: even Lloyd George found their attitudes repellent, and denounced ‘the cloven hoof of Ulster’s sordidness’ because the new Northern Ireland government wanted ...

‘No, no,’ replied the fat man

Michael Davie, 3 December 1992

The Power of News: The History of Reuters 
by Donald Read.
Oxford, 330 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 19 821776 5
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... to take his copy to the post office. The man is identified as the Reuters correspondent, J.W. Collins. The text tells us, though, that the Reuters correspondent in Abyssinia in 1935 was Major Jim Barnes, whose book The Universal Aspects of Fascism had contained a foreword by Mussolini, and who was regarded even by Sir Samuel Hoare, the Foreign Secretary ...


Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments, 8 August 2002

Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... cycles, and having passed from tragedy to romantic comedy they whirled on into farce. A fling with Ian Fleming ended badly when he accidentally double-booked her in his house in Jamaica with his wife, Ann. ‘She was unbelievably rude to me,’ Lehmann noted, hurt. Fleming’s attempt to amuse her by throwing a live squid into the bedroom misfired badly and in ...

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