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‘My dear, dear friend and Führer!’

Jeremy Adler: Winifred Wagner, 6 July 2006

Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler’s Bayreuth 
by Brigitte Hamann, translated by Alan Bance.
Granta, 582 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 1 86207 851 3
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... Under family pressure to marry – his mother, Cosima, was 78; his sister, Eva, married to Houston Stewart Chamberlain, remained childless – Siegfried proposed to Winifred. She accepted: ‘I entrust myself body and soul to you, guide me through life – shape me as you would have me!’ The young bride was admitted to the composer’s dysfunctional ...

All the Necessary Attributes

Stephen Walsh: Franz Liszt, Celebrity, 22 September 2016

Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 353 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 300 18293 4
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... The account of Liszt’s death in Bayreuth in 1886 is well told and moving, but adds little to Alan Walker’s account in his great three-volume biography, which made full use of the then unpublished diary of Liszt’s pupil and unofficial carer Lina Schmalhausen. Liszt had returned to Bayreuth at Cosima’s request for that year’s festival, but arrived ...

From Soup to Fish

Andrew O’Hagan: The Spender Marriage, 17 December 2015

A House in St John’s Wood: In Search of My Parents 
by Matthew Spender.
William Collins, 448 pp., £25, August 2015, 978 0 00 813206 4
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... you don’t really want it, but Spender protested too much. In 1994 he wrote a letter to the young Alan Hollinghurst after receiving a copy of his second novel, The Folding Star. The letter shows a man in a state of confusion or unhappiness about the choices he has made. Dear Mr Hollinghurst Thank you very much for asking your publisher to send me your ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... stacks of books. This was Carolyn’s current reading matter, the titles she was happy to display. Alan Bennett’s Diaries and, of course, Peter Ackroyd’s gold-brick biography of Blake. Bennett, Ackroyd and Jonathan Miller – these were the figures who mattered most. The Christmas parcels of English literature. Enough of threadbare bohemia, paranoid ...

The Club and the Mob

James Meek: The Shock of the News, 6 December 2018

Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now 
by Alan Rusbridger.
Canongate, 464 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 1 78689 093 1
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... In Moscow, where I was living at the time (employed by the Guardian, as it happens, the paper Alan Rusbridger edited from 1995 to 2015), dawn comes early in summer and it was hot outside, though the city was asleep.* I switched on the computer I’d recently bought and connected to the internet. Once the screech of the dial-up had subsided and the browser ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... was twitching on his scalp.’ Behind Kingsley Amis and ‘ice-cream suited’ J.G. Ballard are Alan Brien, Maeve Peake, Dave Britton and legions of the erased and discontinued: Notting Hill colons, grafters, bullshitters, pharmaceutical casualties and Fleet Street drain-rats. Moorcock grants us more than any novelist is required to deliver: hence the ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts, 9 May 2019

k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... also talked about Fisher’s ideas for future projects: Red Shift, a publishing imprint, after the Alan Garner novel; an essay on John Akomfrah’s film triptych The Unfinished Conversation, featuring the memories of Stuart Hall; a book of essays about Kanye West. These interests are all evident in Fisher’s work too.The second memorial lecture was given in ...

A Car of One’s Own

Andrew O’Hagan: Chariots of Desire, 11 June 2009

... each person might be thinking their own thoughts, before one of them, Claudette Colbert or Jimmy Stewart, steps out. And if they seem wildly capable of being themselves, that capability is crowned by the ease with which they move themselves around, sovereign in their cars. This can all be observed in America’s foundations, and the writer Cotten Seiler ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... intellectuals, alien Jews and international pederasts who call themselves the Labour Party,’ Alan Bennett had Richard Hannay, Buchan’s most famous hero, muse in Forty Years On (1968). Another West End send-up of The Thirty-Nine Steps finished a nine-year run in September 2015, a century after the final instalment of Buchan’s best-known novel appeared ...

It’s already happened

James Meek: The NHS Goes Private, 22 September 2011

... competing barbarians to defend its borders. In their book The Plot against the NHS, Colin Leys and Stewart Player argue that, having failed to persuade the public and the medical establishment under Margaret Thatcher that the NHS should be turned into a European-style national insurance programme, the advocates of a competitive health market gave up trying to ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... decay. The litany of names reads like the cast-list of some bizarre Antipodean soap: Allan Stewart, wielder of the pick-axe; Michael Mates, sender of the famous watch; Norman Lamont, evictor (with some help from the tax-payer) of the tenant with too colourful a professional life; Patrick Nicholls, suspected drunk driver; Nicholas Ridley, too loquacious ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld, 22 January 2015

... those condemned to live in fallout shadows dig and scrape. A dowser and ley line tracker called Alan Hayday, formerly employed on the assembly line of the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, contacted me to pass on his research into a tunnel he claimed to have discovered running from Sutton House, a Tudor mansion on the ridge above the culverted Hackney ...

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