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Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... rebel against American Puritanism, accused of believing in free love), Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson and the suffragette leader, Carrie Chapman Catt. Feminist supporter of minority rights, Eleanor Roosevelt is our contemporary. That is what worries Alan Brinkley. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Eleanor Roosevelt is the representative of social movements ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars, 14 December 2000

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... United States in the year following its publication – even such serious-minded critics as Edmund Wilson and the young Lionel Trilling regularly disparaged her as spinsterish, middlebrow and reactionary: a kind of tiresome maiden aunt in the back parlour of American letters. True, Cather had her defenders – but as Acocella grimly notes, they were prone to ...

Living Doll and Lilac Fairy

Penelope Fitzgerald, 31 August 1989

Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... more than her mother. She studied at the Slade under the all-powerful trinity of Frederick Brown, Wilson Steer and Tonks. It was 1910, and the students were advised not to attend Roger Fry’s Post-Expressionist exhibition. By 1914 Carrington, a mild bohemian, had cut her hair short, Mark Gertler and C.W. Nevinson were in love with her, and the world outside ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... mixture of the homely and exotic. She has acquired the honorary but eccentric status of an Emily Dickinson, telling it slant. This oblique trance is my natural Way of speaking, she claims, and this is indeed how her poetic personality comes across: dreamy, meditative, in the world but not quite of it. Selima Hill has some of the same ambivalence ...
Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years 
by Brian Boyd.
Chatto, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7011 3701 0
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... hotel – ‘distraught’ and ‘in wet clothes’. My italics. The prodigality reminds me of Emily Dickinson: As if I asked a common Alms, And in my wondering hand A Stranger pressed a Kingdom, And I, bewildered, stand – Then there is the little, optionally extra dog taking ‘rapid chords with his front paws on the resilient turf’, or Laughter in ...

Making history

Malise Ruthven, 19 June 1986

Gertrude Bell 
by Susan Goodman.
Berg, 122 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 907582 86 9
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Freya Stark 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Viking, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1985, 0 670 80675 7
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... of the Sherif of Mecca. Backed to the hilt by Cox, she won her battles with the formidable A.T. Wilson, who wanted tighter British control. She was thus instrumental not only in establishing King Feisal’s Iraq, but indirectly Saddam Hussein’s, a state with a predominantly secular outlook ruled by the Sunni Arab minority, now fighting for its life ...

The Road to Reading Gaol

Colm Tóibín, 30 November 2017

... unlike William Wilde, who by the time of his marriage had had two further illegitimate children, Emily and Mary, born in 1847 and 1849, who were taken care of as wards by William’s eldest brother, Ralph. (John Butler Yeats believed that the mother of these two girls kept a ‘black oak shop’ in Dublin.) William fully acknowledged his illegitimate ...

Tennyson’s Nerves

Frank Kermode, 6 November 1980

Tennyson: The Unqulet Heart 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Oxford/Faber, 656 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 19 812072 9
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Thro’ the Vision of the Night: A Study of Source, Evolution and Structure in Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’ 
by J.M. Gray.
Edinburgh, 179 pp., £10, August 1980, 0 85224 382 0
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... Matilda was never quite right after a fall into a coal-scuttle as a child, and would embarrass Emily (who had been engaged to Arthur Hallam) by raising her umbrella in church to keep off the draught. Since the crowded rectory had plenty of books as well as many peculiar persons, it provided an atmosphere conducive to poetry. But no less helpful were the ...

Poetry and Christianity

Barbara Everett, 4 February 1982

Three for Water-Music 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 69 pp., £2.95, July 1981, 0 85635 363 9
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The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse 
edited by Donald Davie.
Oxford, 319 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 19 213426 4
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... twenty pages the presiding genius is in any case not strictly speaking Victorian at all, being Emily Dickinson: who for Davie represents those qualities which in the earlier part of the anthology shine in Herbert and Vaughan, Watts and Wesley, Smart and Cowper. That none of these writers has the obvious ‘scale’ or bulk of a Browning is perhaps to ...

Regular Terrors

Alison Light: Window-Smashing Suffragettes, 25 January 2007

Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote 
by Jill Liddington.
Virago, 402 pp., £14.99, May 2006, 1 84408 168 0
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... of the proceedings or the jurisdiction of the judges. Prison radicalised many still further. Laura Wilson, a worsted-coating weaver from Halifax told a reporter: ‘I went to jail a rebel, but I have come out a regular terror.’ Despite the ground it shared with other suffrage organisations, and despite its male supporters, the WSPU was unique as a separatist ...

Hyacinth Boy

Mark Ford: T.S. Eliot, 21 September 2006

T.S. Eliot: The Making of an American Poet 
by James E. Miller.
Pennsylvania State, 468 pp., £29.95, August 2005, 0 271 02681 2
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The Annotated ‘Waste Land’ with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose 
by T.S. Eliot, edited by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 270 pp., $35, April 2005, 0 300 09743 3
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Revisiting ‘The Waste Land’ 
by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 203 pp., £22.50, May 2005, 0 300 10707 2
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... I remember The hyacinth garden. Those are pearls that were his eyes, yes! In other words, as G. Wilson Knight first pointed out in 1972, the ‘hyacinth girl’ was initially conceived as male and, like Phlebas, appears to have drowned, or so the section’s concluding quotation from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde suggests: ‘Öd’ und leer das ...

The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman, 14 December 2017

A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... Castle had had a similar problem in the late 1940s when she went to Canada with her boss, Harold Wilson, when he was president of the Board of Trade. ‘Wives are never invited’ to official dinners, she was told. ‘“I am not Harold’s wife,” I retorted hotly. “I am not even his mistress. I am his PPS.”’ It’s interesting to see just how much ...

North and South

Raphael Samuel, 22 June 1995

Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village 
by Mark Hudson.
Cape, 320 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 04170 3
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... and which has promoted the Cotswolds as England’s imaginary heart, has perhaps less taste than Emily Brontë for the wild solitudes of the moors; indeed Charles Jennings in Up North, his ‘travels beyond the Watford Gap’, an only half-humorous exploration of regional difference, complains that the North is deficient in open space. In the current ...

Last Exit

Murray Sayle, 27 November 1997

The Last Governor: Chris Patten and the Handover of Hong Kong 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £22.50, July 1997, 0 316 64018 2
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In Pursuit of British Interests: Reflections on Foreign Policy under Margaret Thatcher and John Major 
by Percy Cradock.
Murray, 228 pp., £18.99, September 1997, 0 7195 5464 0
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Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule: The Economic and Political Implications of Reversion 
edited by Warren Cohen and Li Zhao.
Cambridge, 255 pp., £45, August 1997, 0 521 62158 5
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The Hong Kong Advantage 
by Michael Enright, Edith Scott and David Dodwell.
Oxford, 369 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 19 590322 6
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... Dimbleby adds, by way of rumour, that Major and Hurd regarded the outgoing governor, Sir David Wilson (who was sacked to make way for Patten), ‘as one of the principal advocates of the “appeasement” of China, an approach which they believed could no longer be sustained after the atrocity of Tiananmen Square in June 1989’. But, while he avoids ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... recognised by contemporaries: ‘one of the great minds and imaginations of our day’, Edmund Wilson wrote in the 1920s, ‘absolutely comparable’ to ‘the Nietzsches, the Tolstoys, the Wagners and the Ibsens of a previous generation’. All literary magnitudes are finite. In the case of great writers, it is understandable that their vices should ...

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