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A Great Big Silly Goose

Seamus Perry: Characteristically Spenderish, 21 May 2020

Poems Written Abroad: The Lilly Library Manuscript 
by Stephen Spender.
Indiana, 112 pp., £27.99, July 2019, 978 0 253 04167 8
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... to several other guests before lunch was over. He strikes a similar note when telling a story of Geoffrey Grigson, who held forth with characteristic trenchancy on the shortcomings of Horizon as the name for a magazine: who could ever have come up with that? ‘“Well,” I said, “as a matter of fact, I thought of Horizon.” This mollified him ...

A Terrible Thing, Thank God

Adam Phillips: Dylan Thomas, 4 March 2004

Dylan Thomas: A New Life 
by Andrew Lycett.
Weidenfeld, 434 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 297 60793 6
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... poetry – the ‘innumerable exercise books of poems’ that Thomas referred to in a letter to Geoffrey Grigson in 1933 – came from is no clearer. He began writing seriously around the age of 16, and there were, it seems, ten books of which four survived. The biography tells us nothing substantive about what made for the poems, or what we might make ...


Samuel Hynes, 22 May 1980

C. Day-Lewis: An English Literary Life 
by Sean Day-Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 333 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 297 77745 9
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... retarded the separation of English poetry from its general English audience. To a sharp eye – to Geoffrey Grigson’s, for instance – the burial of the private Day-Lewis was already in progress in the Thirties, when the avant-garde poet became also Nicholas Blake the detective novelist, and Day-Lewis the Communist joined the selection committee of the ...

That’s what Wystan says

Seamus Perry, 10 May 2018

Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography 
by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 912 pp., £27.95, May 2017, 978 0 691 17249 1
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... Audenaire’: he was a name such that a pun might be made of it. The contribution of Geoffrey Grigson, New Verse’s editor, was promisingly entitled ‘Auden as a Monster’: his prodigiousness does seem to have had something about it that could be rather shattering. The year after the New Verse special a thinly disguised Auden was the star ...

Who they think they are

Julian Symons, 8 November 1990

You’ve had your time 
by Anthony Burgess.
Heinemann, 391 pp., £17.50, October 1990, 0 434 09821 3
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An Immaculate Mistake: Scenes from Childhood and Beyond 
by Paul Bailey.
Bloomsbury, 167 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0630 2
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... about a Burgess fiction brings the comment: ‘This is what British criticism has descended to.’ Geoffrey Grigson’s dislike of his ‘coarse and unattractive personality’ is mentioned, repeated, finally repaid by a feeble satirical sonnet. A look at Grigson on Alvarez would have shown him how it should be ...

The Shoreham Gang

Seamus Perry: Samuel Palmer, 5 April 2012

Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer 
by Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Bloomsbury, 382 pp., £25, June 2011, 978 0 7475 9587 8
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... Palmer has generally been well served by his modern biographers. The landmark in the field is Geoffrey Grigson’s Samuel Palmer: The Visionary Years (1947), still highly readable because animated by all of Grigson’s brilliant erudition and spirit of advocacy. Lord David Cecil’s long chapter in his 1969 book ...

Firm Lines

Hermione Lee, 17 November 1983

Bartleby in Manhattan, and Other Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick.
Weidenfeld, 292 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 297 78357 2
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... to what is certainly a chilling and gossipy account of Auden’s personal habits, she quotes Geoffrey Grigson’s ‘beautiful tribute’ to Auden’s ‘great poetry’ in which we find ‘explicit recipes for being human’. Grigson might seem an odd model for benevolence, but it is appropriate that Hardwick’s ...

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