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His Own Sort of Outsider

Philip Clark: Tippett’s Knack, 16 July 2020

Michael Tippett: The Biography 
by Oliver Soden.
Weidenfeld, 750 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4746 0602 8
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... Tippett is refreshingly free of old prejudices and stale arguments. (The previous standard text, Ian Kemp’s Tippett: The Composer and His Music, was sketchy on biographical detail and appeared in 1984, when there were still ten years of Tippett’s creative life to come.) Soden admires the early music, but argues consistently that Tippett’s essence is ...

A Long Silence

David A. Bell: ‘Englishness’, 14 December 2000

Englishness Identified: Manners and Character, 1650-1850 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 389 pp., £25, April 2000, 9780198206811
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... politicised justification for the break-up of Britain. Citing a recent article by J.C.D. Clark, the Times claimed that Britain and Britishness, far from being ‘forged’ largely in the 18th century as Colley claims, have deeper historical roots. Devolution, and the concurrent resurgence of ‘English’ nationalism are not therefore inevitable ...

Getting on

Humphrey Carpenter, 18 July 1985

In the Dark 
by R.M. Lamming.
Cape, 230 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 9780224022927
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A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory 
by Isabel Colegate.
Hamish Hamilton, 153 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 241 11532 9
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Midnight Mass 
by Peter Bowles.
Peter Owen, 190 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 7206 0647 0
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The Silver Age 
by James Lasdun.
Cape, 186 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 0 224 02316 0
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The House of Kanze 
by Nobuko Albery.
Century, 307 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7126 0850 8
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... hoarding books rather than cash, and the novel’s excellent jacket-picture by Emma Chichester Clark has a promising glimpse of him peering at a tome, surrounded by towers of unsorted volumes which wait their places on the empty shelves in the gloom beyond. Unfortunately Lamming’s prose never quite measures up to that picture: the book-hoarding ought to ...

Credibility Brown

Christopher Hitchens, 17 August 1989

Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future 
by Gordon Brown.
Mainstream, 182 pp., £4.95, May 1989, 1 85158 233 9
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CounterBlasts No 3: A Rational Advance for the Labour Party 
by John Lloyd.
Chatto, 57 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3519 0
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... so. (Still, at the 1945 Labour Party Conference, Ernest Bevin came raging up to those, including Ian Mikardo and oddly enough James Callaghan, who had called for public ownership to be in the Manifesto and yelled: ‘Congratulations! You have just lost us the election.’) Harold Wilson actually beat the Tories four times at the polls, which on the consensus ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... Berlin, then attached to the British embassy in Washington, recommended another recruit, William Clark, who despite only a small experience of journalism turned out to be a brilliant acquisition as a writer on economics and world affairs, and as an editor too, persuading Astor, for example, to follow the New Yorker’s lead and devote most of a single issue ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... Nicholas Scott has consoled himself since his departure from office with a consultancy with Clark and Smith Industries, whose products include many aimed at the disabled, for whom Scott was the responsible minister when in office. John McGregor (afterwards Lord McGregor) has rejoined merchant bankers Hill Samuel since his departure from the Transport ...

Constable’s Weather

David Sylvester, 29 August 1991

... described by the selector-cataloguers of his panoramic exhibition at the Tate, Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams, as ‘for later generations the very epitome of Romantic landscape painting’. It was the most derelict, most desolate scene Constable ever pictured, with its ruined pair of towers set beside an endless flat expanse of land and sea and ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven, 18 February 1988

The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... which I happen to co-edit), has an interest in the writers he mentions, if only because Ian Hamilton said so in the pages of the London Review. He forgets (he is not very careful about these matters) that it was in the letters pages of this journal that The Night-markets was described as having nothing ‘remotely Poundian or Objectivist’ about ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis, 1 July 1999

The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... useful if not always inspired choices – for example, John McPhee writing about the Arthur Ashe-Clark Graebner 1969 Forest Hills match as a microcosm of American social differences) or any resourceful organising principle. Certainly some note should have been taken of Jack Kramer’s invention of the Big Game and indeed of the pro tour itself. As ...

Wobble in My Mind

Colm Tóibín: Lizzie, Cal and Caroline, 7 May 2020

The Dolphin Letters, 1970-79: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell and Their Circle 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 560 pp., £35, January, 978 0 571 35741 3
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The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972-73 
by Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., £11.99, December 2019, 978 0 374 53827 9
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... Blackwood, 38 at the time and the mother of three daughters. Blackwood told Lowell’s biographer, Ian Hamilton, that after the party Lowell moved into her London house – ‘I mean instantly, that night.’On 27 April, three days before the party, Lowell had written to Hardwick: ‘I miss you both every minute. I may telephone for you to come and get ...

Histories of Australia

Stuart Macintyre, 28 September 1989

The Oxford History of Autralia. Vol III: 1860-1900 
by Beverley Kingston.
Oxford, 368 pp., £22.50, July 1989, 0 19 554611 3
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The Road from Coorain: An Australian Memoir 
by Jill Ker Conway.
Heinemann, 238 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 434 14244 1
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A Secret Country 
by John Pilger.
Cape, 286 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 224 02600 3
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Convict Workers: Reinterpreting Australia’s Past 
edited by Stephen Nicholas.
Cambridge, 246 pp., $45, June 1989, 0 521 36126 5
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... Fascism sharpened their national consciousness into radical activism. They included Russel Ward, Ian Turner and Bob Gollan, who were all Communists when they embarked on their careers. Their influence on Australian history was perhaps even greater than that of their British equivalents, Hill, Thompson, Hobsbawm and Rudé, since they were there at the ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... counter-claims. They are not the first to be one-sided. It is astonishing, looking back at Ian Watt’s book, for instance, to find that no woman novelist figures in his account. In Michael McKeon’s voluminous The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 Eliza Haywood, Delarivier Manley and Mary Davys are disposed of in a couple of pages at the end of ...

Fear in Those Blue Eyes

David Runciman: Thatcher in Her Bubble, 3 December 2015

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. II: Everything She Wants 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 821 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 7139 9288 5
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... about the battle-readiness of the National Coal Board and the flakiness of its imported chief, Ian MacGregor, she resisted the impulse to take charge. She allowed herself to be persuaded by her cabinet secretary, Robin Butler, that it was too dangerous for the prime minister’s office to appear to be setting the terms of the dispute. She remained reliant ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... might have taken the heat out of the situation. Shortly after leaving Number Ten, Churchill told Ian Gilmour that immigration from the West Indies was ‘the most important subject facing this country but I cannot get any of my ministers to take any notice’ – although quite a few were no keener on Britain becoming ‘a magpie nation’ than Churchill ...

Heroes of Our Time

Karl Miller, 19 May 1988

The Monument 
by T. Behrens.
Cape, 258 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 224 02510 4
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The Passion of John Aspinall 
by Brian Masters.
Cape, 360 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 224 02353 5
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... Mr Anthony Blond, Mr Robert Boutwood, Mr Claus von Bülow, Mr Timothy Cassel, The Hon. Mr Alan Clark, Sir David Crouch MP, Mr Nigel Dempster, The Earl of Derby, The Duke of Devonshire ...’ And so on through the alphabet. ‘If I have inadvertently omitted anyone, I ask forgiveness. Some have asked that their help remain unacknowledged.’ Those whose ...

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