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How does he come to be mine?

Tim Parks: Dickens’s Children, 8 August 2013

Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 239 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 0 374 29880 7
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... Dickens’s suffering as he later and very emotionally recalled it for his friend and biographer, John Forster. He was not beaten, starved or ill-treated in any way. The factory was run by an acquired cousin, the son of a widower who had married Dickens’s aunt. He worked there for a year or less before returning to school and normal middle-class ...

Where am I?

Greg Dening, 31 October 1996

Far-Fetched Facts: The Literature of Travel and the Idea of the South Seas 
by Neil Rennie.
Oxford, 330 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 19 811975 5
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... was packed with the finest instruments of the day, made by Jesse Ramsden, Thomas Earnshaw, John Bird, John Dollund and John Shelton. Cook would have shared the satisfaction of these artisans that their hands could make instruments calibrated to one four-thousandth of an inch. Cook ...

Sneezing, Yawning, Falling

Charles Nicholl: The Da Vinci Codices, 16 December 2004

... reckon them, as some of the smaller notebooks have been bound into composite volumes: the three Forster codices in the V&A (formerly owned by Dickens’s friend and biographer John Forster), for instance, actually contain five notebooks. The largest concentration of notebooks is in the Institut de France in ...

Unhappy Childhoods

John Sutherland, 2 February 1989

Trollope and Character 
by Stephen Wall.
Faber, 397 pp., £17.50, September 1988, 0 571 14595 7
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The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Michigan, 528 pp., $35, December 1988, 0 472 10102 1
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Dickens: A Biography 
by Fred Kaplan.
Hodder, 607 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 340 48558 2
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Charlotte Brontë 
by Rebecca Fraser.
Methuen, 543 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 9780413570109
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... Three modern biographers have set out to fill the gap. R.H. Super has delivered his book first; N. John Hall’s and Victoria Glendinning’s Trollopes are still to come. Sportingly, Super subtitles his biography ‘A Life’, leaving open the possibility that this may not turn out to be the life. But at least he has the consolation of being first past the ...

Kiss and tell

John Ryle, 28 June 1990

Which of Us Two? The Story of a Love Affair 
by Colin Spencer.
Viking, 258 pp., £15.99, May 1990, 0 670 83076 3
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... the lover (who has, significantly, no credit on the title page). Spencer’s letters to and from John Tasker, an Australian with whom he was involved between 1957 and 1959, when they were both in their mid-twenties, are not, as love letters go, especially interesting. There are routine endearments, doubts, quarrels, expressions of physical desire and gossip ...
From Author to Reader: A Social Study of Books 
by Peter Mann.
Routledge, 189 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 7100 9089 7
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David Copperfield 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Nina Burgis.
Oxford, 781 pp., £40, March 1981, 0 19 812492 9
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Martin Chuzzlewit 
by Charles Dickens, edited by Margaret Cardwell.
Oxford, 923 pp., £45, December 1982, 0 19 812488 0
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Books and their Readers in 18th-Century England 
edited by Isabel Rivers.
Leicester University Press, 267 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 7185 1189 1
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Mumby’s Publishing and Bookselling in the 20th Century 
by Ian Norrie.
Bell and Hyman, 253 pp., £12.95, October 1982, 0 7135 1341 1
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Reading Relations 
by Bernard Sharratt.
Harvester, 350 pp., £18.95, February 1982, 0 7108 0059 2
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... to the German Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens. Nor does Britain have an equivalent to John Tebbel’s multivolume history of American publishing. The student of the subject in this country (particularly if he is interested in contemporary matters) will find himself dredging through the pages of more or less hagiographic ‘house histories’ and ...

Bringing it home to Uncle Willie

Frank Kermode, 6 May 1982

Joseph Conrad: A Biography 
by Roger Tennant.
Sheldon Press, 276 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 85969 358 9
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Edward Garnett: A Life in Literature 
by George Jefferson.
Cape, 350 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 224 01488 9
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The Edwardian Novelists 
by John Batchelor.
Duckworth, 251 pp., £18, February 1982, 0 7156 1109 7
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The Uses of Obscurity: The Fiction of Early Modernism 
by Allon White.
Routledge, 190 pp., £12, August 1981, 0 7100 0751 5
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... Where Angels Fear to Tread gave a new and unknown author ‘a chance of reaching a public’, and Forster was always grateful for it. Reviewing Forster’s second novel, The Longest Journey, Garnett quoted a remark of Agnes in the book. She asks Rickie why he can’t make his stories more obvious: ‘Uncle Willie floundered ...

Cover Stories

Patrick Parrinder, 4 April 1985

Lives of the Poets: A Novella and Six Stories 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 145 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 7181 2529 0
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The Pork Butcher 
by David Hughes.
Constable, 123 pp., £5.95, April 1984, 0 09 465510 3
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Out of the Blue 
by John Milne.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11489 6
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... among novelists have sometimes been anxious to disclaim the form’s own origins. As E.M. Forster wearily put it, ‘Yes – oh dear yes – the novel tells a story.’ But storytelling will outlive the novel, and it is also elemental to the novel. It is not coincidental that each of the books under review ends with the lure of a further, untold ...

Binarisms

John Sutherland, 18 November 1993

Complicity 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 313 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 316 90688 3
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Against a Dark Background 
by Iain M. Banks.
Orbit, 496 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 1 85723 185 6
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... called it the ‘literary equivalent of the nastiest kind of juvenile delinquency’; Margaret Forster thought it less a novel than the script for a video nasty. Young male novelists routinely seek to give maximum offence. Martin Amis did so in 1975 by calling a novel Dead Babies. In The Wasp Factory Banks recounted acts of child-on-child sadism in a ...

Enisled

John Sutherland: Matthew Arnold, 19 March 1998

A Gift Imprisoned: The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £17.99, March 1998, 0 7475 3671 6
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... background figure for other biographers) verges on the compulsive; her index entry reads: ‘Forster, Jane Martha, née Arnold (M. A.’s sister), 4–424 passim.’ The book is 424 pages long. It was to his sister that Arnold confided the tantalising observation that his poems were merely ‘fragments’: ‘I am fragments, while you are a whole; the ...

Superchild

John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... lifetime, that she could not ‘make things up’, and of course it irritated her. She hated what Forster called the novelist’s ‘faking’ and the death of Rachel in The Voyage Out can be seen as a protest against the way death is managed in fiction. Of the death of Milly Theale in The Wings of the Dove she wrote in her Diary that ‘There is a great ...

Urning

Colm Tóibín: The revolutionary Edward Carpenter, 29 January 2009

Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Verso, 565 pp., £24.99, October 2008, 978 1 84467 295 0
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... a danger to public health, and for the slow emergence of figures such as D.H. Lawrence and E.M. Forster, who would dramatise in novels the end of restriction and the beginning of new possibilities for human freedom. In the middle of all this wandered the poet, socialist, free-thinker and sexual rebel Edward Carpenter, who became one of the most influential ...

Apocalypse

David Trotter, 14 September 1989

The Rainbow 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 672 pp., £55, March 1989, 0 521 22869 7
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D.H. Lawrence in the Modern World 
edited by Peter Preston and Peter Hoare.
Macmillan, 221 pp., £29.50, May 1989, 0 333 45269 0
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D.H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination: Essays on Sexual Identity and Feminist Misreading 
by Peter Balbert.
Macmillan, 190 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 333 43964 3
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... That E.M. Forster gave only two cheers for democracy, but three for D.H. Lawrence, on the occasion of Lawrence’s death, is well-known. Forster was upset that the lowbrows Lawrence scandalised had joined forces with the highbrows he bored to denigrate ‘the greatest imaginative novelist’ of his generation ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... Yeats, Kafka, Woolf, Joyce, Stein, Beckett, Mann, Proust, Gide, Firbank, Lorca, Cocteau, Auden, Forster, Cavafy. But he would have been slightly unsettled, I think, by the thought of the gay element in this list, and by the idea that in place of ‘Irish’ or ‘Jewish’ or ‘Argentine’ in his essay on tradition, you could put the word ‘gay’ or ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such writers and editors do the work he wants to help with – they keep going some intelligent conversation about ...

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