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Hard Man

Ian Hamilton, 16 October 1980

Walk Don’t Walk The Camp From Scenes Like These 
by Gordon Williams.
Allison and Busby, 264 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 85031 309 0
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... Gordon Williams, formerly Gordon M. Williams: born 1934, educated at the John Neilson Institution in Paisley. Worked in Scotland as a farm labourer and newspaper reporter before undergoing National Service in Germany with the RAF. Has worked as a novelist for 16 years, based mainly in Soho but with a spell of rural isolation on the edge of Dartmoor ...

Literature and the Left

Marilyn Butler, 18 August 1983

English Literature in History: 1730-80: An Equal, Wide Survey 
edited by Raymond Williams, by John Barrell.
Hutchinson, 228 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149820 1
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English Literature in History: 1350-1400: Medieval Readers and Writers 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Janet Coleman.
Hutchinson, 337 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 09 144100 5
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English Literature in History: 1780-1830: Pastoral and Politics 
edited by Raymond Williams, by Roger Sales.
Hutchinson, 247 pp., £13.50, March 1983, 0 09 149830 9
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The Cambridge Guide to English Literature 
by Michael Stapleton.
Cambridge/Newnes Books, 992 pp., £15, April 1983, 9780521256476
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... It is a surprise to find Raymond Williams, in the year of his retirement as Professor of Drama at Cambridge, editing a series called ‘Literature in History’. In a writing career that almost spans the post-war period, he has established himself as this country’s leading critic within academic English of the very concept of ‘Literature ...

Donald’s Duck

John Sturrock, 22 August 1996

Bradman 
by Charles Williams.
Little, Brown, 336 pp., £20, August 1996, 0 316 88097 3
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... a transcendent scale: just how transcendent you can see by looking at one of the tables in Charles Williams’s book, which shows Bradman, with his lifetime Test average of 99.94, almost forty runs an innings ahead of any other player, the run-rich Lara included. Not that a single hit for four would have done for me that day; I wanted to sit through a hundred ...

Vicarious Sages

Michael Mason, 3 November 1983

John Forster: A Literary Life 
by James Davies.
Leicester University Press, 318 pp., £25, June 1983, 0 7185 1164 6
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Mr George Eliot: A Biography of George Henry Lewes 
by David Williams.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.95, June 1983, 0 340 25717 2
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Johnnie Cross 
by Terence de Vere White.
Gollancz, 153 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 575 03333 9
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... man. The coincidence is made more striking by the similarities between George Henry Lewes and John Forster. They were two of the stars of Victorian literary journalism: much in demand as editors, and absolutely reliable in their capacity to produce essays and reviews of first-rate quality on a huge range of topics at an intimidating speed. They both ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles WilliamsThe Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... full of joy Unscheduled on the Giesen Plan, With, here, an addict of Tolkien, There, a Charles Williams fan.If Auden were on the circuit now, he’d still find plenty of Tolkien addicts, but he’d go a long way before stumbling on a Charles Williams fan. Charles Williams influenced a ...

Clarety Clarity

Colin Burrow: Herrick and His Maidens, 31 July 2014

The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick 
edited by Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly.
Oxford, 504 pp. and 803 pp., £125, October 2013, 978 0 19 921284 2
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... came of age and could spend his own money he went to the flashiest college in Cambridge, St John’s. He later moved to Trinity Hall, where he complained to his rich uncle that he had ‘runn somewhat deepe into my Tailours debt’. He studied law and acquired expensive friends, many of whom he retained throughout his life. In 1623, aged over thirty, he ...

What Philosophers Dream Of

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Bernard Williams, 2 July 2015

Essays and Reviews 1959-2002 
by Bernard Williams.
Princeton, 435 pp., £24.95, January 2014, 978 0 691 15985 0
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... going to say better than you understand it yourself’, Gilbert Ryle said of the young Bernard Williams, ‘and sees all the possible objections to it, all the possible answers to all the possible objections, before you’ve got to the end of your sentence’. Williams’s declared enemies in philosophy ...

Sex’n’Love

Blake Morrison, 21 February 1991

The Chatto Book of Love Poetry 
edited by John Fuller.
Chatto, 374 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3453 4
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The Faber Book of Blue Verse 
edited by John Whitworth.
Faber, 305 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14095 5
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Self-Portrait with a Slide 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 62 pp., £5.95, June 1990, 0 19 282744 8
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The Virago Book of Love Poetry 
edited by Wendy Mulford.
Virago, 288 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 1 85381 030 4
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Erotica: An Anthology of Women’s Writing 
edited by Margaret Reynolds, foreword by Jeanette Winterson .
Pandora, 362 pp., £19.99, November 1990, 9780044406723
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Daddy, Daddy 
by Paul Durcan.
Blackstaff, 185 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 85640 446 2
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... to do without ‘misogynist satire, self-congratulation, smut’. He has left these to the other John, whose anthology is bold, noisy, rude, aggressive and full of itself, all of which things love can be, too, given half a chance. Neither editor is taking any chances, though. Fuller’s book, which has a long and elegant introductory essay, is an ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... to Greece. Tony mentions in the poem her absent friends: George Devine, Ron Eyre, Tony Richardson, John and John (Dexter and Osborne), and at the conclusion a cake is brought in and Jocelyn is crowned with laurels. It could be thought pretentious but since Jocelyn is so far from pretentious it seems both fitting and moving.I ...

Pornography and Feminism

Bernard Williams, 17 March 1983

... John Sutherland has produced ‘a calendar following a series of events (mostly trials) from 1960 to the present day’, which deals briefly and brightly with obscenity cases from Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Fanny Hill to The Romans in Britain.* The aim is to investigate changes in public attitudes to ‘offensive literature ...

No Longer Merely the Man Who Ate His Boots

Thomas Jones: The Northwest Passage, 27 May 2010

Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage 
by Glyn Williams.
Allen Lane, 440 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 84614 138 6
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Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation 
by Andrew Lambert.
Faber, 428 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 0 571 23160 7
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... the new maps that could only be made by sending men beyond the edges of the old maps. Glyn Williams’s Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage is an engrossing account of four centuries of exploration, as expedition after expedition tried to negotiate a course through the vast, multitudinous, close-set and ice-locked archipelago to the ...

Molasses Nog

Ange Mlinko: Diane Williams, 18 April 2019

The Collected Stories 
by Diane Williams.
Soho, 764 pp., £20, October 2018, 978 1 61695 982 1
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... Rushing​ out of the house for an appointment, I grabbed what I thought was Diane Williams’s Collected Stories. When I retrieved the book from my bag, I was surprised to find it was actually the latest volume of Sylvia Plath’s letters: they’re both large hardbacks whose pale jackets are touched with baby blue ...

To Stir up the People

John Barrell: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm, 23 January 2014

Unusual Suspects: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Oxford, 376 pp., £30, July 2013, 978 0 19 965780 3
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... Priestley, were veterans of public discussion; others, like William Godwin, Coleridge, Helen Maria Williams and James Montgomery, were just setting out on careers that promised extraordinary achievements. They are unusual suspects because they were not organisers and activists, orators and pamphleteers who urged direct action in support of reform, or who set ...

Ruskin among others

Raymond Williams, 20 June 1985

John Ruskin: The Early Years 
by Tim Hilton.
Yale, 301 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 300 03298 6
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... after 1860 and especially in the years after 1870.’ But this statement is from the foreword to John Ruskin: The Early Years, 1819-1859 – the only volume so far issued. The general judgment seems to me to be right. What might meanwhile be useful is to reflect on the changing perceptions of Ruskin, from the vantage-point of this latest and evidently ...

Aspects of My Case

Hugo Williams, 21 April 1983

... he took hold of my ear. I stood in the corner near the insect case, remembering my bike. I had the John Bull Puncture Repair Kit in my pocket: glass paper, rubber solution, patches, chalk and grater, spare valves. I was ‘riding dead’ – freewheeling downhill with my arms folded and my eyes shut, looking Mr Ray in the eye. Every time I looked round he ...

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