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Alan Brien, 5 December 1985

Orson Welles 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 562 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78476 5
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The Making of ‘Citizen Kane’ 
by Robert Carringer.
Murray, 180 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7195 4248 0
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Spike Milligan 
by Pauline Scudamore.
Granada, 318 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12275 7
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Nancy Mitford 
by Selina Hastings.
Hamish Hamilton, 274 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 241 11684 8
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Rebel: The Short Life of Esmond Romilly 
by Kevin Ingram.
Weidenfeld, 252 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 297 78707 1
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The Mitford Family Album 
by Sophia Murphy.
Sidgwick, 160 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 283 99115 1
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... on Fleet Street, hurrying towards the Evening Standard offices, then around the corner in Shoe Lane. I tagged along as he explained, between puffs, that there had been an unfortunate misprint in a piece he had written about Orson Welles. Luckily, he had spotted this in the first edition and now was on his way to ensure it was corrected for the rest of the ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... common, apart from the ministrations of Boaden. They have a Hereford background. As the heroine of Margaret Drabble’s Garrick Year remarks, ‘it seemed that [Garrick] had been born in Hereford, as had Kemble, Mrs Siddons and Nell Gwynne, though of the four Garrick seemed to me to be the most interesting character.’ In fact, most authorities assign the ...

Shaw tests the ice

Ronald Bryden, 18 December 1986

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 1241 pp., £65, September 1986, 0 571 13901 9
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... dine on macaroni and cheese at the Porridge Bowl in Soho or the Orange Grove in St Martin’s Lane. After plays and concerts, he was happy with eggs and cocoa at home. The tiny, painstaking reckonings at the end of each day grind on one’s nerves as they must have on his. You can feel his exhilaration when, with his share of the insurance paid at his ...


Hugo Young, 24 March 1994

Europe: The Europe We Need 
by Leon Brittan.
Hamish Hamilton, 248 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 241 00249 4
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... circles is the prospect of a two-speed Europe, in which Britain would be consigned to the slow lane. John Major and Douglas Hurd believe Britain will be in control of the 1996 agenda, and dismiss the possibility that others any longer wish to move faster towards integration than they do. Therefore, they contend, the old model of fast and slow tracks is out ...


Pat Rogers, 6 November 1986

Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in 18th-Century Imagery 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 139 pp., £29.50, May 1986, 0 19 817371 7
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Augustan Studies: Essays in honour of Irvin Ehrenpreis 
edited by Douglas Lane Patey and Timothy Keegan.
University of Delaware Press, 270 pp., £24.50, May 1986, 9780874132724
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The 18th Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1700-1789 
by James Sambrook.
Longman, 290 pp., £15.95, April 1986, 0 582 49306 4
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... grey in the dark doings of romantic opera. The longest and most significant item is an essay by Margaret Anne Doody connecting Gulliver’s Travels and Virgil’s Georgics. This covers a variety of animal and vegetable themes; the links which it proposes range from the bones and skulls dug up in Brobdignag (from the end of the first Georgic) to Houyhnhnm ...

A Dangerously Liquid World

John Sutherland: Alcoholics Anonymous, 30 November 2000

Bill W. and Mr Wilson: The Legend and Life of AA’s Co-Founder 
by Matthew Raphael.
Massachusetts, 206 pp., £18.50, June 2000, 1 55849 245 3
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... rite of passage. Beer Street is as wholesomely British as it was in Hogarth’s day (not so Drug Lane). AA rests on mysterious foundations. Given the inviolable ‘tradition’ of anonymity (‘the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities’) no one actually knows how therapeutically effective its ...

Ladies and Gentlemen

Patricia Beer, 6 May 1982

The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... work of women imaginative writers.’ So into the witness-box come successively Edna O’Brien, Margaret Drabble, Penelope Mortimer, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch. In the case of three, perhaps four, of the witnesses nothing is said about how they give their evidence. In the two years that Rebecca West was contributing to the Clarion, 1912 and 1913, she ...

Who will stop them?

Owen Hatherley: The Neo-Elite, 23 October 2014

The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... words for Blairites who have recently rediscovered some of their radicalism: Angela Eagle and Margaret Hodge, for example, now comfortably far enough from power safely to denounce the tax-dodgers and newspaper barons they would have bowed before five years ago. Jones attempts to understand why the Labour Party became so drastically conformist in its ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... which may have led to tensions with her Puritan husband. In 1613 a haberdasher called John Lane alleged that she had ‘bin naught with Rafe Smith’ and had contracted ‘the runinge of the raynes’ (i.e. gonorrhea); she sued him for slander and won the case. Hall’s own medical case-books – a digest of which was published in 1657 by a Warwick ...

Cut, Kill, Dig, Drill

Jonathan Raban: Sarah Palin’s Cunning, 9 October 2008

... High, the 32-year-old mayor set about turning the town into the kind of enterprise society that Margaret Thatcher used to extol. She abolished its building codes and signed a series of ordinances that re-zoned residential property for commercial and industrial use. When the city attorney ordered construction to stop on a house being built by one of her ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney, 11 June 2009

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... on in the faith that a reward was … in heaven’. The religious sensibility that led Hopkins, Margaret Heaney and the teenaged Seamus Heaney to Catholic piety emerged in the adult poet as attachment to land, to numinous sites: an attachment analogous to, but never identical with, religious faith. Critics distinguish genres of poems about rural places ...

On the Lower Slopes

Stefan Collini: Greene’s Luck, 5 August 2010

Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 580 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 224 07921 1
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... of the London Magazine. He has written well-received biographies of Cyril Connolly and Allen Lane, and has already published three volumes of autobiography, the last entitled Grub Street Irregular. Now he has written a book which is, the blurb tells us, ‘both a riveting exercise in group biography and a masterly account of English society in the 20th ...

Little England

Patrick Wright: The view through a bus window, 7 September 2006

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels through Unfamous Places 
by David McKie.
Atlantic, 359 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 1 84354 132 7
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... same genre as the rumour – even David McKie has been unable to turn up a precise source – that Margaret Thatcher once remarked that anyone who rode a bus after reaching the age of 26 was a failure. It also reminded me of a story Ken Livingstone liked to recite when he was leader of the GLC. One day, he had found himself taking the Underground in the ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing, 23 August 2001

A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... long and organised chronologically. Yet Lindqvist is plainly reluctant to portray history as a six-lane motorway surging forward, with bombs burning more brightly and more effectively along the way. Having established his chronological sequence, he sets about disturbing it, throwing zigzag paths across it and even joining lanes that would normally be running ...


Alan Bennett: What I Did in 2015, 7 January 2016

... Complaint I’m not surprised at Dad’s reaction when he found it in my bookcase at Wood Lane fifty years ago. In some misguided missionary zeal that makes me cringe even to remember I may actually have recommended it. Because if it shocked him then it shocks me now, though I don’t imagine he read more than a few pages before putting it back and ...

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