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Lucian Freud

Nicholas Penny, 31 March 1988

... which I have had with the artist whilst writing on the early drawings and since seeing the Hay ward exhibition. The group of drawings at the beginning of the exhibition at the Hay ward dates front the Forties – drawings of tense wide-eyed people, the acutest of them Lucian Freud himself, as well as of isolated ...

Making saints

Peter Burke, 18 October 1984

Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom 1000-1700 
by Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell.
Chicago, 314 pp., £21.25, February 1983, 0 226 89055 4
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The Norman Conquest and Beyond 
by Frank Barlow.
Hambledon, 318 pp., £22, June 1983, 0 907628 19 2
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Miracles and the Medieval Mind 
by Benedicta Ward.
Scolar, 321 pp., £17.50, November 1983, 0 85967 609 9
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The Great Debate on Miracles: From Joseph Glanvill to David Hume 
by R.M. Burns.
Associated University Presses, 305 pp., £17.50, July 1983, 0 8387 2378 0
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Saints and their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore and History 
edited by Stephen Wilson.
Cambridge, 435 pp., £35, December 1983, 0 521 24978 3
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... far as the beginning of the century. In a paper published in 1913, the gifted young anthropologist Robert Hertz, soon to be killed in the First World War, studied the cult of Saint Besse as an expression of the values of an Alpine community, ‘taking us inside the consciousness, otherwise so distant and so closed, of the mountain people’. In his Medieval ...


John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... Ian Hamilton came to biography late and triumphantly with his life of the dead but still warm Robert Lowell. Riding high, he went on to attempt an unauthorised life of the aged but very much alive J.D. Salinger and was comprehensively outfoxed by the second most reclusive man in American letters. Hamilton wrote up his experience as a rueful memoir, In ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... Another drawing was done with a nurse’s blue pencil on the flyleaf of a volume of The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson.‘These drawings were presented to me by a very ill man,’ the catalogue entry read, quoting Edward Adamson, the art therapist who first encountered J.J. Beegan in 1946. By the time they met, Adamson explained, Beegan ‘had been in a ...

The President’s Alternate

Fredrik Logevall: Bobby Kennedy, 18 May 2017

Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon 
by Larry Tye.
Ballantine, 624 pp., £15.58, May 2017, 978 0 8129 8350 0
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... It’s​ nearly fifty years since Robert Kennedy was shot as he walked through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The date was 5 June 1968; and he had just won a narrow victory in the California Democratic primary. The gunman, Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant angry about Kennedy’s support for Israel, fired three shots at close range ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones, 4 October 1984

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... pocket, is a detective called Pinkerton. The hulking young bodyguard with two conspicuous guns is Ward Hill Lamon, who proves to be almost as formidable an adherent as Joab was to King David of Israel. There had been a plot to kill Lincoln at Baltimore: that is why the new President has ‘snuck in like some old chicken thief’ – to use the words of one of ...

Tricked Out as a Virgin

Bee Wilson: Respectable Enough, 4 November 2021

The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice 
by Julia Laite.
Profile, 410 pp., £16.99, April, 978 1 78816 442 9
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... expressed pity for the poor women on the street, but many viewed them with misogynist contempt. Robert Fabian, a former London superintendent, wrote in his memoirs that ‘the whore is a bad apple … there is a big brown bruise on her soul, of self-indulgence and selfishness.’ But traffickers and pimps were also vile: ‘the lowest form of animal life on ...

A Book at Bedtime

William Gass, 10 November 1994

The Arabian Nights: A Companion 
by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 344 pp., £20, January 1994, 0 7139 9105 4
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... as the decline of its importance into what, so ironic for the Nights, we call bedtime stories. Robert Irwin’s Companion will describe how these humble and mainly entertaining street stories grew into an enormously influential masterpiece. He will talk about the way the themes in these stories manifest themselves; he will point out their motifs and ...

The Enlightened Vote

Stefan Collini: Ernest Renan, 19 December 2019

‘What Is a Nation?’ and Other Political Writings 
by Ernest Renan, translated and edited by M.F.N. Giglioli.
Columbia, 328 pp., £62, September 2018, 978 0 231 17430 5
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... of the 19th century. For example, his work made a deep impression on the young and precocious Mary Ward, later better known as Mrs Humphry Ward, author of the hugely successful Robert Elsmere (1888). Through the good offices of her uncle, Matthew Arnold, she met Renan in Paris, and thanks ...


Hugh Pennington: Smallpox Scares, 5 September 2002

... abdominal pain, vomiting and a rash. They were admitted that evening to the infectious diseases ward of the local hospital. The most likely diagnosis was thought to be a severe viral infection – but not smallpox. However, at 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 4 April a social worker from Camden rang the hospital to tell them that Mrs Hurley senior had recently been ...

Human Boys

Penelope Fitzgerald, 7 December 1989

True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Robert and Susan Lilian Townsend 
by Sue Townsend.
Methuen, 117 pp., £5.99, August 1989, 0 413 62450 1
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CounterBlasts No 9: Mr Bevan’s Dream 
by Sue Townsend.
Chatto, 74 pp., £2.99, November 1989, 0 7011 3468 2
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... is devoid of love and laughter.’ He goes to a cremation. He visits his mother in the pre-natal ward and is allowed (rather improbably) to watch the birth of his baby sister. He knows, too, that the baby’s father is the next-door neighbour, Mr Lucas. At school he has his own girlfriend, a little older and a good deal cleverer and better-off than ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... Pound (‘the pathos of the loony, traitorous, filthslinging poet in his cage at Pisa or in his ward in the Washington asylum’), to ‘restricted and jejune Eliot’ – Over the Missouri, over the Seine,   Over the Thames, and over the Severn, The soul of white Tom   Shall float to Heaven – to Hardy’s ‘rather monotonously small follower ...

Uncrownable King and Queen

Christopher Sykes, 7 February 1980

The Windsor Story 
by J. Bryan and Charles Murphy.
Granada, 602 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 246 11323 5
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... Duchess with hers, can add much detail but little new basic knowledge, even though Freda Dudley Ward has for the first time broken her silence about her 16-year-long friendship with the Duke when he was Prince. The authors seem indifferent to the perils of the libel laws and in consequence write with refreshing if unchivalrous candour, but unfortunately ...


Alan Bennett: Where was I in 1987?, 10 December 1987

... has cancer and is in intensive care at the Royal Free. Because of staff shortages her ward has to close down at weekends and on Friday she was wheeled across the hospital to a ward where, with men on one side, women on the other, there was scarcely room to move between the beds and several patients were ...

He speaks too loud

David Blackbourn: Brecht, 3 July 2014

Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life 
by Stephen Parker.
Bloomsbury, 704 pp., £30, February 2014, 978 1 4081 5562 2
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... and strait-laced brother Walter. He now immersed himself in British and American literature: Robert Louis Stevenson, Melville, above all Kipling. He became the leading figure in a bohemian gang who wrote and sang songs together, drank, chased girls and shocked respectable burghers. He narrowly avoided being expelled from school: a teacher argued in his ...

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