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His Peach Stone

Christopher Tayler: J.G. Farrell, 2 December 2010

J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries 
edited by Lavinia Greacen.
Cork, 464 pp., €19.95, September 2010, 978 1 85918 476 9
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... won the 1973 Booker Prize. The award dinners of those days were not ready for primetime: Rab Butler, drunk, tried to warm up the audience with some anti-semitic jokes (‘A Scotsman, an Irishman and a Jewboy – that sort of thing,’ according to Martyn Goff; Terence Kilmartin walked out), and Farrell then followed the 1972 winner, John Berger, in ...

Outbreak of Pleasure

Angus Calder, 23 January 1986

Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... over the temporary triumph of the ‘Tripartite’ system which ensured that, under the 1944 ‘Butler Act’ dispensation of secondary education for all, the majority of schoolchildren were divided into quasi-‘scholarship’ grammar-school sheep and rejected ‘sec. mod.’ goats – comprehensive education in most places came many years later. The ...

But You Married Him

Rosemary Hill: Princess Margaret and Lady Anne, 4 June 2020

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown 
by Anne Glenconner.
Hodder, 336 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 1 5293 5906 0
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... which has led to a tide of unchecked and uncheckable tabloid stories and tales of what the butler says he saw.Princess Margaret belonged to the generation that didn’t talk to the press, but the press talked about her, and after her scandalous romance with the divorced Captain Peter Townsend they talked in ever less respectful terms. She was cast as ...

Jewish Blood

Michael Church, 7 February 1985

Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince 
by Budd Schulberg.
Penguin, 500 pp., £4.95, September 1984, 0 14 006769 8
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Baku to Baker Street: The Memoirs of Flora Solomon 
by Barnet Litvinoff.
Collins, 230 pp., £11.95, June 1984, 0 00 217094 9
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Wilfrid Israel: German Jewry’s Secret Ambassador 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 286 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 297 78308 4
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The Smiths of Moscow: A Story of Britons Abroad 
by Harvey Pitcher.
Swallow House Books, 176 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 905265 01 7
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Family Secrets 
by David Leitch.
Heinemann, 242 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 434 41345 3
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... invalid chair. Auden briefly and reluctantly tutored their son, and his nocturnal hospitality to Christopher Isherwood was announced with distaste by the family butler. Her long liaison with the darkly romantic Alexander Kerensky, which began in cloak-and-dagger circumstances in New York, was only one of many points at ...


Stephen Wall, 26 March 1992

Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... Green told his interviewer that ‘the writer must be disengaged’, and enjoyed pointing out that Christopher Isherwood, who called Living ‘the best proletarian novel ever written’, had never worked in a factory himself. Pontifex’s own employees, having rumbled the fact that Yorke and Green were the same, weren’t so impressed. ‘I read your ...

The Story of Joe

Craig Raine, 4 December 1986

The Orton Diaries 
edited by John Lahr.
Methuen, 307 pp., £12.50, November 1986, 0 413 49660 0
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... family, the Wilkinses, over a number of weeks – and discovered that their youngest child, Christopher, was the deliberate result of an extra-marital affair; that Karen and Gary married at 16 because Karen was pregnant; that another daughter, Heather, was going to marry a black boy; that yet another daughter, Marion, had sexual relations with her ...

The World of School

John Bayley, 28 September 1989

The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... no stigma attaches to being a secret fantasy-snob and no one minds being bullied in a book. But Christopher Sykes, who saw much of Waugh in the Army, and who remained a warm friend, had to remark in his biography that ‘to the naturally weak he was as merciless as he had been in his bullying schooldays ... it always utterly disgusted me.’ Nonetheless ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... were forbidden the use of the carpeted main staircase; Williams’s boss, Humphrey Milford, had a butler who served drinks on a silver salver. His lyrics found an enthusiastic supporter in Alice Meynell, the Catholic versifier, critic and protector of poets – she and her husband, Wilfred Meynell, also nurtured the talent of the wayward Francis ...

Taking Sides

John Mullan: On the high road with Bonnie Prince Charlie, 22 January 2004

The ’45: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Untold Story of the Jacobite Rising 
by Christopher Duffy.
Cassell, 639 pp., £20, March 2003, 0 304 35525 9
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Samuel Johnson in Historical Context 
edited by J.C.D. Clark and Howard Erskine-Hill.
Palgrave, 336 pp., £55, December 2001, 0 333 80447 3
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... that invariably comes with our confident discovery in the past of patterns and developments. Christopher Duffy even provides a map of the likely troop movements to the north of London, making graphically real the imaginary confrontation with which I began. He counts out all the groups of soldiers that would have been involved and tries to estimate the ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... 1923. It’s like Isherwood’s retrospective marvelling, as he sets off to America at the end of Christopher and His Kind, at the unknown future and the unknown life partner who await him: ‘He will be near you for many years without your meeting. But it would be no good if you did meet him now. At present, he is only four years old.’ Forster seems never ...

That was the year that was

Tariq Ali, 24 May 2018

... he called at his house, he said: ‘Guys, what about launching a paper?’ We decided we would and Christopher Logue was deputed to go to what’s now the British Library to look into possible names. I’d said: ‘I’m totally opposed to traditional left names – “Workers’ this”, or “Socialist that”. The people who are coming into politics are not ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... leading literary scholars have similarly written about their favourite critical subjects, such as Christopher Ricks on Tennyson or Marilyn Butler on Jane Austen. There are one or two notable absences among historians who have written principally on British topics – nothing from Linda Colley or Quentin Skinner, for example ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 June 2011

... hills. This is where you find Tibbie Shiel’s Inn, where the Blackwood’s boys James Hogg and Christopher North used to come to liquefy their rhetoric. We entered from a smirr of rain, snoking for supper. It turned out supper was something that happened in the glen before 6.30 p.m. A lady in a white lab coat emerged to remind us of the fact. The phrase ...

Enemies of Promise

Angus Calder, 2 March 1989

Breach of Promise: Labour in Power 1964-1970 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 433 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12683 5
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James Maxton 
by Gordon Brown.
Fontana, 336 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 00 637255 4
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Forward! Labour Politics in Scotland 1888-1988 
edited by Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie and Ian Wood.
Polygon, 184 pp., £19.50, January 1989, 0 7486 6001 1
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... school-leaving age to 16: a commitment envisaged in the 1944 Education Act steered by the Tory Rab Butler. Just two graduates, Crosland and Benn, sided with formerly working-class ministers, amongst whom Brown challenged the Education Minister directly.     Brown: I want a straight answer to a straight question. If you had to choose between these 400,000 ...

‘Someone you had to be a bit careful with’

David Sylvester: Gallery Rogues, 30 March 2000

Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... father, Lionel, a leading banker and industrialist whose own father had been Gordon Selfridge’s butler. Robert seemed a thorough aristo to his friends in the pop music world, but his nobbier chums looked down on him a bit. John Richardson says: One of the odd things about Robert was that he always dressed up. The rest of us were in blue jeans and leather ...

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