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Dennis Nilsen, or the Pot of Basil

John Ryle, 21 February 1985

Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen 
by Brian Masters.
Cape, 352 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 224 02184 2
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by Pickles.
Quartet, 289 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2439 3
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Ritualised Homosexuality in Melanesia 
edited by Gilbert Herdt.
California, 409 pp., £19.95, October 1984, 0 520 05037 1
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... home with him. When they disappeared, nobody cared, except, perhaps, Dennis Nilsen. I am sitting cross-legged on the carpet, drinking and listening to music ... I drain my glass and take the phones off. Behind me sits Stephen Sinclair on the lazy chair. He was crashed out with drink and drugs. I sit and look at him. I stand up and approach him. My heart is ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... the biggest prig of all. When trying to adapt socialism to the affluent society of the late 1950s, Anthony Crosland had little time for this puritanical earnestness: ‘Total abstinence,’ he observed, ‘and a good filing system are not now the right signposts to the socialist Utopia.’ In at least two ways, however, Crosland’s put-down of the Webbs ...

Hurricane Brooke

Brian Bond, 2 September 1982

by David Fraser.
Collins, 604 pp., £12.95, April 1982, 0 00 216360 8
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... suddenly pervaded the place. I could feel it stabbing through me. This was the CIGS. Thus Anthony Powell brilliantly evokes the dynamic personal impact of General Sir Alan Brooke in his novel The Military Philosophers. Brooke held positions of critical responsibility and as CIGS was titular head of the Army for the greater part of the Second World ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... were, And lived lesse in awe; Now, God be thanked! People feare More to ofend the law. Anthony Munday, in his play The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington (1598), redated the hero to the end of the 12th century, which had ‘the remarkable effect of reversing his political tendency’. Munday makes Robin’s enemies ‘only the corrupt and the ...

Flann O’Brien’s Lies

Colm Tóibín, 5 January 2012

... hotel, had called Joyce ‘that refurbisher of skivvies’ stories’. As O’Brien’s biographer Anthony Cronin rightly pointed out, ‘it is charitable to assume that O’Nolan had already begun to hear too much about Joyce’s influence on his book from his readers in Dublin, whether friends or enemies.’ In 1961 O’Brien wrote to his editor: ‘If I ...

Free speech for Rupert Murdoch

Stephen Sedley, 19 December 1991

... as the splendour, of the emperor’s new clothes. For the handful of liberals – Lord Scarman, Anthony Lester, Michael Zander – who have been arguing for decades that we need to have our rights and the government’s powers written down and invigilated by independent judges, the Nineties are looking like the moment of truth. That they were right about ...

The Moral Life of Barbarians

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 18 August 1983

The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology 
by Anthony Pagden.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £24, September 1982, 0 521 22202 8
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... such juntas and advise the Crown, into an argument that lasted for more than sixty years. And as Anthony Pagden explains, this argument can also be read as the start of what one can retrospectively recognise as anthropological thinking in Europe. Indeed, Pagden’s subtle account of it is a model for the history of anthropology altogether. It shows, too, how ...


Barbara Everett, 7 May 1981

A Night in the Gazebo 
by Alan Brownjohn.
Secker, 64 pp., £3, November 1980, 0 436 07114 2
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Victorian Voices 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Oxford, 42 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 19 211937 0
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The Illusionists 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 138 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 436 16810 3
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... wide-swinging relativism the uncommitted term ‘voice’ has a special part to play. The title of Anthony Thwaite’s Victorian Voices seems to go beyond a use of the word to describe the Browningesque dramatic quality of these 14 verse monologues. It suggests also his subjects’ ambiguous relation with the real, their semi-symbolic function: they are ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... which may have wide public consequences, can only be appraised by reference to his earliest years. Anthony Clare, from his psychiatrist’s chair, would write a far more interesting profile than the average political editor. Ben Pimlott, in his brilliant biography of Hugh Dalton, caught the character of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer with great ...

Economic Performance

Sydney Checkland, 19 April 1984

The Victorian Economy 
by François Crouzet, translated by Anthony Forster.
Methuen, 430 pp., £18, June 1982, 0 416 31110 5
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British Economic Growth 1856-1973 
by R.C.O. Matthews, C.H. Feinstein and J.C. Odling-Smee.
Oxford, 712 pp., £37.50, October 1982, 0 19 828453 5
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The Cambridge Economic History of Europe. Vol. VII: The Industrial Economies: Capital, Labour and Enterprise 
edited by Peter Mathias.
Cambridge, 832 pp., £13.50, June 1982, 0 521 28800 2
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... is even the case that many practitioners of the other social sciences consider sociology a heavy cross to bear in a hostile environment. Little comfort comes from historians of the more general kind: modern history and economic history continue to see each other as alien cultures, and the advent of the computer has made the divide more acute. The modern ...

Mary, Mary

Christopher Hitchens, 8 April 1993

Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Anthony Summers.
Gollancz, 576 pp., £18.99, March 1993, 0 575 04236 2
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... which gossip had spoken of as not unknown in the German army. [Emphasis mine.] On page 222 of Anthony Summers’s vastly enjoyable and revealing book, we find J. Edgar Hoover’s lovely home in Rock Creek Park being done up at taxpayers’ expense, complete with ‘hand-crafted fruit bowl’ and ‘a heated toilet seat, invented in the FBI ...

Many Andies

Andrew O’Hagan, 16 October 1997

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 35 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2319 4
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Style, Style, Style 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 30 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2320 8
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Who is Andy Warhol? 
edited by Colin MacCabe, Mark Francis and Peter Wollen.
BFI, 162 pp., £40, May 1997, 9780851705880
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All Tomorrow’s Parties: Billy Name’s Photographs of Andy Warhol’s Factory 
by Billy Name.
frieze, 144 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 9527414 1 5
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The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night 
by Anthony Haden-Guest.
Morrow, 404 pp., $25, April 1996, 9780688141516
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... find better uses for insanity. But first he wanted to be rich. Warhol’s attitude to money was a cross between Jay Gatsby’s and Holly Golightly’s – he yearned for the world where money allowed you to be whoever you wanted to be, where money was confidence and confidence was character, and where each day was a promise of diamonds as big as the ...

In Praise of Middle Government

Ian Gilmour, 12 July 1990

Liberalisms. Essays in Political Philosophy 
by John Gray.
Routledge, 273 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 415 00744 5
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The Voice of Liberal Learning: Michael Oakeshott on Education 
edited by Timothy Fuller.
Yale, 169 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04344 9
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The Political Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott 
by Paul Franco.
Yale, 277 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04686 3
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by Ted Honderich.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £16.99, June 1990, 0 241 12999 0
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... Brown. Much the same happens with work by non-politicians. Two very good non-extremist studies, Anthony Quinton’s The Politics of Imperfection and Noel O’Sullivan’s Conservatism, appear, but they are almost alone. Norton and Aughey’s Conservatives and Conservatism is well beyond Honderich’s ken. Even Lord Coleraine’s right-wing For Conservatives ...


Ben Pimlott: Anthony Crosland, 3 September 1998

Crosland’s Future: Opportunity and Outcome 
by David Reisman.
Macmillan, 237 pp., £47.50, October 1997, 0 333 65963 5
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... inherited the college fellowship of his tutor, Robert Hall, taught (inter alios) the undergraduate Anthony Wedgwood Benn, and entered Parliament in 1950 as MP for South Gloucester. It was a swashbuckling rise by a young man full of glamour. ‘I am more fond and proud of that young man than I can put into words,’ recorded Dalton, who had been in love with ...

A Pickwick among Poets, Exiled in the Fatherland of Pickled Fish

Colin Burrow: British Latin verse, 19 August 1999

The English Horace: Anthony Alsop and the Traditions of British Latin Verse 
by D.K. Money.
Oxford, 406 pp., £38, December 1998, 0 19 726184 1
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... book seeks to rescue one exponent of this cliqueish art-form from the dust-heap. His hero is Anthony Alsop (1669-1726), Pickwick among poets, a figure whose donnish and parsonical life was disturbed only when in 1716 he married the widow of the former incumbent of his living in Berkshire. He was promptly sued by his mistress for breach of promise and had ...

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