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As time goes by

Brenda Maddox, 2 July 1981

Ingrid Bergman: My Story 
by Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess.
Joseph, 480 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7181 1946 0
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... tell us something about Miss Bergman’s capacity for self-deception that she could neither leave Alan Burgess alone to write her biography nor sit down and write her own? Instead, they did it together, the actress and the author. Mr Burgess wrote The Small Woman, from which Miss Bergman’s 41st film, The Inn of the ...


Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... survey of post-war fiction. In the late Fifties and after, Kingsley Amis, Johns Wain and Braine, Alan Sillitoe and Co struck a new, demotic note. The ‘traditional’ English novel of good and bad manners was radicalised and updated. Karl Miller helped to institute a new criticism which seemed to owe more to a modest, clean, unadorned English than to the ...
Stafford Cripps: A Political Life 
by Simon Burgess.
Gollancz, 374 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 575 06565 6
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... more than one able biographer. Morrison received a full and sympathetic scholarly appraisal, while Alan Bullock’s magisterial biography of Bevin ran to three volumes. Dalton, abruptly replaced by Cripps at the Treasury in 1947, was strikingly restored to historical attention, in large part thanks to Ben Pimlott’s commanding biography. If Cripps’s stature ...

Alan Bennett writes about his new play

Alan Bennett: ‘The Habit of Art’, 5 November 2009

... in Howards End). He’s less obviously out of the same box as Coral Browne, who, visiting Guy Burgess in his seedy flat in Moscow in An Englishman Abroad, pauses by a bookshelf (oh, those bookshelves!) obviously baffled by most of its contents and even more so by Burgess’s questions about Harold Nicolson, Cyril ...

Astrid, Clio and Julia

Alan Bell, 17 July 1980

The Wanton Chase 
by Peter Quennell.
Collins, 192 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 00 216526 0
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... contemporary London, with Nina Hamnett and Co, and a mandatory but notably unrevealing section on Burgess and Maclean. Two sections are, however, outstanding: on the landowner and painter Dick Wyndham and the connoisseur-collector Sir Robert Abdy. Wyndham, a man who found relief from his various tensions in the variety and depths of his friendships, comes ...


Susannah Clapp, 23 July 1987

A Life with AlanThe Diary of A.J.P. Taylor’s Wife, Eva, from 1978 to 1985 
by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 241 12118 3
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The Painted Banquet: My Life and Loves 
by Jocelyn Rickards.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 297 79119 2
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The Beaverbrook Girl 
by Janet Aitken Kidd.
Collins, 240 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 00 217602 5
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... I had homesickness.’ Had she perhaps kept a diary? ‘Of course.’ And here it is. Life with Alan has not been Eva Haraszti’s only life. She was 55 when, in 1978, she left Budapest to come to London as A.J.P. Taylor’s third wife: she was a widow, a scholar, and the mother of two grown-up sons. Her diary reports on the time she has spent as an amateur ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2009, 7 January 2010

... of agents in a way that’s never been proved of Blunt. What counted though, against Blunt, and Burgess too, was that they weren’t journo-friendly. Journalists look after their own and Philby masqueraded as a devil-may-care drunken newspaperman and so was treated more indulgently by those in his profession. Blunt, who was an austere homosexual, a Marxist ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... so still seems contemporary. The most startling revelation is that it includes a character called Alan Bennet (sic) who is described as ‘in his late forties. He is neatly dressed but there is an indefinable quality of failure about him’.Coward’s play was staged in September 1960, a month after Beyond the Fringe, and a year after I had appeared on the ...

Soldier, Sailor, Poacher

E.S. Turner, 3 October 1985

Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... three who fell down on the job (the diplomats who failed to rumble Hitler) or those who, like Guy Burgess, simply did something the influence of which on events is ‘too profound to ignore’. So much for the word ‘Great’. The word ‘Britons’ is also strained by the inclusion of, for example, Gandhi, Smuts and De Valera. The subtitle ‘20th-century ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1989, 11 January 1990

... It takes me a time to realise that she is not talking about her treasured copies of Anthony Burgess but her social security books.12 March. Names of the Albanian Football Team.The Interpreter: Ilir Agolli.The Manager: Shyqri Rrelli.The Goalkeeper: Blendi Nallbani.2 April. Hotel Terminus, Marcel Ophuls’s documentary on Klaus Barbie, includes an account ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... Lowells (d. 1977, with the Collected Poems coming next year) are a good buy; stock in Anthony Burgess (d. 1993) should probably be held for a year or two; Borgeses (d. 1986) will surge once the editing and republishing are sorted out; James Merrills (d. 1995) should be sold now and rebought later; Becketts (d. 1989) look a little iffy (though would-be ...


Julian Barnes: Burning Letters, 7 July 1988

... be good’. But ‘good’ isn’t good enough as a category.) Last year’s promotion of Anthony Burgess to official Grand Old Man was a case in point. After years of getting respectful, rather than ecstatic reviews, and of writing the sort of books which perhaps aren’t naturally suited to the British book-reader, ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... and whom I have in the past both in print and in interviews taken care to distinguish from Burgess, Blunt and their associates. Cold-hearted, devious and supposedly a good chap, Philby has never appealed to me any more than Graham Greene does, who was his friend and admirer. It’s ironical that even after his departure for Moscow Philby was always ...

Hinsley’s History

Noël Annan, 1 August 1985

Diplomacy and Intelligence during the Second World War: Essays in Honour of F.H. Hinsley 
edited by Richard Langhorne.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £27.50, May 1985, 0 521 26840 0
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. I: 1939-Summer 1941, Vol. II: Mid-1941-Mid-1943, Vol. III, Part I: June 1943-June 1944 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 616 pp., £12.95, September 1979, 0 11 630933 4
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... the overt international Communist organisation of the inter-war years. He correctly identifies Burgess as the recruiting sergeant and equally correctly surmises that while all were convinced Communists, for Burgess (and probably for Blunt) recruitment began as a hilarious undergraduate spree. After all, as young men, all ...


Karl Miller: Edna O’Brien, 22 November 2012

Country Girl: A Memoir 
by Edna O’Brien.
Faber, 339 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 571 26943 3
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... and Archbishop McQuaid’s poison pen, but makes a considerable satirical success of the scene. ‘Alan C. Breeze had returned from England with a set of false teeth, which he claimed to have belonged to T.S. Eliot.’ The better to bite her with, no doubt. A married woman, she then went off to London, which owned a little Dublin of its own as far as hard ...

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