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The Tories’ Death-Wish

Kenneth O. Morgan, 15 May 1980

Tariff Reform in British Politics 
by Alan Sykes.
Oxford, 352 pp., £16, December 1979, 0 19 822483 4
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... it was a strange, anarchic, self-destructive phase. Much new light is shed on these mysteries by Alan Sykes’s fascinating new book, which covers the 1903-13 period. He traces again the now familiar story of Joseph Chamberlain’s crusade for tariff reform, which captivated the party faithful and captured the party machine between 1903 and 1905. In ...

Never the twain

Mark Amory, 4 March 1982

Evelyn Waugh, Writer 
by Robert Murray Davis.
Pilgrim Books, 342 pp., $20.95, May 1981, 0 937664 00 6
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... so many tiny shrubs that, in our opinion, the outline of the forest is lost. Our Christopher Sykes set the tone in 1975 when he described the (American) Evelyn Waugh Newsletter as ‘overloaded with pedantic debate about trifles’. I have not seen the Newsletter’s review of his official biography, but one American claimed to have counted 217 ...

Country Life

David Cannadine, 5 November 1981

The Victorian Countryside 
edited by G.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... the appearance of the landscape and on patterns of population growth and migration. R.J. Olney and Alan Gilbert investigate those two bastions of the English landed establishment, the county constituencies and the Church of England; and Messrs Howell, Gray and Cullen survey agriculture, tenurial relations and politics on the Celtic fringe. Finally, the view ...

Half-Way up the Hill

Frank Kermode, 7 July 1988

Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... up by Maurice Bowra, and through him grew friendly with Kenneth Clark, John Sparrow, Henry Yorke, Alan Pryce-Jones, Osbert Lancaster, Robert Byron, Anthony Powell, Peter Quennell, Tom Driberg, Harold Acton, Christopher Sykes, Randolph Churchill, W.H. Auden, and lots of others, including Gaitskell once more (‘Hugh, may I ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012, 3 January 2013

... without a smile R. feels that for this alone they deserve to win. Brian, Stewie, David Mamet, Alan Bennett and Yasmina Reza in Family Guy. 25 April. At five a car comes to take me down to Silk studios on Berwick Street to record a voiceover (of my own voice) for an episode of Family Guy, the story being that Brian, the dog, has written a ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... and Wells, remember where they are? (They are no trouble at all, handling Muggeridge, Christopher Sykes and Douglas Cleverdon with tact and perspicacity.) Alan Bennett still smoulders over the tabloid oafs who pursued Russell Harty. He disdains to specify ‘the gravestone vulgarity’ from which Harty ‘never entirely ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... have names like Dummy Oliver, Blinker Hall, Biffy Dunderdale, Lousy Payne, Buster Milmo, Pay Sykes, Tar Robertson, Barmy Russel and Quex Sinclair (not to be confused with his successor but one, Sinbad Sinclair)? It’s no good reassuring the reader that in the transition from Victorian days, when men called even their closest friends by their ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry, 4 October 2001

Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... had discovered and explored the Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience with the musician John Sykes, who was setting them at the time; his single major contribution to Left Review in the 1930s was an essay on the prophetic books called ‘The Imputation of Madness’. He carried the considerable bulk of the Nonsuch Blake in his kitbag throughout the war ...
... were constantly before his eyes: he refers to them time and again in his letters. Christopher Sykes teased Waugh once by suggesting that Hell must be his favourite dogma. ‘If,’ he replied, ‘we were allowed “favourite dogmas” it might be. If you mean I see nothing to doubt in it and no cause for “modernist” squeamish revulsion, you are quite ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... with the subject, a close friend whom for many years she knew and admired – Christopher Sykes on Waugh is the nearest parallel? In such cases, affection can shape the compass of a biography, personal knowledge lighting up but also limiting what can be said. Perhaps there are traces of that here; but, on the whole, in the warmth and grace of ...

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