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Todd Almighty

Peter Medawar, 16 February 1984

A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist 
by Alexander Todd.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £15, November 1983, 0 521 25593 7
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... Lord Todd’s describing himself as ‘a chemist’ is not mock modesty but a true representation of how he sees himself and chooses to be seen by others – no ordinary chemist, mind you, but the supremo of British chemistry for very many years and a figure of world rank as well. He is a Nobel Laureate and a peer and has been President of the Royal Society and the Head of a Cambridge College; he has earned, too, what must surely be the rarest and most prestigious of all doubles – membership of our own Order of Merit and of the Order Pour le Mérite, the German model of our own ...

The Faster the Better

Paul Driver: Anatomising Mendelssohn, 3 February 2005

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music 
by Larry Todd.
Oxford, 683 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 19 511043 9
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... life is legendary though not unduly eventful. Now we have it in the kind of detail few need. Larry Todd’s book, in the modern academic fashion, is a chronicle of day by day. It is a chronicle, too, of piece by piece, and song by song, both Felix’s and those of his elder sister, Fanny. Todd has also discovered who lived ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... the old Penguin Classics cover for The Great Gatsby. The far end of this group is presided over by Alexander McQueen, in a huge image blown up to fill a 12 foot archway. The designer most closely associated with the resurgence of British fashion in the last twenty years broods with cigarette and skull like a troubled Hamlet to Vivienne Westwood’s fairy ...

I met murder on the way

Colin Kidd: Castlereagh, 24 May 2012

Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War and Tyranny 
by John Bew.
Quercus, 722 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 85738 186 6
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... defensiveness adequately reflects the outlook of Ulster Unionism. The political scientist Jennifer Todd has distinguished two traditions within it. The first is loyalism, whose primary concern has been the maintenance of a militantly Protestant – and largely Presbyterian – Northern Ireland. Confusingly, these loyalists are suspicious of Great Britain ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... writers before Jane Austen’ are an arbitrary bunch, many obtained from a hacker’s job on Janet Todd’s Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1660-1800. Spender calls this a ‘Dictionary of Women Novelists’ – a significant blunder. Todd covers poets, dramatists, letter-writers and essayists, whereas ...

People shouldn’t be fat

Zachary Leader, 3 October 1996

Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu 
by Simon Callow.
Cape, 640 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 224 03852 4
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Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 460 pp., £20, September 1996, 0 316 91437 1
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... speak’. At 15, Callow comments, the boy’s manner resembled that of ‘an old buffer ... an Alexander Woollcott’, and Thomson notes that throughout his life ‘he adored and worshipped old age.’ Welles’s forced maturity was the work of both parents, from whom he learned to think of childhood as a form of illness or deficiency, a ‘pestilential ...

Love in a Dark Time

Colm Tóibín: Oscar Wilde, 19 April 2001

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde 
edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis.
Fourth Estate, 1270 pp., £35, November 2000, 1 85702 781 7
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... Being Earnest was to open on 14 February. Wilde attended rehearsals, and was persuaded by George Alexander, the actor-manager, who was producing the play and performing in it, to drop the act in which Algernon is almost arrested for debt. This play, too, was a huge success, with both critics and audiences. ‘Oscar Wilde,’ the New York Times ...

Buy birthday present, go to morgue

Colm Tóibín: Diane Arbus, 2 March 2017

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer 
by Arthur Lubow.
Cape, 734 pp., £35, October 2016, 978 0 224 09770 3
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Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov 
by Alexander Nemerov.
Fraenkel Gallery, 106 pp., $30, March 2015, 978 1 881337 41 6
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... in the wrong place. In his elegant and meditative memoir, Silent Dialogues, Nemerov’s son Alexander attempts to tease out the connections between his father’s poetry and his aunt’s photography and the tensions between their two personalities: The world for my father responded only to his intelligence … Arbus, by contrast, could see the world as ...

What the Twist Did for the Peppermint Lounge

Dave Haslam: Club culture, 6 January 2000

Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture 
by Sheryl Garratt.
Headline, 335 pp., £7.99, May 1999, 0 7472 7680 3
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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey 
by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.
Headline, 408 pp., £14.99, November 1999, 0 7472 7573 4
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Saturday Night For Ever: The Story of Disco 
by Alan Jones and Jussi Kantonen.
Mainstream, 223 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 9781840181777
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DJ Culture 
by Ulf Poschardt.
Quartet, 473 pp., £13, January 1999, 0 7043 8098 6
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Energy Flash: A Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture 
by Simon Reynolds.
Picador, 493 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 0 330 35056 0
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More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction 
by Kodwo Eshun.
Quartet, 208 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 7043 8025 0
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... as a dance music tool, presaged a host of (mainly European) sound experiments by the likes of Alexander Robotnik, and established the kind of bassline that hits like ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order would later be built on. His influence is still clear on the dancefloor every Saturday night – last year’s big Euro trance hits by ATB and DJ Jean have more ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 June 2016

... brown brogue boots. He was 47 but looked about 29. There was something studied about him – the Alexander McQueen scarf, the lawyerly punctilio – and I’d never met anyone who spoke so easily about such large sums of money. When I asked him the point of the whole exercise he said it was simple: ‘Buy in, sell out, make some zeroes.’ MacGregor ...

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