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Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox, 6 November 1980

Garbo 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... adored of early movie queens walk out at the height of her career and become a virtual recluse? Alexander Walker treats Garbo as a mystery to which he at last can offer an answer. Indifference to the prize, he says; the same detachment that enabled her, at 20 and just arrived in Hollywood, with little English, to defy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the ...
Timebends: A Life 
by Arthur Miller.
Methuen, 614 pp., £17.95, November 1987, 0 413 41480 9
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Vivien Leigh: The Life of Vivien Leigh 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79118 4
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... husband were nearing their conclusion. To his biography of that beautiful and damned creature Alexander Walker brings knowledge, sympathy and tact in equal measure: Vivien is the best account we could possibly expect while key figures in the drama are still living. He is especially good on the early life and convent schooldays, and his chronicle of ...

Falling Stars

Alan Coren, 5 November 1981

Richard Burton 
by Paul Ferris.
Weidenfeld, 212 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77966 4
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Peter Sellers 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 297 77965 6
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... actually gives us a list of people who wouldn’t talk about his hero: these include Claire Bloom, Alexander Cohen, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Sir John Gielgud, Hugh Griffiths, Joseph Losey, James Mason, Vincente Minnelli, Mike Nichols, Rachel Roberts, Daphne Rye, Jean Simmons, and three of his wives, Sybil Christopher, Elizabeth Taylor and Susan ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... Reviews of the film have elided the difference between actor and role. In the Evening Standard, Alexander Walker detected ‘a rehabilitation and a revelation. The rehabilitation is that of Stephen Fry. The truant stage actor returns to the top of the class with a dominating screen performance. His Oscar Wilde is the emotional and intellectual ...

Who were they?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: ‘Thuggee’, 3 December 2009

Stranglers and Bandits: A Historical Anthology of ‘Thuggee’ 
edited by Kim Wagner.
Oxford, 318 pp., £22.99, January 2009, 978 0 19 569815 2
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... was increasingly diffused across population groups rather than centred on tyrannical individuals. Alexander Walker, or Walker of Bowland (1764-1831), joined the Company as a cadet in about 1780, and served in the wars against Tipu Sultan. Later, he was sent as a Company administrator to Gujarat and Malabar, before ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice, 11 October 2018

... Hoboken, New Jersey (the photograph can be seen in George Tice: A Celebration, at the Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York until 13 October). In the foreground is an Esso gas station, a Ford Fairlane parked behind the pumps, filling up, a fluorescent logo above the white office area, the entire station floodlit, probably with mercury vapour lamps. Behind ...

Call it Hollywood

Wayne Koestenbaum: The sex life of Rudolph Valentino, 16 December 2004

Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino 
by Emily Leider.
Faber, 514 pp., £8.99, November 2004, 0 571 21819 9
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... not?) with men. He wasn’t the first to climb the ladder from prostitute to superstar. As Alexander Walker, quoted by Leider, observes: ‘There is a parallel here with Greta Garbo’s early experience as a lather-girl in a back-street barber’s in Stockholm. She, too, would cash in later on her early training in the arts of servicing and ...

Diary

C.J. Walker: In Erevan, 6 July 1989

... for example, who stormed Kars in the war of 1877, and who was appointed chancellor to Alexander II. (He makes an appearance in Tolstoy’s short story ‘Hadji Murat’.) At the close of the turbulent period which followed the First World War, it was the 11th Red Army which rescued Armenia from the jaws of the Turkish Nationalists. Since ...

Animal, Spiritual and Cerebral

Mary Midgley, 18 August 1983

Animal Thought 
by Stephen Walker.
Routledge, 388 pp., £17.50, January 1983, 0 7100 9037 4
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On the Evolution of Human Behaviour 
by Peter Reynolds.
California, 259 pp., £20, December 1981, 0 520 04294 8
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The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit 
by Melvin Konner.
Heinemann, 436 pp., £16.50, October 1982, 0 434 39703 2
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Sociobiology and the Human Dimension 
by Georg Breuer.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £22.50, January 1983, 0 521 24544 3
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Sociobiology and the Pre-Emption of Social Science 
by Alexander Rosenberg.
Blackwell, 210 pp., £9.90, March 1981, 0 631 12625 2
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... of scientific parsimony. It was Lloyd Morgan’s canon of 1894, whose reasoning, as Stephen Walker points out, is extremely rum. It rules that ‘in no case may we interpret an action as the outcome of the exercise of a higher psychical faculty, if it can be interpreted as the exercise of one which stands lower on the psychological scale.’ ...

A Very Active Captain

Patrick Collinson: Henricentrism, 22 June 2006

The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church 
by G.W. Bernard.
Yale, 736 pp., £29.95, November 2005, 0 300 10908 3
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Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation 
by Greg Walker.
Oxford, 556 pp., £65, October 2005, 0 19 928333 8
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... palaces were equipped with wheelchairs and specially strengthened beds.) Three years ago, the Walker Gallery in Liverpool brought together in one room four of those giant Eworth/Holbein images (Trinity, Chatsworth, Petworth and their own), which glowered intimidatingly at each other from the four walls. Historians and biographers have never offered ...

At the Hayward

Peter Campbell: Alexander Rodchenko, 24 April 2008

... When Alexander Rodchenko began taking photographs in 1924 he was in his early thirties and already known as a painter of severe abstracts and maker of constructions and photomontages. He produced many of his most memorable photographs during his first few years with a camera: his wife, Varvara Stepanova, smiling with a cigarette gripped between her teeth; his mother, holding folded spectacles up to one eye; and several portraits of Mayakovsky ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele, 6 April 1995

‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... 1890s like an evening glove. So, too, did mid-Victorian Glasgow define the professional life of Alexander Thomson. Thomson (1817-75) grew up near to what was fast becoming Britain’s ‘Second City’. After 1800, Glasgow grew fat on the West Indian textile trade, diversifying during the 1830s into heavy industry. The disruptions that followed the start of ...

Lancastrian Spin

Simon Walker: Usurpation, 10 June 1999

England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 1399-1422 
by Paul Strohm.
Yale, 274 pp., £25, August 1998, 0 300 07544 8
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... that he well deserved to be king who knew how to conquer’ – some even compared him to Alexander the Great. The point they were making was a substantial one. Legitimacy was, as Henry did not scruple to make plain, determined by conquest as well as by blood, and the mandate of heaven had clearly been withdrawn from the hapless Richard. The ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... Kong or Kuala Lumpur – how would they know that you had moved, say, the tiny bottle of Johnnie Walker to where the tiny bottle of Smirnoff was standing? Like, thought Brian, would an alarm go off? He plucked a bottle of Budweiser. Nothing happened. The strange pathos of cold beer bottles in lonely hotel rooms! The bottle was shaped like a beautiful woman ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... and a ‘List of Major Works’. Frederick Karl offers up columns of elaborate notes. Marshall Walker supplies a ‘chronological table’ that correlates authors and titles with events (Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone the same year that Henry James published Roderick Hudson; Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems ...

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