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Michael Davie, 6 June 1985

The Airman and the Carpenter: The Lindbergh Case and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 438 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 00 217060 4
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... hundred-odd reporters present, besides Mencken, were Damon Runyon, Ford Madox Ford, Edna Ferber, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Walter Winchell and Joseph Alsop, who was required to write no less than ten thousand words a day for the Herald Tribune. Celebrities who dropped by included Ginger Rogers, Moss Hart, Lynn Fontanne, Jack Dempsey, Robert ...

At the V&A

Marina Warner: Alexander McQueen, 4 June 2015

... seems to have vanished along with aspidistras and parlours, but the concept hasn’t: Alexander McQueen’s designs, spectacularly displayed at the V&A in Savage Beauty (until 2 August), changed the way you walked, and not just because you were raised up on jewelled chopines like a Venetian courtesan in a period of acqua alta, or forced to balance ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... the boxer in the boardroom. (A high-profile exemplar of this style was the magnate, George Walker; once, according to James Morton, an ‘ally’ of Billy Hill and Eddie Chapman, later a frequently puffed adornment of the Thatcherite open market culture.) There is nothing new in the concept, quality tailoring bonded over primal naughtiness. It has been ...

Doomed to Sincerity

Germaine Greer: Rochester as New Man, 16 September 1999

The Works of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Harold Love.
Oxford, 712 pp., £95, April 1999, 0 19 818367 4
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... Rochester’; 75 of his attributions and usually his choices of copy-text were accepted by Keith Walker for his edition for Blackwell’s in 1984; to the 75 Walker added six new attributions. Frank Ellis rejects one poem accepted by both Vieth and Walker as by Rochester, together with ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... clue was found,’ he went on. ‘My style is from the Covenanting writers.’ He meant Wodrow, Walker and Shields, and you are excused from the sin of never having heard of them. It is good to be reminded by Jenni Calder’s interesting study that Stevenson was, among others, ‘the Shorter Catechist of Vailima’ in the South Seas. ‘Scott’s hopeless ...

‘If I Could Only Draw Like That’

P.N. Furbank, 24 November 1994

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies 
by James McNeill Whistler.
Heinemann, 338 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 434 20166 9
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James McNeill Whistler: Beyond the Myth 
by Ronald Anderson and Anne Koval.
Murray, 544 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 7195 5027 0
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... thought should be in the air; an aroma of the personality.’ This is certainly true of his Cicely Alexander and Carlyle portraits, and one is astonished that Roger Fry could have said that his painting ‘lacked humanity’ and could see no more than pure abstract design in the mountainous and disturbing outline of the overcoat and hat in the Carlyle. Where ...

At the Venice Biennale

Alice Spawls: All the World’s Futures, 18 June 2015

... included in the recent Tate Modern retrospective), Jeremy Deller’s 19th-century broadsides and Walker Evans’s Depression-era photographs. Alexander Kluge’s installation for three projectors addresses Marx – and Eisenstein – head on, in a series of interviews and short clips with titles like ‘Lament of the ...


James Wood: The ‘TLS’, 27 June 2002

Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... not create literature. Moby-Dick already existed by the time the reviewers came down on it. Like Alexander the Great blocking the sunlight while standing next to Diogenes in his tub, reviewing can only hinder what it has not made. I suspect that May knows this, if only because his book is a melancholy record of lost opportunities: The Rainbow and The Good ...

All the Necessary Attributes

Stephen Walsh: Franz Liszt, Celebrity, 22 September 2016

Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 353 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 300 18293 4
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... account of Liszt’s death in Bayreuth in 1886 is well told and moving, but adds little to Alan Walker’s account in his great three-volume biography, which made full use of the then unpublished diary of Liszt’s pupil and unofficial carer Lina Schmalhausen. Liszt had returned to Bayreuth at Cosima’s request for that year’s festival, but arrived with ...

A Man with My Trouble

Colm Tóibín: Henry James leaves home, 3 January 2008

The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume I 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 391 pp., £57, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2584 8
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The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855-72: Volume II 
edited by Pierre Walker and Greg Zacharias.
Nebraska, 524 pp., £60, January 2007, 978 0 8032 2607 4
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... letters than when he was younger. The executorship of the James papers had been passed from Alexander R. James to his daughter, Bay James, following Alexander James’s death. Whereas some of her predecessors, at times at Edel’s urging, had limited full access to and publication permission for Henry James’s ...

Alan Bennett chooses four paintings for schools

Alan Bennett: Studying the Form, 2 April 1998

... seem, in view of its much more spectacular neighbours like Veronese’s Family of Darius before Alexander or Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, to be a dull choice. Indeed this rather intimate picture is an exception for Bassano himself, who produced much more spectacular paintings, one of which, a tumultuous Nativity in the National Gallery of Scotland, at ...

From Progress to Catastrophe

Perry Anderson: The Historical Novel, 28 July 2011

... of the passage of historical time: that is, of any disconcerting contrast between the epoch of Alexander I, in which it is set, and of Alexander II, in which it was written. At most, the use of French among aristocrats acts as a generic signifier of difference. Otherwise, we are in a kind of continuous present, a more or ...

Field of Bones

Charles Nicholl: The last journey of Thomas Coryate, the English fakir and legstretcher, 2 September 1999

... himself as a ‘legstretcher’; he also styled himself a ‘Propatetique’, in other words ‘a walker forward on feete’ (as opposed to a ‘peripatetic’ who merely walks around). Both these reputations, the comic and the adventurer, were diligently cultivated by Coryate – he was a great self-publicist – and both are expressed in his best-known ...

A Walk with Kierkegaard

Roger Poole, 21 February 1980

Two Ages: The Age of Revolution and the Present Age– A Literary Review 
by Søren Kierkegaard, edited and translated by Howard Hong and Edna Hong.
Princeton, 187 pp., £7.70, August 1978, 0 691 07226 4
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Kierkegaard: Letters and Documents 
translated by Henrik Rosenmeier.
Princeton, 518 pp., £13.60, November 1978, 0 691 07228 0
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... the man of the world, the early McLuhan of the media, the ‘family’ man, the professional walker, the Socratic, debonair correspondent who emerges from Letters and Documents. This volume makes fascinating reading, and anyone interested in Kierkegaard the man will find it impossible to put down. This is not only the first good translation of a certain ...

At the White House’s Whim

Tom Bingham: The Power of Pardon, 26 March 2009

... Among the applicants, it is reported, were Conrad Black; Michael Milken, of junk bond fame; John Walker Lindh, the ‘American Taliban’; a former Republican congressman jailed for accepting bribes; and a former Democratic governor of Louisiana, convicted on racketeering charges. They were doomed to disappointment. But just before Christmas 2008, the ...

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