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Jonathan Coe, 13 September 1990

Symposium 
by Muriel Spark.
Constable, 192 pp., £11.95, September 1990, 0 09 469660 8
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TheInn at the Edge of the World 
by Alice ThomasEllis.
Viking, 184 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780670832743
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... exasperating. They are dangerous terms because they tempt us to lump writers like Muriel Spark and Alice ThomasEllis together, especially when there are other alluring points of comparison, such as a characteristic tone which at first can seem no more than coolly ironic, and even – in these latest books – some ...

Womanism

Dinah Birch, 21 December 1989

The Temple of my Familiar 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 405 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5041 6
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The Fog Line 
by Carol Birch.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0453 9
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Home Life Four 
by Alice ThomasEllis.
Duckworth, 169 pp., £9.95, November 1989, 0 7156 2297 8
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TheFly in the Ointment 
by Alice ThomasEllis.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 9780715622964
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Words of Love 
by Philip Norman.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 241 12586 3
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... American black people describe their wildest girls as ‘womanish’. Alice Walker recalls that traditional usage in defining her own work: she is interested in ‘womanist’ rather than ‘feminist’ writing. ‘Womanist’ texts proclaim a double rebellion, fusing the long-suppressed anger of women with that of blacks ...

Pooh to London

Pat Rogers, 22 December 1983

The Other Side of the Fire 
by Alice ThomasEllis.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 7156 1809 1
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London Tales 
edited by Julian Evans.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 241 11123 4
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Londoners 
by Maureen Duffy.
Methuen, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 413 49350 4
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Good Friends, Just 
by Anne Leaton.
Chatto, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 7011 2710 4
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... Against the ruins of love and idealism, Alice ThomasEllis shores up the fragmentary consolations of art. Her books are beautifully fashioned, tailored, cut from superior cloth: you’re aware of the chunks from the fabric of experience that she has rejected, and her characters know just enough of the outside world not to be able to make sense of themselves ...

Women’s Fiction

Margaret Walters, 13 October 1988

The Beginning of Spring 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 187 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 00 223261 8
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A Wedding of Cousins 
by Emma Tennant.
Viking, 167 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 81502 0
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TheSkeleton in the Cupboard 
by Alice ThomasEllis.
Duckworth, 138 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 0 7156 2269 2
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... slight to carry Emma Tennant’s ambitious satiric investigation of a whole country in transition. Alice ThomasEllis’s new heroine runs true to type: she’s sardonic, occasionally malicious, with a snobbishness that hovers uncertainly between the material and spiritual worlds. But Mrs Monro in The Skeleton in the ...

Bound for the bad

Mary Beard, 14 September 1989

Loss of the Good Authority: The Cause of Delinquency 
by Tom Pitt-Aikens and Alice ThomasEllis.
Viking, 264 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 0 670 82493 3
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... Alice ThomasEllis has a delicate touch with her fictional delinquents. In The Birds of the Air, her second novel, Sam, the nearly criminal son of a respectable academic couple, reveals all those conflicting qualities that make the young offender so hard to deal with and to understand ...

Larks

Patricia Craig, 19 September 1985

But for Bunter 
by David Hughes.
Heinemann, 223 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 434 35410 4
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Bunter Sahib 
by Daniel Green.
Hodder, 272 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 340 36429 7
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The Good Terrorist 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 370 pp., £9.50, September 1985, 0 224 02323 3
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Unexplained Laughter 
by Alice ThomasEllis.
Duckworth, 155 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 7156 2070 3
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Polaris and Other Stories 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 237 pp., £8.95, August 1985, 0 340 33227 1
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... with the seriousness of purpose which ‘Jane Somers’ lacked. The good terrorist of the title is Alice Mellings, a renegade from the middle classes, whose talent for housekeeping benefits an appalling squat. We follow with interest the processes – initiated by Alice – of getting lavatories unblocked, electricity ...

’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1990

From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice ThomasEllis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... numinous landscapes, properly illustrating some aspects of the author’s moody, rambling text. Alice ThomasEllis, a Roman Catholic novelist, was brought up in Penmaenmawr, between Conwy and Bangor on the North Wales coast, facing the island of Anglesey. In one of her moods, she is inclined towards elegy for the ...

The Duckworth School of Writers

Frank Kermode, 20 November 1980

Human Voices 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 177 pp., £5.25, September 1980, 0 00 222280 9
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Winter Garden 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 157 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7156 1495 9
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... the first of them, which was published in 1906; the best, or at any rate the most interesting, is Alice-for-Short, which followed, in spite of its great length, only a year later. De Morgan lived to be 88 and wrote seven novels, as well as two more which were completed by another hand and published posthumously. They were mostly long books, and the first four ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice ThomasEllis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... Not long after Ezra Pound, the precocious Djuna Barnes arrived in Paris already equipped with a style derived from the Jacobean dramatists and French post-symbolist poets, and so with as good a claim as any to be counted among the founders of Modernism. In 1936 T. S. Eliot warmly sponsored Nightwood, and one has heard since that her vision of Hell can be traced as an influence in Nathanael West and Malcolm Lowry, and her sort of Gothic fantasy in John Hawkes ...

The Buffalo in the Hall

Susannah Clapp: Beryl Bainbridge, 5 January 2017

Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means, a Biography 
by Brendan King.
Bloomsbury, 564 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 1 4729 0853 7
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... and written by women. There was Caroline Blackwood, Helen Hodgman and Anna Haycraft, who wrote as Alice ThomasEllis. Their work had little to do with the great social explorations of Doris Lessing or with the ludic excavations of Angela Carter. Or with Philip Roth, Gabriel García Márquez or Kingsley Amis. What now ...

Darling, are you mad?

Jenny Diski: Ghost-writing for Naim Attallah, 4 November 2004

Ghosting 
by Jennie Erdal.
Canongate, 270 pp., £14.99, November 2004, 1 84195 562 0
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... Dante’; the Literary Review, ‘A sensitivity . . . unusual in a man’ (or was that code for Alice ThomasEllis having cottoned on?); the Oldie didn’t go for the sex much but spoke of Lorca and Pasolini sharing the same Mediterranean Catholic mind as Attallah.So another novel was called for. One novel, we ...

Leave off saying I want you to be savages

Sandra Gilbert: D.H. Lawrence, 19 March 1998

D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-30 
by David Ellis.
Cambridge, 814 pp., £25, January 1998, 0 521 25421 3
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... critical treatises, and even apart from his still oddly scandalous paintings at which, David Ellis reports, 13,000 visitors to London’s Warren Gallery gawked in the early summer of 1929, he was a figure of extraordinary fascination, even during his lifetime. Paradoxically, then, to contemplate works by the author of that famous critical maxim ‘Never ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005, 5 January 2006

... villainy. 16 March. To St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place for the funeral of Anna Haycraft (aka Alice ThomasEllis) who died a week or so ago in Wales and whose body had therefore to be brought down for the funeral and then presumably taken back to Wales to be buried beside Colin, her late husband, at their Welsh ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett, 29 July 1999

Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... and of course it meant a great deal to everybody,’ Gertrude Stein wrote in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, her story of ‘how two americans happened to be at the heart of an art movement of which the outside world at the time knew nothing’. The two Americans she had in mind, as so often, were Gertrude Stein and ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... like her most wanted; she answered, ‘Age and experience.’ I asked the next (Emily, afterwards Ellis Bell) what I had best do with her brother Branwell, who was sometimes a naughty boy; she answered, ‘Reason with him, and when he won’t listen to reason, whip him.’ I asked Branwell what was the best way of knowing the difference between the intellect ...

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