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The Importance of Being Ernie

Ferdinand Mount, 5 November 2020

Ernest Bevin: Labour’s Churchill 
by Andrew Adonis.
Biteback, 352 pp., £20, July, 978 1 78590 598 8
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... but now I think, emphatically, that he was right. In fact, it isn’t possible to come away from Andrew Adonis’s crisp and affectionate Life with any other impression. Adonis is naturally more light-footed than Alan Bullock was in his three-volume masterwork on Bevin (Bullock only allotted Hitler a single, though ...

Our Guy

John Barnie: Blair’s Style, 20 January 2011

... blokes of whom he approves. Bill Clinton is ‘a great guy’, as is the Taoiseach John Bruton. Andrew Smith is ‘a nice guy’, and so is Guy Verhofstadt; Andrew Adonis is ‘a thoroughly nice guy’. John Hutton is also ‘a thoroughly nice guy’, while the footmen at Balmoral are ‘very nice guys’. The ...

What’s the point of HS2?

Christian Wolmar, 17 April 2014

... would be reached in much the same time as the present two and a quarter hours). At the time, Andrew Adonis was the number two transport minister. A long-time devotee of the railways, having joined the Cotswold Line Promotion Group as a teenager in the 1980s, he began pushing for Labour to support a new north-south line. Geoff Hoon, the transport ...


David Runciman: How the coalition was formed, 16 December 2010

22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition 
by David Laws.
Biteback, 335 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84954 080 3
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... could thrash out a deal. On the Labour side, Laws’s old friend (and a former Liberal Democrat) Andrew Adonis was still keen to explore the options but the rest of them just didn’t seem that interested. Peter Mandelson was detached (‘Surely the rich have suffered enough,’ he says at one point, when Laws tries to find some common ground on ...

They like it there

Ian Aitken, 5 August 1993

Making Aristocracy Work: The Peerage and the Political System in Britain 1884-1914 
by Andrew Adonis.
Oxford, 311 pp., £35, May 1993, 0 19 820389 6
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The House of Lords at Work: A Study Based on the 1988-89 Session 
edited by Donald Shell and David Beamish.
Oxford, 420 pp., £45, March 1993, 0 19 827762 8
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... itself. All these intriguing details, and many more of a similar nature, are squirrelled away in Andrew Adonis’s extraordinary lumber-room of a book. My first visit to the Other Place, some thirty years ago, remains a vivid memory because the conditions were so similar to those described by Adonis. After recovering ...

An Element of Unfairness

Ross McKibbin: The Great Education Disaster, 3 July 2008

... and independence from the LEAs, were a precedent, but it seems to have been the influence of Andrew Adonis on Blair that drove the academies forward. Adonis, who is now a minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and was previously in Blair’s Policy Unit, has no roots in the labour movement ...

A Regular Grey

Jonathan Parry, 3 December 2020

Statesman of Europe: a Life of Sir Edward Grey 
by T.G. Otte.
Allen Lane, 858 pp., £35, November, 978 0 241 41336 4
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... an excess of journalistic moralism, one finds both arguments at the same time, as in a review by Andrew Adonis with which Otte has some sport.This book, then, is a reading for our times. It is a defence of Grey’s self-contained realism, tempered by regret at his failure to communicate his policy. It is a critique of his critics’ fantasies of British ...

Preacher on a Tank

David Runciman: Blair Drills Down, 7 October 2010

A Journey 
by Tony Blair.
Hutchinson, 718 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 09 192555 0
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... an ‘orderly transition’. Blair is therefore deeply impressed by a letter he gets from Andrew Adonis, setting his predicament in historical context. 1. There are no ‘dignified exits’ and ‘orderly transitions’ – just exits and transitions, all more or less ragged and unsatisfactory. That’s life, I suppose. 2. The more successful ...

Le Roi Jean Quinze

Stefan Collini: Roy Jenkins and Labour, 5 June 2014

Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, March 2014, 978 0 224 08750 6
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... without reservation’. In addition, this is the authorised biography (a task first assigned to Andrew Adonis and then handed on), written with the full collaboration of Jennifer Jenkins. Although Campbell is too intelligent a writer to be content with any kind of hagiography and too well informed about recent British politics not to recognise ...

Nasty Lucky Genes

Andrew O’Hagan: Fathers and Sons, 21 September 2006

The Arms of the Infinite 
by Christopher Barker.
Pomona, 329 pp., £9.99, August 2006, 1 904590 04 7
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... to be stamped so obviously with femininity, and liable to humiliation worse than Venus’ with Adonis, purely by reason of my accidental but flaunting sex. These are twisted feelings – with a prose that can do the twist – but Smart’s honesty radiates upwards. All that one can say is that parents engaged in such a danse macabre can have a lovely and ...


Andrew Gurr, 6 February 1986

Forms of Attention 
by Frank Kermode.
Chicago, 93 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 226 43168 1
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Shakespeare: A Writer’s Progress 
by Philip Edwards.
Oxford, 204 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 219184 5
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Shakespeare’s Lost Play: ‘Edmund Ironside’ 
edited by Eric Sams.
Fourth Estate, 383 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 947795 95 2
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Such is my love: A Study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets 
by Joseph Pequigney.
Chicago, 249 pp., £16.95, October 1985, 0 226 65563 6
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Shakespeare Survey 38: An Annual Survey of Shakespearian Study and Production 
edited by Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 521 32026 7
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The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama 
by Catherine Belsey.
Methuen, 253 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 416 32700 1
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... I die?’ does have a not far from Shakespearean ring to it: nothing like “Venus and Adonis’, but very likely from the same belfry as ‘A Lover’s Complaint’. But Taylor does not spend time interpreting the poem. He uses internal evidence as fact, and rather dubiously. By modernising the text, for instance, he alters some of the facts and ...

Bon Garçon

David Coward: La Fontaine’s fables, 7 February 2002

Complete Tales in Verse 
by Jean de La Fontaine, translated by Guido Waldman.
Carcanet, 334 pp., £14.95, October 2000, 9781857544824
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The Fables of La Fontaine: Wisdom Brought down to Earth 
by Andrew Calder.
Droz, 234 pp., £36.95, September 2001, 2 600 00464 5
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The Craft of La Fontaine 
by Maya Slater.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 255 pp., $43.50, May 2001, 0 8386 3920 8
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... which was too literary for performance, and a clutch of poems; the lyrical, mythological Adonis was rewarded by Fouquet, the young King’s guardian and First Minister. La Fontaine had found not only a patron but someone to admire. Fouquet was a grasshopper (his successor, Colbert, was the ant): he was a man who knew how to enjoy his power and vast ...

Howard’s End

John Sutherland, 18 September 1986

by Howard Jacobson.
Bantam, 314 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 593 01212 7
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Coming from behind 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 250 pp., £2.95, April 1984, 0 552 99063 9
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Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Black Swan, 351 pp., £2.95, October 1985, 0 552 99141 4
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... poem as well as Joyce’s novel), The Rape of the Lock (Pope’s), Venus and Adonis (anyone’s), Leviathan (it sounded like Decameron) and Self-Help by Samuel Smiles’. He also devises a literary test for immigrants comprising the opening lines of Piers Plowman. ‘You’d be surprised,’ he observes, ‘how many Indo-Chinese don’t ...

Hoarder of Malt

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare, 7 January 1999

Shakespeare: A Life 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 479 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 19 811792 2
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £11.99, December 1998, 0 7190 5425 7
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... Bearman’s Shakespeare in the Stratford Records, 1994) but by the work of Peter Thomson and Andrew Gurr on the fortunes of Elizabethan acting companies, or of Douglas Bruster on Troilus and Cressida and the language of Jacobean economics, or of R.A. Foakes and Stephen Greenblatt on the contexts of King Lear. This is one biography which doesn’t forget ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... history was the publication of Shakespeare’s first printed work, the narrative poem Venus and Adonis, in 1593. Shakespeare’s earliest stage comedies are full of young men on the move, eager for new horizons. The Two Gentlemen of Verona opens with Valentine preparing to leave Verona, and chiding his stay-at-home friend Proteus for being ...

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