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Into Council Care

John Bayley, 6 July 1995

Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel 
by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle.
Macmillan, 208 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 333 60760 0
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... in Macmillan’s ‘Women Writers’ series (1990). It is written from a feminist angle, whereas Bennett and Royle are theorists who have found in Bowen, perhaps rather surprisingly, an opportunity for what they call a ‘new kind of literary critical writing’ in which the critics will take ‘her personal experience, imagination and feelings’ away from ...

Miss Skippit

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 February 2021

... amusement has always been there, a crucial element in a career of giving life to arguments. Alan Bennett, a friend of hers since Oxford, gives an account of a posh dinner she once attended with her then fiancé, Tim Binyon. A flunkey at the door asked for their names so that he could announce them. ‘Paralysed with shyness,’ ...

Notes on the Election

David Runciman: Power v. Power, 9 April 2015

... job is to put politicians on the spot and try to catch them out. They all have their own style. Andrew Marr’s Sunday show regularly ensnares the big beasts. Marr is courteous, intelligent and always sniffing out hypocrisy. How exactly are you any better, is the question behind most of his questions. Evan Davis on Newsnight is even more courteous and if ...

Lukashenko’s Way

Jonathan Steele, 27 September 2012

Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship 
by Andrew Wilson.
Yale, 304 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 300 13435 3
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The Last Dictatorship in Europe: Belarus under Lukashenko 
by Brian Bennett.
Hurst, 358 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 1 84904 167 6
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... and travel sanctions, then moved to cautious engagement: neither strategy made an impact. Andrew Wilson is more dispassionate than Brian Bennett, who was the UK ambassador in Minsk between 2003 and 2007 and remains angry at what he saw. Wilson devotes the first half of his book to an analysis of Belarusian history ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey, 4 March 2004

Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... films, everything, including (especially) the Kitchen Sink, jokes nipped from Oscar Wilde, Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood. He loved to do versions of his favourite songs by Twinkle and Cilla Black and even by brand new bands (like the Manchester outfit James) who barely had any fans yet. He so yearned to be his favourite movie star that he wrote a book ...


Christopher Tayler: Multofiction, 8 January 2004

Set This House in Order 
by Matt Ruff.
Flamingo, 496 pp., £12, October 2003, 0 00 716423 8
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... views attributed to Dr Minor aren’t confined to a few West Coast fruitcakes, as Ruff implies. Bennett Braun, a leading figure from the early days of MPD, had his licence suspended when a patient claimed he’d convinced her she had 300 alters – one of them a busy cannibal, another a satanic priestess. In the fundamentalist hinterland, some therapists ...

The Thief and the Trousers

Owen Bennett-Jones: John Stonehouse disappears, 21 April 2022

Stonehouse: Cabinet Minister, Fraudster, Spy 
by Julian Hayes.
Robinson, 384 pp., £25, July 2021, 978 1 4721 4654 0
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John Stonehouse, My Father: The True Story of the Runaway MP 
by Julia Stonehouse.
Icon, 384 pp., £10.99, May, 978 1 78578 819 2
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... was an agent lured by money. In his authorised history of MI5, published in 2009, Christopher Andrew concluded that Stonehouse had indeed spied for the Czechoslovaks, becoming ‘the only British politician (so far as is known) to have acted as a foreign agent while holding ministerial office’. Julian Hayes, Stonehouse’s great nephew, has also ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... men who were Apostles, which of them were homosexuals and so on, Cornish dodgily assuming, as did Andrew Boyle and John Costello before him, that homosexuality is itself a bond and that if two men can be shown to be homosexual the likelihood is that they’re sleeping together. So we trail down that road looking for cliques and coteries with even ...

The Demented Dalek

Richard J. Evans: Michael Gove, 12 September 2019

Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry 
by Owen Bennett.
Biteback, 422 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... contributing to a proper historical debate.’ Actually – and Gove’s new biographer Owen Bennett might have pointed this out – all I’d said was that with tsarist Russia as Britain’s major ally, with 40 per cent of British adult males denied the vote until the Reform Act of 1918, and with a German enemy that might not have been wholly democratic ...


Andrew O’Hagan: A City of Prose, 4 August 2005

... continuing triumph of the market, but its failure.’ And it was into those same rooms that Ronan Bennett came with one of the longest pieces ever published in a single issue of this paper, a report on the civil and legal injustices perpetrated by the state in its desperate pursuit of those guilty of the Guildford bombings. Argument in the long run is louder ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese, 16 November 2006

The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.’ Then the music and titles come up, with Tony Bennett singing ‘From Rags to Riches’. Scorsese’s gangster myth is not different from anyone else’s, but his take on it is. There is no 1930s grandeur in his crime movies, and no family friendliness as in the Godfather films. No one suffers like Michael ...

Short Cuts

Amjad Iraqi: Anti-BDS Law, 19 July 2018

... Wisconsin and New York have already issued such orders. After signing his, in June 2016, Andrew Cuomo declared in the Washington Post: ‘If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.’ It isn’t just that those who participate in or help enable boycotts are boycotted themselves, or criminalised; people with no connection to activism are also ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004, 6 January 2005

... to play Scripps the religious boy, and doesn’t even bother to mention that he plays the piano; Andrew Knott from Wakefield, who comes in like the wind has blown the door open and knows the scene off by heart, as do several of the others. This is new, as actors would normally expect to read the scene and if they are bad readers, as many actors are, this ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 8 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... words, ‘politically tone-deaf’ is a ranging inclusivity in his social relations: John Dryden, Andrew Marvell, Edmund Waller, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, John Milton, Wenceslaus Hollar. As Kate Bennett writes in the introduction to her superb new edition of Brief Lives, ‘we may be able to hear, through him, the 17th ...


Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... you will be delighted to know that a pub in the Yorkshire town of Otley is to be renamed the Alan Bennett in your honour in order to celebrate Yorkshire Day.’ Fortunately this bizarre baptism is only for a month; were it longer I fear it would soon be reflected in the takings. The body responsible for this kindly gesture is the Otley Pub Club, which ...

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