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You Have Never Written Better

Benjamin Markovits: Byron’s Editor, 20 March 2008

The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron 
edited by Andrew Nicholson.
Liverpool, 576 pp., £25, June 2007, 978 1 84631 069 0
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... unreliable both as a witness and as an agent. The story has ‘scarcely a word of truth’ in it, Andrew Nicholson says in his appendix to The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron. Letters from Dallas to Byron in the Murray archive make clear that he had not read Hints from Horace when he offered Childe Harold to Murray. Byron ‘gave’ Childe Harold to ...

The Biggest Rockets

Alex Ross: Gustav Mahler, 24 August 2000

Gustav Mahler. Vol. III. Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion (1904 to 1907) 
by Henry-Louis de La Grange.
Oxford, 1024 pp., £35, February 1999, 9780193151604
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The Mahler Companion 
edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson.
Oxford, 652 pp., £50, May 1999, 0 19 816376 2
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... In thirty or forty years,’ Gustav Mahler is said to have said, ‘Beethoven’s symphonies will no longer be played in concerts. My symphonies will take their place.’ The line comes from a dubious source – an ageing critic – but it is not out of character. Mahler, the most generous of megalomaniacs, often prophesied great things for his music, and, to judge from the programmes of recent seasons, his roll-over-Beethoven fantasy is coming true ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese, 16 November 2006

The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... poor. Actually, gangsters in movies are always giving things away to children and widows, as Jack Nicholson hands out groceries at the beginning of The Departed; but this is just one more expression of their unlimited reign. ‘Uneasy lies the crown,’ Nicholson says later in the movie, misquoting Shakespeare, probably on ...


Alan Hollinghurst, 18 February 1982

Sea to the West 
by Norman Nicholson.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1981, 0 571 11729 5
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Out for the Elements 
by Andrew Waterman.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, October 1981, 0 85635 377 9
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Between Here and Now 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 333 32186 3
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Poetry Introduction Five 
Faber, 121 pp., £5.25, January 1982, 0 571 11793 7Show More
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... itself as a disguise. What the wind blows away The wind blows back again is how Norman Nicholson ends a poem in his new collection, Sea to the West. The lines are perhaps low on witty morality, but their power is the greater for that: coming at the end of a description of weather over Black Combe (a recurrent point de repère of the book), they are ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Eleanor Birne: The Reopening, 22 March 2018

... many visitors – along with artist friends from closer to home, particularly Ben and Winifred Nicholson. In 1956, the Edes returned to England and Jim started looking for a suitable building. He wanted to buy a former stately home but didn’t have the money. Eventually, he found four small condemned slum cottages in the north of Cambridge. With the help ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Rich List, 15 June 2023

... pub, ‘How would you spend it?’ is much more common than ‘Who are you voting for?’ Viv Nicholson, whose husband won the football pools in 1961 and who told the press she would ‘spend, spend, spend’ (she later served as the cover star of the Smiths’ single ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’), is the presiding spirit. Viv struggled, but the ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: How to Draw Horses, 9 October 2003

... Etruscan bronze – are by five-year-olds, the triplets Hepworth had with her second husband, Ben Nicholson. Skeaping is a Modernist in his sympathies and wants to release his readers from the feeling that there is one proper way to show how things look. But his book is all about the pleasure to be had from drawing properly – not from being able to draw how ...

At Piano Nobile

Eleanor Birne: Jean Cooke, 18 April 2019

... in the glowing yellow of her skin, the inclination of her head. There’s a hint of Winifred Nicholson’s delicate prettiness about the flowers and colours and light in some of her still lifes. But she escapes that decorative sort of influence, as she eventually escaped Bratby’s. Consider Up the Road and Pigeon Die (1964), a painting of lilies in ...


Evan Kindley: Modernist Magazines, 23 January 2014

The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 976 pp., £35, May 2013, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume II: North America 1894-1960 
edited by Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker.
Oxford, 1088 pp., £140, July 2012, 978 0 19 965429 1
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The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume III: Europe 1880-1940 
edited by Peter Brooker, Sascha Bru, Andrew Thacker and Christian Weikop.
Oxford, 1471690 pp., £145, March 2013, 978 0 19 965958 6
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... volume of their Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker point out that the nine-year run of the Dial alone amounts to ‘around 10,500 pages of text and 1200 pages of adverts, assuming an average of 300 words per page; this equals some 3.1 million words to read … about equivalent to reading 21 books ...

Abolish everything!

Andrew Hussey: Situationist International, 2 September 1999

The Situationist City 
by Simon Sadler.
MIT, 248 pp., £24.95, March 1998, 0 262 19392 2
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... world imagine. In his introduction to a new translation of Jappe’s book by Donald Nicholson-Smith, Clark speaks of Debord as a thinker who engaged with the future as well as the present and whose time is yet to come.* The Situationist City also seeks to make connections between Situationist ideas and developments in mainstream ...

Lost Boys

Andrew O’Hagan, 8 June 1995

... of their power. They stood for pain. The stone on my other side was in memory of ‘Frank Cyril Nicholson, who died January 13th 1897, aged 14 years’. It was a cool day, very quiet at times, then some horn or deep engine on the dual carriageway would break in. Frank Cyril died after 14 years; died, it seems, of natural causes. His death must have been ...

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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... Terence Stamp, Shelagh Delaney, Pat Phoenix, Truman Capote, Candy Darling, Alain Delon, Viv Nicholson, Jean Marais, James Dean – and his songs are glittering with cribs from everything he ever loved, from A Taste of Honey, from Elizabeth Smart, from Karel Reisz’s films, everything, including (especially) the Kitchen Sink, jokes nipped from Oscar ...

‘Très vrai!’

Leah Price, 18 October 2001

Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books 
by H.J. Jackson.
Yale, 324 pp., £19.95, April 2001, 0 300 08816 7
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... of Johnson as her prime exhibit of a book that invites annotation, the late 19th-century writer Andrew Lang noticed that the pages of Boswell were uncut in one public library he visited while ‘the greasiest and most bescribbled tome in the collection’ was a Gothic romance by Ann Radcliffe. The two scenes Jackson herself cites from the Brontës both ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... often father figures, which might explain why our affection is steeped in half-dislike. In U & I, Nicholson Baker’s hilarious account of his admiration for John Updike, you get the sense that the older writer’s style is so bossy the novice has to take only those parts which will help him establish a rival camp. The same could be said of Mailer’s ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... seen in an examination of two sections dealing with overtly political writings. Nicholas Canny and Andrew Carpenter introduce ‘The Early Planters: Spenser and his Contemporaries’ by reaffirming Spenser’s status as a great poet in the English tradition, and then by redescribing him as an ‘apologist’ for English rule in Ireland, someone whose writing ...

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