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Collect your divvies

Ferdinand Mount: Safe as the Bank of England, 15 June 2023

Virtuous Bankers: A Day in the Life of the 18th-Century Bank of England 
by Anne Murphy.
Princeton, 275 pp., £30, May, 978 0 691 19474 5
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... to reinforce the reputation of ‘the Palladium of public credit’. It is at this point that Anne Murphy takes her bird’s eye view of a day in the life of the bank. In her acknowledgments she expresses some apprehension about having plumped for this approach, but she need not have worried. This is a model of economic history, acute, profound and ...

Squidging about

Caroline Murphy: Camilla and the sex-motherers, 22 January 2004

Camilla: An Intimate Portrait 
by Rebecca Tyrrel.
Short Books, 244 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 904095 53 4
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... but Camilla was ‘desperate to marry him’. In 1970 Andrew took up with the 19-year-old Princess Anne: Tyrrel borrows from another royal biographer, Christopher Wilson, the speculation that ‘it was to Andrew’ that Anne ‘surrendered her virginity’. It wasn’t that Camilla was worried he might marry ...


Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... end it makes me think that the body was governing the mind. The rehearsal of all this is painful. Anne Stevenson, against the odds, has written a decent and intelligent book. It is certainly the best book on Sylvia Plath so far – and it isn’t graceless to point out that most of the earlier books have been conspicuously unsatisfactory. But Bitter Fame ...

Antigone in Galway

Anne Enright, 17 December 2015

... Creon’s edict and bury the corpse. And so she does. When asked to deny the crime, she says, in Anne Carson’s 2012 translation of Sophocles: ‘I did the deed I do not deny it.’ She does not seek to justify her actions within the terms of Creon’s law: she negates the law by handing it back to him, intact – ‘If you call that law.’ Antigone later ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Embedded in Iraq, 29 November 2007

... part of the story for reporters faced with the daily round of bombings and shootings, though Anne Garrels of National Public Radio says about the post-invasion looting: ‘people … will forever remember that virtually the only building … that was protected was the Oil Ministry.’ Garrels also explored the mysteries of the Green Zone when she ...


Alison Light: In Portsmouth, 7 February 2008

... thinks the new rules are driven as much by fear of litigation as human rights. Her hairdresser, Anne, is no longer supposed to help her elderly customers off with their coats or position them under the dryer. She might accidentally break a brittle bone and find herself being sued. Portsmouth used to have three general hospitals: the Royal, near the ...

Women beware men

Margaret Anne Doody, 23 July 1992

Backlash: The Undeclared War against Women 
by Susan Faludi.
Chatto, 592 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 7011 4643 5
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The War against Women 
by Marilyn French.
Hamish Hamilton, 229 pp., £9.99, March 1992, 0 241 13271 1
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... of both of these books) by Vice-President Dan Quayle’s announced upset over an episode of Murphy Brown, a television programme in which a single woman in her thirties found herself pregnant, decided to have her baby – and did so. Searching for someone or something to blame for the current state of the United States (including the recent LA ...

An Outline of Outlines

Graham Hough, 7 May 1981

... 14 May 1752: ‘In his own time Timothy Dwight was a figure of towering significance.’ Arthur Murphy, born in Clomquin, Roscommon, 27 December 1727: his comedy The Upholsterer was produced in 1758, Alzuma in 1773. And while we are on the drama, let us remember James Robinson Planché, born in Piccadilly, London on 27 February 1796, who is part of the ...

Clutching at Railings

Jonathan Coe: Late Flann O’Brien, 24 October 2013

Plays and Teleplays 
by Flann O’Brien, edited by Daniel Keith Jernigan.
Dalkey, 434 pp., £9.50, September 2013, 978 1 56478 890 0
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The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien 
edited by Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper.
Dalkey, 158 pp., £9.50, August 2013, 978 1 56478 889 4
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... reader there were only two books around that helped to explain what O’Brien was about: Anne Clissmann’s Flann O’Brien: A Critical Introduction to his Writings and Myles, Timothy O’Keeffe’s collection of anecdotal essays by various hands. Today, however, we inhabit a new age. The age of? Information. Indeed, from what do we sometimes ...


Louise Foxcroft: W.B. Yeats and her great-uncle, 7 September 2000

... at Marseille reported that the casket had been collected on 6 September in the presence of Sean Murphy, the Irish Government’s representative in Paris, M. Haag, prefect of the Alpes Maritimes, and a detachment of French troops. The next report says that the remains were interred on 17 September in Drumcliffe Churchyard after first lying in state at Sligo ...

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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... the Northern women writers such as Charlotte Elizabeth, Amanda McKittrick Ros, Frances Browne and Anne Crone, whose varieties of Unionism and feminism would have been intriguingly disruptive of the meta-narrative. Northern writing is otherwise well-represented. Tom Paulin edits a section on ‘Northern Protestant Oratory and Writing 1791-1985’, which ...

Bear, Bat, or Tiny King?

Deborah Friedell: The Rorschach Test, 2 November 2017

The Inkblots 
by Damion Searls.
Simon and Schuster, 406 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 4711 3041 0
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... agree to do it if you’re in the middle of a divorce. In The Cult of Personality (2004), Annie Murphy Paul looks at the long list of ineffective personality tests that followed the Rorschach: ‘The cycle, repeated endlessly, goes like this: psychologists devise a novel way of assessing personality and boldly declare it a key to human nature. The method is ...

A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?, 20 February 2003

Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... forward and look round me at him, smile to herself and sit back again.’ When George’s daughter Anne was born in 1919 and son Michael in 1921, the sisters became enthusiastic babysitters and general chroniclers of their brother’s household. ‘I think George enjoys the thrill she gets when she gives her name in shops,’ Lolly wrote. ‘Mrs ...

With or without the ANC

Heribert Adam, 13 June 1991

The Unbreakable Thread: Non-Racialism in South Africa 
by Julie Frederikse.
Indiana, 304 pp., $39.95, November 1990, 0 253 32473 4
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A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society 
by David Horowitz.
California, 293 pp., $24.95, March 1991, 0 520 07342 8
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Koexistenz im Krieg: Staatszerfall und Entstehung einer Nation im Libanon 
by Theodor Hanf.
Nomos Verlag, 806 pp., September 1990, 3 7890 1972 0
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... of all the oppressed’ and a liberal tradition of 19th century British missionary culture. Jo-Anne Collinge, a journalist on the Johannesburg Weekly Mail, has criticised the book for ‘the blandness which results from faithfulness to the idea of letting participants tell the story’. This is a polite way of saying that the author has failed to provide a ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... Post Office and measure the height of the ground to Cúchulainn’s arse’, as Neary in his novel Murphy wished to engage with the arse of the statue of Cúchulainn, the ancient Irish hero, patron saint of pure ignorance and crass violence, by banging his head against it. The need to buy a stamp or a TV licence or fill in a form is often too pressing, the ...

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