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Making strange

John Sutherland

19 March 1981
Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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XPD 
by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... through the hands of less enthusiastic publishers has been recorded in various gossip columns. Anne Smith, editor of the Literary Review, is a canny publicist for herself and her journal. Now, at last, we have this already much-read work to review. The Magic Glass is transparently a version of the author’s childhood, some thirty years ago in Fife ...

One of the Cracked

Dinah Birch: Barbara Bodichon

1 October 1998
Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel 
by Pam Hirsch.
Chatto, 390 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 7011 6797 1
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... Like many forceful Victorian women, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon had a strong father and an obscure mother. Benjamin Smith, known in the family as ‘the Pater’, came from a formidable line of radical activists who had campaigned vigorously against the slave trade, and fostered projects for educational and political reform ...

Fame at last

Elaine Showalter

7 November 1991
Anne Sexton: A Biography 
by Diane Wood Middlebrook.
Virago, 488 pp., £20, November 1991, 1 85381 406 7
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... I met Anne Sexton six months before her suicide, in April 1974. My colleague Carol Smith and I were doing a series of interviews with women writers, and we had heard how Sexton and her friend Maxine Kumin had worked together for years, talking about their poems in long telephone sessions when neither of then could get out of the house ...

Attercliffe

Nicholas Spice

17 May 1984
Present Times 
by David Storey.
Cape, 270 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 224 02188 5
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The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle 
edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin.
Open University, 296 pp., £15, December 1982, 9780335101818
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The Hawthorn Goddess 
by Glyn Hughes.
Chatto, 232 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7011 2818 6
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... below, he chats to his fellow journalists: ‘the pug-nosed, the pug-eared Morgan’, Davidson-Smith (‘overcoated’, ‘deerstalker-hatted’) and Freddie Fredericks, Frank Attercliffe’s aging and alcoholic mentor, and co-author with him of Pindar’s Weekend Round-up, a sports column on the Northern Post. After the match, in the Buckingham ...

Never mind the neighbours

Margaret Anne Doody

4 April 1996
Delphine 
by Germaine de Staël, translated by Avriel Goldberger.
Northern Illinois, 468 pp., $50, September 1995, 0 87580 200 1
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... for a new sort of equality, also provoked demands for a new morality. It is these changes in manners and possibilities that de Staël explores in Delphine, a novel set in France in the Revolutionary period. It was the first of two novels by Anne Louise Germaine, Baronne de Staël-Holstein, née Necker. Published in 1802 ...
5 March 1981
The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... Who or Debrett (Henry VIII, 2nd s of Henry VII, qv, S 1509: m 1st, Catherine of Aragon; 2nd, Anne Boleyn; 3rd, Jane Seymour; 4th, Anne of Cleves; 5th, Catherine Howard; 6th, Catherine Parr etc). The authors have made their own compromise, which, as the price of retaining connected prose, offers a highly selective ...

Meltdown

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 ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës

16 November 2017
... a painted-over figure, presumably a self-portrait. The order is thought to be, from left to right, Anne, Emily, Charlotte. Hassall compiled her scene from different sources: Patrick’s profile, with his distinctive high neckerchief (worn, we are told, because of his fear of bronchitis), was copied from a photograph taken late in his life, when all his ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing

8 March 2001
... directed at the number of familiar names on the contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good reasons, too obvious to need ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Matrix

22 May 2003
... The first of the summer blockbusters is with us. For weeks, Carrie-Anne Moss has glowered beautifully from posters on the Underground, ‘21.05.03’, the release date of The Matrix Reloaded, stamped across her coat. Even cooler, a poster of incomprehensible green computer code resolves holographically into Keanu Reeves glowering beautifully as you walk past ...

Frocks and Shocks

Hilary Mantel: Jane Boleyn

24 April 2008
Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford 
by Julia Fox.
Phoenix, 398 pp., £9.99, March 2008, 978 0 7538 2386 6
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... opera, Jane Boleyn is more often known as Jane Rochford, wife of George Boleyn, sister-in-law to Anne the queen. There are some lives we read backwards, from bloody exit to obscure entrance, and Jane’s is one of them. She was beheaded in 1542, with Henry VIII’s fifth queen, Catherine Howard. She was one of Catherine’s ladies, and for reasons which ...

Going underground

Elaine Showalter

12 May 1994
The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Janet Malcolm.
Knopf, 208 pp., $23, April 1994, 0 679 43158 6
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... she publish big chunks of previously unpublished correspondence between Ted Hughes, Olwyn Hughes, Anne Stevenson and Al Alvarez? While she so vehemently condemns the motives of those who rifle the drawers of the dead, Malcolm is herself impelled to do the same, and it is this pull between its overt and covert narratives that makes The Silent Woman such a tour ...
3 April 1986
Katharine Hepburn: A Biography 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 395 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 340 33719 2
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... is drawing attention to the fact, of which he is well aware, that he has to behave in a different manner as writer, lover, man of the world, from what he feels in his private being. One such is Sonnet 111, ‘O for my sake do you with fortune chide,’ in which he refers to his occupation and its ‘public means, which public m...

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