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25 October 1990
No Other Choice 
by George Blake.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 224 03067 1
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Inside Intelligence 
by Anthony Cavendish.
Collins, 181 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 9780002157421
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... Here are two more spy books from authors who worked long ago for British Intelligence. George Blake was very left-wing, and is now slightly less so. AnthonyCavendish has always been very right-wing. Both authors write of their profound respect for one of their former bosses, George K. Young. Young, who died recently, was deputy head of MI6 until he joined the ...


Paul Foot

2 March 1989
The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... old aircraft to the Russians, were more than once sabotaged by MI5. The young intelligence heroes of the time had mostly been in active service in colonial wars, notably in Palestine. Harry Wharton, AnthonyCavendish, Maurice Oldfield, the arch-racialist George Kennedy Young – all these were in MI5 or MI6 either during or after the war. All of them shared the deeply reactionary ideas which had ...

Happy Knack

Ian Sansom: Betjeman

20 February 2003
John Betjeman: New Fame, New Love 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 736 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 7195 5002 5
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... are nice little phrases like ‘smitten’, or ‘fell in love with’, which is all very fine and noble – admirable even – except perhaps in the case of Betjeman’s relationship with Elizabeth Cavendish, a woman with whom he shared much of his later life, and about whom Hillier tells us very little. Betjeman and Cavendish met in 1951 at a dinner party; he was 45 and she was 25. Cavendish was the ...


Christopher Andrew

22 January 1987
Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony​ Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... The real intellectual élite in inter-war Cambridge, he reminds us, were not the moles or their contemporaries (mostly from the arts faculties) in the Apostles but the brilliant scientists at the Cavendish Laboratory. Even the Kremlin, Sinclair argues, learned more from Cambridge physicists than from Cambridge moles. The key figure in the flow of Cambridge atomic physics to the Kremlin was, he believes ...

Horror like Thunder

Germaine Greer: Lucy Hutchinson

21 June 2001
Order and Disorder 
by Lucy Hutchinson, edited by David Norbrook.
Blackwell, 272 pp., £55, January 2001, 0 631 22061 5
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... safety did estrange, Brought universal woe and discord in, The never-failing consequents of sin; Not only made all things without them jar But in their breasts raised up a civil war. According to Anthony à Wood’s Athenae Oxonienses, and Sidney Lee who follows Wood in the DNB, Order and Disorder is the work of Sir Allen Apsley (1616-83). The poem described by Lee as ‘rarely accessible’, now ...

Pick the small ones

Marina Warner: Girls Are Rubbish

17 February 2005
Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from around the World 
by Mineke Schipper.
Yale, 422 pp., £35, April 2004, 0 300 10249 6
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... cultural system or literary lineage. Maxims from ancient Sumer, found on clay tablets near Baghdad in 1963, jostle Ghanaian proverbs collected by Schipper from Peggy Appiah and her son Kwame Anthony Appiah; Persian mottoes are lined up beside Brazilian, Finnish, Irish and Creole ones, as well as numerous examples from different African regions and groupings. Schipper stoutly defends her method ...
20 January 2000
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence and Douglas Cooper 
by John Richardson.
Cape, 320 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 224 05056 7
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... which belonged to ... Rory Cameron and his mother, Enid, Countess of Kenmare, the dazzling Australian adventuress who had married and supposedly murdered Mabel Cooper’s first cousin “Caviar” Cavendish’. He is careful to note that life at this social altitude could be dangerous for ordinary folk. He is also keen to let us know that he sometimes felt ‘overdosed’ by great art and was relieved ...
24 November 1988
Macmillan 1894-1956 
by Alistair Horne.
Macmillan, 537 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 27691 4
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... the phrase ‘not a very good Tory’ clearly meant different things to biographer and subject. Macmillan’s rival, Rab Butler, chose a biographer from outside his own party, but his and Anthony Howard’s political outlooks may have been closer to each other than Mr Horne’s and Macmillan’s ‘not very good’ Toryisms. After an undistinguished three years at Eton, a first in Mods at ...

Rah, Rah, Cheers, Queers

Terry Castle: On Getting Married

29 August 2013
... lesbian classics. (Not since Sappho … my … its … [party?] … Mytilene … naked Artemis … Judy’s turn … [cry?] …) Victory is sweet, even if glimpsed from afar. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Sunday denied a request from Proposition 8 supporters to halt the issuance of same-sex marriage licences in California. Dozens of same-sex weddings have taken place in the state since ...
25 June 1987
Klaus Fuchs: The man who stole the atom bomb 
by Norman Moss.
Grafton, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 246 13158 6
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... into two watertight compartments and to close his mind to the implications of his spying for the colleagues who trusted him and the country that had given him shelter: but no more abnormal than Anthony Blunt, who made friends with the King while spying for Russia. It has been said that Fuchs handed atomic secrets to an ally and that he merely put into effect the policy of sharing atomic secrets ...

Baring his teeth

Peter Clarke

25 June 1992
The Macmillans: The Story of a Dynasty 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 370 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 17502 1
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... accent and egalitarian leanings did not prevent him from hobnobbing with ‘the best in the land’, as he proudly told a friend. ‘I was at the club the other night, where were Tennyson, Browning, Anthony Trollope, Lord Houghton, Lord Stanley, Tom Taylor, Fitzjames Stephen ... with all of whom I had a pleasant gossip.’ With all of them? But even on such a loquacious evening he still spared a thought ...

Launch the Icebergs!

Tim Lewens: Who Was Max Perutz?

15 November 2007
Max Perutz and the Secret of Life 
by Georgina Ferry.
Chatto, 352 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 7011 7695 2
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... the secret of life when he wrote to his children, in partial mockery of newspaper hyperbole, as he set off for Munich to speak about haemoglobin at a conference in 1962. He imagined a journalist, ‘Anthony Scooper … who follows my every step’: ‘MFP settled in a empty carriage, immediately unpacked various coloured files and proceeded to work on manuscript of world-shaking discovery relating to ...

Adored Gazelle

Ferdinand Mount: Cherubino at Number Ten

20 March 2008
Balfour: The Last Grandee 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 479 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 7195 5424 7
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... Bertie Wooster and Bertie Russell. Certainly, no British prime minister has been more at the centre of a genuinely intellectual circle. His brothers-in-law were Lord Rayleigh, who became head of the Cavendish Laboratory and won the Nobel Prize for Physics, and Henry Sidgwick, the Cambridge philosopher who with his wife Eleanor Balfour founded Newnham College. In 1896, he joined his brothers-in-law, along ...

Everybody behaved perfectly

Eric Hobsbawm: Hilde’s Two Husbands

25 August 2011
Scientist Spies: A Memoir of My Three Parents and the Atom Bomb 
by Paul Broda.
Troubador, 333 pp., £17.50, April 2011, 978 1 84876 607 5
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... to their mood at the time, including the air of slight contempt for purely literary intellectuals that was to make F.R. Leavis foam at the mouth. The politically far from subversive grandees of the Cavendish Laboratory were not shocked by these affiliations. An unknown refugee in 1938, Broda, was vouched for by Sir William Bragg, president of the Royal Society, on the strength of having been the ...

Making a Mouth in a Contemptuous Manner

John Gallagher: Civility Held Sway

4 July 2019
In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilisation in Early Modern England 
by Keith Thomas.
Yale, 457 pp., £25, June 2018, 978 0 300 23577 7
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... of great men … make water as they stood talking with men … and … do openly the most secret necessities of the body.’ The transition to bodily inhibition took place quite slowly, however: Anthony Wood complained that when Charles II’s courtiers left Oxford, they also left ‘their excrements in every corner, in chimneys, studies, coal-houses, cellars’. True civility was the property of ...

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