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Love’s Labours

Valerie Pearl

8 November 1979
King Charles II 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 524 pp., £8.95
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... In her first line, AntoniaFraser describes her book as ‘a labour of love’. Given her somewhat romantic view of Charles II’s many affairs of the heart and her warm sympathy for the King, it is a doubly apt admission. The book ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Fragrant Antonia Fraser

25 February 2010
... about their lives and their loved ones, and some pay to have their writing printed and distributed to their friends and relatives. It’s called vanity publishing, but it’s not very different from AntoniaFraser, say, going through her own diaries written daily during her 33-year relationship with Harold Pinter, and editing them with a few linking comments into a book published by Weidenfeld (£20 ...
3 July 1997
The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 347 pp., £20, August 1996, 9780297813484
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... of Westminster; the hunting party was itself hunted down across the West Midlands; the barrels were handed over to the Ordnance Office, which said that the powder in them had decayed, yet again. AntoniaFraser’s word for the scheme is ‘terrorism’, and she makes no bones about using it, though she implies in her dedication that some of her Catholic friends and relations would feel differently ...

Every inch a king

Antonia Fraser

16 October 1980
Great Harry 
by Carolly Erickson.
Dent, 428 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 460 04366 8
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... It is legitimate to ask whether there is a need for another full-length biography of Henry VIII. In 1968, Professor Scarisbrick’s great work dramatically revised our thinking about the bloat King. Three years later appeared Lacey Baldwin Smith’s rich and racy study of the King’s character, taken from the viewpoint of old age and subtitled ‘The Mask of Royalty’: here Tudor history and modern ...

Diary

C.K. Stead: Truth and autobiographies

27 April 2000
... a large sum in 1974. (The book is full of stories of Naipaul’s meanness, his unwillingness to pay the bill in restaurants and so on.) The other guests are Julian Jebb (unkindly caricatured), Hugh Fraser (‘tall’, ‘lopsided’, with an ‘aura of helpless authority’) and his wife Antonia, whose charms and ‘sexiness’ are unstintingly acknowledged. Then a couple from New Zealand arrive ...

Dynasties

Antonia Fraser

3 April 1980
The House of Stuart 
by Maurice Ashley.
Dent, 237 pp., £9.95, January 1980, 0 460 04458 3
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... Why should anyone wish to write the history of a Royal house? On one level, the answer to that question is easy: most of us learnt history in childhood in terms of Angevins, Plantaganets and so forth, and these convenient groupings gave shape to what was often so dauntingly shapeless. Patterns inculcated early in life tend to leave a permanent impression, especially on those who take no more than a ...

Going Native

A.N. Wilson: Theroux’s portait of Naipaul

13 May 1999
Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 376 pp., £17.99, December 1998, 0 241 14046 3
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... introductions secured by Naipaul – on hobnobbing terms with the sort of people who give (or gave) dinner parties. He seems touchingly, but crudely, pleased, to have clocked up Hugh Thomas, Hugh and AntoniaFraser, as well as some Soho poets, in his first week. And of course, he has managed to bed one of our girls before Christmas. He is never more whining than in his suggestion – which rises to a ...

Sexual Whiggery

Blair Worden

7 June 1984
The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s Lot in 17th-Century England 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 544 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 297 78381 5
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Family Life in the 17th Century: The Verneys of Claydon House 
by Miriam Slater.
Routledge, 209 pp., £10.50, March 1984, 0 7100 9477 9
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... we do have is much more revealing about society’s top women than about its bottom women; and the varieties of social opportunity and experience in the Stuart age indicate the difficulties posed by AntoniaFraser’s subtitle, ‘Woman’s Lot in 17th-Century England’. A better choice might have been ‘Meetings with Remarkable Women’, for her book has little place for the ordinary or for the ...

Injury Time

Robert Taubman

2 July 1981
Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... Between the three corpses dug out of the snow in Gorky Park, Moscow and the sables let loose in the snow on Staten Island at the end – ‘black on white, black on white, and then gone’ – there are connections of cause and effect such as few crime novels have ever had to cope with. Gorky Park is a long novel because it tries to deal as fully with Moscow as Simenon’s novels with Paris or Chandler’s ...
24 January 1980
... after him for bright young English and American editors. He also had, and still has, the gratitude and affection of a host of authors as different as Edna O’Brien and Eric Ambler, Ronald Blythe and AntoniaFraser. That, perhaps, is the crucial difference between the two men. Lane was a publisher’s publisher, a man with immense commercial flair who opened up markets no one had ever dreamed existed but ...

Nice Guy

Michael Wood

14 November 1996
The Life and Work of Harold Pinter 
by Michael Billington.
Faber, 414 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 571 17103 6
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... Moonlight (1993) and Ashes to Ashes, which opened at the Royal Court in September of this year. Pinter divorced Vivien Merchant in 1980 (she died two years later of alcoholic poisoning) and married AntoniaFraser. During the Sixties, Pinter had, we now learn, an affair with TV presenter Joan Bakewell, which Billington, before finally coming clean, presents to us with remarkable coyness. We are first ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers

7 August 1986
Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... Helena’? Or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu ‘Montague’? Or Cecilia ‘Cecelia’? Or Anne Ehrenpreis ‘Ehrenpries’? Or Patricia Köster ‘Koster’? Or Margarette Smith ‘Margaret’? Or AntoniaFraser ‘Frazer’? Above all, what credence can one attach to a student of the subject who lists Charlotte Charke as ‘Clarke’, thus defacing one of the most interesting names in the entire ...

On the Lower Slopes

Stefan Collini: Greene’s Luck

5 August 2010
Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 580 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 224 07921 1
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... was principally an endocrinologist, but when his career in the 1930s is under discussion we are told that ‘he enjoyed obstetrics and, years later, took a retrospective pride in having delivered AntoniaFraser.’ Even the background fact of Uncle Eppy’s having worked, when first in Brazil, for the firm of Edward Johnston prompts the titbit ‘a scion of the family was Brian “Johnners” ...

Resurrecting the Tudors

John Pemble: James Anthony Froude

23 May 2013
James Anthony Froude: An Intellectual Biography of a Victorian Prophet 
by Ciaran Brady.
Oxford, 500 pp., £45, May 2013, 978 0 19 966803 8
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... head, as usual, to show it to the crowd, exposed the withered features of a grizzled, wrinkled old woman. This account of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots wasn’t written by Hilary Mantel or AntoniaFraser. It was written more than 140 years ago by James Anthony Froude, whose History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada put the Tudor show on the road. That wasn ...

The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman

14 December 2017
A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... has been disrupted before, to little long-term effect. Harman and her three sisters were born into an upper-middle-class London family: her father (whose sister, Elizabeth, became Lady Longford; AntoniaFraser is Harman’s cousin) was a doctor and her mother had qualified as a barrister, though she gave up work when she had children. Their four daughters were to be educated but marriageable; not ...

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