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Manufactured Humbug

Frank Kermode: A great forger of the nineteenth century, 16 December 2004

John Payne Collier: Scholarship and Forgery in the 19th Century 
by Arthur Freeman and Janet Ing Freeman.
Yale, 1483 pp., £100, August 2004, 0 300 09661 5
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... Shakespeare scholarship in the mid 19th century, one gathers, was not only very competitive but also morally dangerous. It could threaten the virtue, even on occasion the sanity, of its practitioners, a diverse group united only by their lust for Shakespeareana and their unflaggingly competitive spirit. Enthusiastic, self-taught amateurs, they developed professional skills at a time when university professionals took little interest in vernacular scholarship ...

Mr Who He?

Stephen Orgel: Shakespeare’s Poems, 8 August 2002

The Complete Sonnets and Poems 
by William Shakespeare, edited by Colin Burrow.
Oxford, 750 pp., £65, February 2002, 9780198184317
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... and offers instead ‘Who He?’ This seems to me probably correct: the great bibliographer Arthur Freeman has suggested to me that the initials stand for ‘Whoever He (may be)’, and has found a parallel in a contemporary pamphlet. A major theme throughout the edition is what the original readers of these volumes would have expected of them and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 5 May 2005

... based on the one Douglas Adams was working on when he died in 2001; it stars an Englishman (Martin Freeman, perhaps still better known as Tim from The Office) as the picaresque hero, Arthur Dent; and it has the same theme tune. I say ‘it’s said’ because I haven’t managed to see the movie yet: I intelligently arranged ...


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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... is Conspiracy of Silence by two well-known investigative journalists, Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman. They have produced a highly readable account of ‘The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt’ based on a mixture of recollections and gossip. These give a vivid and largely convincing picture of the extraordinary fascination which Burgess exercised over the ...

Consider Jack and Oskar

Michael Rossi: Twin Studies, 7 February 2013

Born Together – Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study 
by Nancy Segal.
Harvard, 410 pp., £39.95, June 2012, 978 0 674 05546 9
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... as a means of further clarifying the effects of heritability. In 1937, Horatio Newman, Frank Freeman and Karl Holzinger introduced the idea of using twins raised in different households, in a study of 19 pairs of twins. And three studies by Cyril Burt between 1943 and 1966 put a number on the heritability of IQ (77.1 per cent). In the early decades of ...

No Crying in This House

Jackson Lears: The Kennedy Myth, 7 November 2013

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 
by David Nasaw.
Allen Lane, 896 pp., £12.35, September 2013, 978 0 14 312407 8
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Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch 
by Barbara Perry.
Norton, 404 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 393 06895 5
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... matter. When asked which parent was more responsible for the children’s success, JFK said to Arthur Schlesinger: ‘Well, no one could say that it was due to my mother.’ While Rose preached ‘responsibility’ to her children, Perry says, Joe became the fixer and ‘enabler of irresponsibility’ for his sons: he reassured young Teddy that ‘the ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... with titles like Salome Dear, Not in the Fridge! and became a jolly television games-player (yes, Arthur Marshall); another, who served in Intelligence, took to wearing bangles and a large diamond in one ear, and was barred from Wimbledon for designing too-saucy dresses for tennis women (Teddy Tinling); a third, who rose from private in the Honourable ...

The Miners’ Strike

Michael Stewart, 6 September 1984

... in the entire drama appears on centre stage. It is difficult to believe that, in the absence of Arthur Scargill, the present strike would have followed anything like the course it has – or even, perhaps, that there would have been a strike at all. He is the most charismatic trade-union leader to appear in Britain for a generation. He is young, he is tough ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... for a bit of good publicity? On 7 April 1983, there was ‘a meeting to honour the memory of Arthur and Cynthia Koestler’. The order of service opens with a suicide note. ‘The purpose of this note,’ which Koestler signed in June 1982, ‘is to make it unmistakeably clear that I intend to commit suicide by taking an overdose of drugs without the ...

Digging up the Ancestors

R.W. Johnson, 14 November 1996

Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... most impressive of the Young Turks to contest MacDonald, lurched into even deeper disgrace, while Arthur Henderson and George Lansbury were simply not memorable. Clement Attlee, the leader for twenty years and the man who led Labour to the new Jerusalem of 1945, was, in the event, the most serviceable hero, but he was never beatified, let alone canonised. Not ...


Gavin Millar, 13 September 1990

Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles 
by Frank Brady.
Hodder, 655 pp., £18.95, January 1990, 0 340 51389 6
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If this was happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 312 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79630 5
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Norma Shearer 
by Gavin Lambert.
Hodder, 381 pp., £17.95, August 1990, 0 340 52947 4
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Ava’s Men: The Private Life of Ava Gardner 
by Jane Ellen Wayne.
Robson, 268 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 86051 636 9
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Goldwyn: A Biography 
by Scott Berg.
Hamish Hamilton, 579 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 241 12832 3
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The Genius of the System: Hollywood Film-Making in the Studio Era 
by Thomas Schatz.
Simon and Schuster, 514 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 671 69708 0
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... man who shrewdly identified the problem that was to stay with Welles the rest of his life. Arthur Pollock of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle: ‘At 23 a man’s future must appal him if he has begun where others, at their peak, left off. Is he good enough to get better throughout two-thirds of a lifetime?’ This was the man, a novice to movies, whom George ...

Flying Pancakes from Space

Chris Lintott: Interstellar Visitors, 3 June 2021

Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life beyond Earth 
by Avi Loeb.
John Murray, 222 pp., £20, February, 978 1 5293 0482 4
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... unique among well-studied objects, though a similar visitor appears in Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (asteroid 4923), which imagines an apparently abandoned cylindrical spacecraft entering the solar system. In Clarke’s novel, plucky astronauts make a close-up inspection of Rama and confirm its artificial nature, though its origin and the ...

Fixing it for heredity

Raymond Fancher, 9 November 1989

The Burt Affair 
by Robert Joynson.
Routledge, 347 pp., £25, August 1989, 9780415010399
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... based on increased in size – a virtual statistical impossibility. When erstwhile Burt admirer Arthur Jensen forth-rightly confirmed and elaborated Kamin’s revelation, most psychologists agreed with his concession that Burt’s results were ‘useless for hypothesis testing’. Furious debate ensued, however, after Oliver Gillie alleged in a 1976 Sunday ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... unqualified support. But then, so did the subsequent resignations of Aneurin Bevan, John Freeman and Harold Wilson, which were in protest at the immediate consequences of that budget. There are, to be sure, regular public and private dishonesties, of the kind that every professional politician is expected to commit, and for which he may hope for ...


Alan Bennett: Selling my hair on eBay, 6 January 2022

... superiority, to which I’ve never particularly subscribed. I’m happy, even proud, to be a freeman of Leeds, especially since, unlike much of the rest of the county, it was not in favour of Brexit. I hope our favourite restaurant in Leeds, Sous le Nez, will survive lockdown, and we miss the occasional kedgeree at Betty’s in Ilkley. But there is no ...

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