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Pinned Down by a Beagle

Colin Burrow: ‘The Tragedy of Arthur’, 1 December 2011

The Tragedy of Arthur 
by Arthur Phillips.
Duckworth, 368 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 0 7156 4137 8
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... he claimed; though he was suspiciously keen to record how much cash was made out of Vortigern. Arthur Phillips’s The Tragedy of Arthur is a topsy-turvy postmodern version of poor William Henry Ireland’s story, complete with a slightly different relationship between a Shakespeare-loving father and his son, and a ...

Tom Phillips: An Interview

Tom Phillips, Adam Smyth and Gill Partington, 11 October 2012

... Tom Phillips, who was born in 1937, is a painter, printmaker and collagist, and the creator of ‘A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel’, which was reviewed by Adam Smyth in the issue of 12 October 2012. The following conversation took place on 16 September 2011 at the South London Gallery, between Phillips (TP), Smyth (AS) and Gill Partington (GP ...

Double Act

Adam Smyth: ‘A Humument’, 11 October 2012

A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 392 pp., £14.95, May 2012, 978 0 500 29043 9
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... On a Saturday morning in November 1966, Tom Phillips picked a book at random from a pile of novels at a house-clearance sale in Peckham Rye. Phillips had never heard of W.H. Mallock’s A Human Document (1892), but he liked the title and the yellow cover and handed over threepence ...

Wait a second what’s that?

August Kleinzahler: Elvis’s Discoverer, 8 February 2018

Sam PhillipsThe Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll 
by Peter Guralnick.
Weidenfeld, 784 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 297 60949 0
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... One night​ in 1939, 16-year-old Sam Phillips jumped into a ‘big old Dodge’ with his older brother and a few friends a little after midnight and set out to drive from Florence, Alabama to Dallas, Texas to hear a celebrated First Baptist pastor deliver a sermon. At four or five a.m. the boys arrived in Memphis, where they found themselves in a black part of town called Beale Street ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis, 1 July 1999

The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... left after their time is over. Some account of the organic nature of tennis is missing from Caryl Phillips’s rather too random compilation, The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis, which I had looked forward to reading as an anthology that starts with Suzanne Lenglen and ends more or less with Venus Williams. The game’s tissue, if you will, is almost ...

My god wears a durag

Ian Penman: Better than Beyoncé, 6 January 2022

Why Solange Matters 
by Stephanie Phillips.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.99, May 2021, 978 0 571 36898 3
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... 2016 when Solange released A Seat at the Table. A Seat at the Table is at the heart of Stephanie Phillips’s Why Solange Matters, and is the main reason she thinks Solange does matter: ‘The album was her ode to Black culture, Black feminism, her elders, as well as a document of the impact of racism and ancestral trauma on Black people’s mental ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... Eighties. Saunders’s account of Partisan and its editor, the insufferably pretentious William Phillips – in a chapter she calls ‘Cultural Nato’ – is devastating. Far from being independent, PR was on the CIA payroll via front organisations like the Farfield Foundation. Before that, it had been carried financially by none other than Henry Luce (the ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns, 11 December 1997

Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... of the Victorian age is ‘Away in a manger’ (anonymous), with ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ (Phillips Brooks) and ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’ (John Greenleaf Whittier) as runners-up. Among the works of the canonical English poets, the lines known to most people are probably those beginning Blake’s Milton, ‘And did those feet in ancient time ...

Provocation

Adam Phillips, 24 August 1995

Walter Pater: Lover of Strange Souls 
by Denis Donoghue.
Knopf, 364 pp., $27.50, May 1995, 0 679 43753 3
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... other adventures. He was physically unprepossessing, nice and rather remote: ‘an ugly pig’, as Arthur Symons put it, ‘though learned and charming too’. Pater seems to have believed, perhaps like some of his biographers, that without looks you can’t have a life. When Wilde was told that Pater had died, he replied that he did not know that he had ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean, 3 July 2008

... conversion of Dickens into some sort of German Expressionist. Another recent book on Lean, by Gene Phillips, is called Beyond the Epic; and we might think ‘Before the Epic’ would also be a good title. The retrospective of Lean’s work showing at BFI Southbank in June and July covers the whole career, which seems to fall into what we might call shifts. The ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... for Taylor, was to follow. Earlier, Gibbs had asked Taylor whether he had ever lived with a Mr Phillips, in Cambridge Street, off Broad Street? No, Taylor said. David Phillips was now called to the stand: did he know a John Taylor? A man who called himself Roberts, ...

The Pink Hotel

Wayne Koestenbaum, 3 April 1997

The Last Thing He Wanted 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 227 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 00 224080 7
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... this feuilleton in a hotel room, the Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas: a Didionesque locale. (Caryl Phillips once told me that he liked to write his books in faraway hotel rooms. I admire that. It brings to mind Janet Flanner at the Ritz and James Schuyler at the Chelsea.) Joan Didion has often noted transiency’s allure, a writer’s necessary alienation from ...

Tesco and a Motorway

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite: In the Coalfields, 9 September 2021

Anne & Betty: United by the Struggle 
by Anne Scargill and Betty Cook.
Route, 256 pp., £20, November 2020, 978 1 901927 81 8
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Women of the Durham Coalfield in the 20th Century: Hannah’s Daughter 
by Margaret Hedley.
History Press, 159 pp., £14.99, March, 978 0 7509 9504 7
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Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialisation in Postwar Scotland 
by Ewan Gibbs.
University of London, 306 pp., £25, February, 978 1 912702 55 8
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Scottish Coal Miners in the 20th Century 
by Jim Phillips.
Edinburgh, 336 pp., £24.99, February, 978 1 4744 5232 8
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The Shadow of the Mine: Coal and the End of Industrial Britain 
by Huw Beynon and Ray Hudson.
Verso, 402 pp., £20, June, 978 1 83976 155 3
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... recalls attending a debate over the relative merits of nuclear power and coal with her husband, Arthur, president of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1981 to 2002. The scientist who was arguing for nuclear power had brought a rod of uranium in a plastic case and a piece of coal. He showed each to the audience, then held up his hands to demonstrate how ...

Fit only to be a greengrocer

E.S. Turner, 23 September 1993

Rider Haggard and the Lost Empire 
by Tom Pocock.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £20, August 1993, 0 297 81308 0
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... the Prime Minister?’ enquired Haggard hopefully, eager for Balfour’s reaction. ‘Oh Arthur won’t read it – you know, Arthur won’t read it.’ The Government decided to leave emigration to the existing agencies. Haggard would have been entitled to shake his head at other government approaches, but he ...

Scrum down

Paul Smith, 14 November 1996

Making Men: Rugby and Masculine Identity 
edited by John Nauright and Timothy Chandler.
Cass, 260 pp., £35, April 1996, 0 7146 4637 7
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... by much mutual rubbing in of embrocation afterwards) may well have been – as Jock Phillips suggests writing of 19th-century New Zealand, but with a sidelong glance at the English public schools – a source of comforting closeness in a society where women were scarce or marginalised and the taboo against homosexuality was strong. The binding ...

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