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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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... which offered a full and apparently frank story about how he came to fake Shakespeare. All for love, he claimed; though he was suspiciously keen to record how much cash was made out of Vortigern. ArthurPhillips’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 ...

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 ...

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. Back at his kitchen table, Phillips began a process of remaking or ...

Tom Phillips: An Interview

Tom Phillips, Adam Smyth and Gill Partington

4 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 ...

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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... who play the satellites and occasionally rise to prominence with scarcely a ripple or memory 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 ...
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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... Rasputinlike; even Partisan Review, famously Trotskyite in its origins, joined the neo-cons in the 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 ...

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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... than it used to be, but was once possibly the best known of all. The most famous American poem 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 ...
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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... he wanted. The Colonial Secretary seemed well pleased with Haggard’s report, as were the newspapers. ‘And 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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean

3 July 2008
... Brief Encounter (1945), a black and grey masterpiece, and Oliver Twist (1948), an extraordinary 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 ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell: On the trail of the mysterious John Taylor

1 April 2004
... represented himself as a bachelor following his first marriage, he had committed perjury again. Worse, 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, Phillips replied, had taken lodgings ...

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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... Making Men sees at the heart of its subject. The opportunities which it gave for respectable touching (amplified 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 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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... I began 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 ...
6 February 1986
...  a belief, popular in the Sixties, which was to be disavowed by Jim Callaghan at the 1976 Labour Party Conference. The unemployment-inflation ‘trade-off’ was embodied in the famous Phillips curve. As early as 1967, in a Presidential Address to the American Economic Association, Friedman had offered a theoretical explanation for the existence of a short-run trade-off, but argued that ...

Odd Union

David Cannadine

20 October 1994
Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 415 pp., £18, October 1994, 0 670 84159 5
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... published in 1884. But she merited an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, there were two early 20th-century lives, her correspondence with the Duke of Clarence was edited and published by Arthur Aspinall, and in 1965 Brian Forthergill produced a lengthy and appreciative study of Mrs Jordan as an actress. Why, then, has Claire Tomalin, a biographer who excels in the recovery of the lives of ...

How to Survive Your Own Stupidity

Andrew O’Hagan: Homage to Laurel and Hardy

22 August 2002
Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy 
by Simon Louvish.
Faber, 518 pp., £8.99, September 2002, 0 571 21590 4
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... and plausible, won’t hinder the growth of that affection. In 1890, Stan Laurel was born in Yorkshire to a girl from the North Riding and a man who made his own greasepaints. But Stan’s father, Arthur Jefferson, did more than that: he was a theatrical entrepreneur and a writer of plays and sketches. Stan grew up in the theatre, making his first stage appearance at the Glasgow Britannia Theatre in ...

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