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19 January 1989
Seasons of the Seal 
by Fred Bruemmer and Brian Davies.
Bloomsbury, 160 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0214 5
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Whale Nation 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 191 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 224 02555 4
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Falling for a dolphin 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 47 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 0 224 02659 3
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Prisoners of the Seas 
by K.A. Gourlay.
Zed, 256 pp., £25.95, November 1988, 0 86232 686 9
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Progress for a Small Planet 
by Barbara Ward.
Earthscan, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1988, 1 85383 028 3
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Future Earth: Exploring the Frontiers of Space 
edited by Nigel Calder and John Newell.
Christopher Helm, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 9780747004202
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Sizewell B: An Anatomy of the Enquiry 
by Timothy O’Riordan, Ray Kemp and Michael Purdue.
Macmillan, 474 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 333 38944 1
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Early Green Politics 
by Peter Gould.
Harvester, 225 pp., £29.95, June 1988, 0 7108 1192 6
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Dreamers of the Absolute 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
Radius, 312 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 09 173240 9
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The Coming of the Greens 
by Jonathon Porritt and David Winner.
Fontana, 287 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 00 637244 9
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Ecology and Socialism 
by Martin Ryle.
Radius, 122 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 09 182247 5
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... Bruemmer’s remarkable photographs follow the lives and the 4000-mile migrations of seals southwards from Greenland, and Brian Davies, founder twenty years ago of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, tells of his success in 1983 in persuading the EEC Governments to ban the import of baby seal products. By 1987 he had procured a similar ban in ...

Knowing

Frank Kermode

3 December 1981
Bliss 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 296 pp., £6.50, November 1981, 0 571 11769 4
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Exotic Pleasures 
by Peter Carey.
Picador, 192 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 330 26550 4
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... this man’s semen, though she presumably passes within range of a lavatory on her way to the ward: the book has quite a lot of fast-moving, gripping and orginal sex, including a scene in which three women, in various parts of a house, have more or less simultaneous and audible orgasms. There is an adolescent son who induces his 15-year-old sister, a ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair

21 February 2013
An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... or to control. Britain in the early 1960s was a divided country, torn by conflicting impulses, towards the past and the future, tradition and experimentation, dignity and fun. But Davenport-Hines doesn’t see these oppositions as having created social divisions between the classes, or between the coming men and the old buffers. Instead, they were evident in ...
6 December 1984
Matriarch: Queen Mary and the House of Windsor 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 462 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 340 24465 8
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... According to Barbara Tuchman, quoted on the jacket, there is ‘a startling royal family scandal buried at the heart’ of this biography of Queen Mary. What steaming titbit can her fellow American, Anne Edwards, biographer of film stars, have turned up at this late hour? Can it really be that rather overworked rumour that identifies Prince Eddy, the Queen’s first fiancé, as Jack the Ripper? Indeed it can ...

Blights

Patricia Craig

23 April 1987
A Darkness in the Eye 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 212 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 434 59961 1
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The Stars at Noon 
by Denis Johnson.
Faber, 181 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14607 4
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Like Birds in the Wilderness 
by Agnes Owens.
Fourth Estate, 138 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 947795 51 0
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Fool’s Sanctuary 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 132 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 241 12035 7
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A Fatal Inversion 
by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell).
Viking, 317 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 80977 2
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Sisters of the Road 
by Barbara Wilson.
Women’s Press, 202 pp., £3.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4073 9
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The price you pay 
by Hannah Wakefield.
Women’s Press, 245 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4072 0
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... thinks this unduly unbigoted policeman. Here we have an instance of the author bending over backwards to point up the contortions in Irish affairs. The basic thriller-writer’s plot involves power struggles of one kind or another, and its effectiveness, in part, may be gauged by the amount of intricacy and irony that goes into it. The Power trilogy is ...

Well, was he?

A.N. Wilson

20 June 1996
Bernard Shaw: The Ascent of the Superman 
by Sally Peters.
Yale, 328 pp., £18.95, April 1996, 0 300 06097 1
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... from grace. As a youngish and middle-aged man, he devoted hours of his time to the largely unrewarding work of a councillor in the St Pancras Ward of London. Thanks to Shaw, the first ladies’ lavatory in England was constructed at the top of Parkway in Camden Town. The campaign to build the loo was in its way an ...

Fear among the Teacups

Dinah Birch: Ellen Wood

8 February 2001
East Lynne 
by Ellen Wood, edited by Andrew Maunder.
Broadview, 779 pp., £7.95, October 2000, 1 55111 234 5
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... but the austere Harriet Martineau liked it too, as did General Gordon, Joseph Conrad and Edward VII. Its appeal spread far beyond British readers. R.K. Narayan dwells fondly on the ‘bitter tears’ he shed over East Lynne in his 1975 memoir, My Days: ‘Reading and rereading it always produced a lump in my throat, and that was the most luxurious ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland

11 July 1991
The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... Grundy taking responsibility for the early period, Virginia Blain for the Victorian and Edwardian periods, Patricia Clements for the 20th century). The supporting mass of scholars, one gathers, was used for the more exotic writers and for fact-checking. As a result of its extensively deployed woman power, the Companion is commendably strong on such ...

I haven’t been nearly mad enough

Jenny Diski: Modern Madness

6 February 2014
TheLast Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times 
by Barbara Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £18.99, February 2014, 978 0 241 14509 8
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... Madness is a childish thing,’ Barbara Taylor writes in The Last Asylum, a memoir of her two decades as a mental patient. The book records her breakdown, her 21-year-long analysis, her periods as an inmate at Friern Mental Hospital in North London, and in addition provides a condensed history of the treatment of mental illness and the institutions associated with it ...

Wasps and all

Philip Horne

8 December 1988
A Chinese Summer 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0257 9
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Three Uneasy Pieces 
by Patrick White.
Cape, 59 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 224 02594 5
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The Captain and the Enemy 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 189 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 1 871061 05 9
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View of Dawn in the Tropics 
by G. Cabrera Infante, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 571 15186 8
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The House of Stairs 
by Barbara Vine.
Viking, 282 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 670 82414 3
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... though, reading in the bath, I glanced down from the page to see a large one busily doggypaddle towards me: and weeks of submerged panic surfaced with a splash. I hurled the book into the air, expelled the wasp, sent half my bathwater onto the floor and subsided again into what remained within a couple of seconds, pulse racing. That seemed the climax of the ...
20 May 2015
... of 26 porters and hammock bearers, two personal attendants and a full-time cook. His cousin Barbara went too (she said she was 23; Tim Butcher, in Chasing the Devil, reports her age as 27), though Greene scarcely mentions her. Her account of the trip was published in 1938, under the title Land Benighted. It was soon out of print. In his introduction to ...
18 June 1981
Henry James Letters. Vol. III: 1883-1895 
edited by Leon Edel.
Macmillan, 579 pp., £17.50, March 1981, 0 333 18046 1
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Culture and Conduct in the Novels of Henry James 
by Alwyn Berland.
Cambridge, 231 pp., £17.50, April 1981, 0 521 23343 7
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Literary Reviews and Essays, A London Life, The Reverberator, Italian Hours, The Sacred Fount, Watch and Ward 
by Henry James.
Columbus, 409 pp., £2.60, February 1981, 0 394 17098 9
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... by calling the event ‘most interest-quenching’. Not that these are writer’s letters in any inward sense: James rarely mentions his books, except to thank someone for appreciation or to battle desperately with a publisher for slightly better terms; when his publisher goes bankrupt and he loses a year’s royalties, James even manages to scream in a polite ...

Hallelujah Lasses

E.S. Turner: The Salvation Army

24 May 2001
Pulling the Devil’s Kingdom down: The Salvation Army in Victorian Britain 
by Pamela Walker.
California, 337 pp., £22.95, April 2001, 0 520 22591 0
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... fire is beautiful and blood a vital and splendid red . . . (this from the preface to Major Barbara). In darkest London appearances could be deceptive. Those belligerent women who ambushed the hapless male on his way to the public house were not, as might be supposed, harpies eager to lure him into more vicious courses. They were Salvationist ...

Little was expected of Annie

Dinah Birch: The Story of an English Family

19 October 2006
Faith, Duty and the Power of Mind: The Cloughs and Their Circle 1820-1960 
by Gillian Sutherland.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £40, March 2006, 0 521 86155 1
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... own school in Ambleside, where her pupils included the tempestuous Mary Arnold, later Mrs Humphry Ward. Living with Arthur’s well-connected widow allowed Annie to mix with women of radical ideas and public ambition: Florence Nightingale, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Bessie Rayner Parkes, Emily Davies. Her feminist ...

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