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In the Circus

William Wootten: Low-Pressure Poetry, 3 August 2006

The Collected Poems 
by Kenneth Koch.
Knopf, 761 pp., £40, November 2005, 1 4000 4499 5
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... drinking with them at the Cedar Bar, Koch, Ashbery and O’Hara, together with James Schuyler and Barbara Guest, were labelled the New York School of poets. While, in truth, these writers didn’t form anything so well defined as a school, they influenced and encouraged one another and had a shared antipathy to the stuffy academic verse of the time. Koch ...

He K-norcked Her One

August Kleinzahler: Burroughs and Kerouac’s Novel, 28 May 2009

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks 
by Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
Penguin, 214 pp., £20, November 2008, 978 1 84614 164 5
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... in life, Edie Parker, who would become Kerouac’s first wife. Friends described her as resembling Barbara Stanwyck, not just in looks, it would seem from the book, but in manner: Janie has a mouth on her. In one domestic scene, Ryko and Janie are in the bedroom while Phillip is crashing on the couch. Al has just fled the apartment after Janie threw a book at ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... At the Cliveden swimming-pool Jack met, not for the first time, Astor’s osteopath, Stephen Ward, ‘the Doctor’ of the quadrilateral, and the exceptionally pretty Christine Keeler. Profumo, as he later put it, ‘was extremely taken by Christine, whom I thought was Ward’s girlfriend, but he did not seem to be ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... Four, but for the closely related cases of the Maguire family, the Birmingham Six, Judith Ward? What did it mean for the system of justice in England? Some years earlier, in a judgment in the Birmingham Six case, Lord Denning, the Master of the Rolls, had summed up the broader significance of such a reversal. If the six men win, it will mean that the ...

Keeping up the fight

Paul Delany, 24 January 1991

D.H. Lawrence: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 446 pp., £19.95, August 1990, 0 333 49247 1
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D.H. Lawrence 
by Tony Pinkney.
Harvester, 180 pp., £30, June 1990, 0 7108 1347 3
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England, My England, and Other Stories 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce Steele.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £37.50, March 1990, 0 521 35267 3
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The ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ Trial (Regina v. Penguin Books Limited) 
edited by H. Montgomery Hyde.
Bodley Head, 333 pp., £18, June 1990, 0 370 31105 1
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Boy 
by James Hanley.
Deutsch, 191 pp., £11.99, August 1990, 0 233 98578 6
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D.H. Lawrence: A Literary Life 
by John Worthen.
Macmillan, 196 pp., £27.50, September 1989, 0 333 43352 1
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... was remarkably close-mouthed about the hard facts of her marriage. Meyers relies on her daughter, Barbara Barr, for two bold claims: that Lawrence was sterile from about the age of 16, and that he had a physical affair with William Henry Hocking in 1917. Yet when Barr denies something that Meyers wants to believe – Frieda’s sexual encounter with a ...

Auden Askew

Barbara Everett, 19 November 1981

W.H. Auden: A Biography 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 495 pp., £12.50, June 1981, 0 04 928044 9
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Early Auden 
by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 407 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 11193 9
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... end of his life wore dark glasses, ‘for no apparent reason’, as Carpenter says, but perhaps to ward off the sight of things) decided nothing at all, or simply did not know why he acted as he did: that in the general pattern of his life the crossing of the Atlantic was a significant non-event. Poe’s famous story of the Purloined Letter tells of an object ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... of the 20th century. They may be right. Norma Jeane Mortensen was born in June 1926 in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital. Her mother Gladys Baker was now and again mad, leaving her daughter troubled but free to dream up an alternative life, and to develop her vital allure reading movie magazines. Norma Jeane had a keen sense of how to conquer ...

Squealing to Survive

John Lahr: Clancy was here, 19 July 2018

Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal and Raging Egos 
by Clancy Sigal.
Icon, 352 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 1 78578 439 2
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The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years 
by Clancy Sigal.
Bloomsbury, 274 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 4088 8580 2
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... his Hollywood hustle as an agent in the mid-1950s, representing the interests of Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, Joseph Cotten and many lesser lights in the studio firmament. Those of us who knew Clancy – he died in July 2017 in Los Angeles at the age of ninety – can attest that he was a tummler of note, a real-life Zelig who ...

The Cow Bells of Kitale

Patrick Collinson: The Selwyn Affair, 5 June 2003

... overdrawn at the bank. In 1929 Helen went ‘home’, and Liz was born in October. (Her sister Barbara, then aged eight, was at an English convent school.) When Geoffrey joined them a month or two later it was clear that something had to change. He looked for a position of some kind but without success. A deal was struck with his elder brother, Gordon, a ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... Unabombers without typewriters – while others shine for a time then disappear. Marion Barbara (‘Joe’) Carstairs, the subject of Kate Summerscale’s vastly entertaining new biography, The Queen of Whale Cay, would seem to fall into the latter category. In the Twenties, Carstairs (1900-93) was briefly yet wildly celebrated as the ‘fastest ...

Sino-Americana

Perry Anderson, 9 February 2012

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China 
by Ezra Vogel.
Harvard, 876 pp., £29.95, September 2011, 978 0 674 05544 5
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On China 
by Henry Kissinger.
Allen Lane, 586 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 1 84614 346 5
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The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China 
by Jay Taylor.
Harvard, 736 pp., £14.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 06049 4
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... one of his generals – with Kissinger featuring as Ribbentrop: a tactical deal with one enemy to ward off dangers from another. Deng, however, sought more than this. His aim was strategic acceptance within the American imperial system, to gain access to the technology and capital needed for his drive to modernise the Chinese economy. This was the ...

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew, 21 May 2020

Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent 
by Priyamvada Gopal.
Verso, 607 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 1 78478 412 6
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... first used during the French conquest of Algeria in the 19th century, and as the historian Stuart Ward has shown, was widely adopted after the First World War by European intellectuals as they reckoned with imperial decline. From their perspective, decolonisation was the natural telos of empire, and the rise of a post-imperial world order would represent not ...

Here was a plague

Tom Crewe, 27 September 2018

How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids 
by David France.
Picador, 624 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 5098 3940 7
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Patient Zero and the Making of the Aids Epidemic 
by Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, 432 pp., £26.50, November 2017, 978 0 226 06395 9
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Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1989-90 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 314 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78487 387 5
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Smiling in Slow Motion: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1991-94 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 388 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78487 516 9
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The Ward 
by Gideon Mendel.
Trolley, 88 pp., £25, December 2017, 978 1 907112 56 0
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... not worth caring about at the time, they have not been thought worthy of remembrance either. The Ward is a memorial of sorts. It’s a collection of Gideon Mendel’s photographs of four patients on the Aids wards at Middlesex Hospital in London – John, Ian, Steven and André, all of whom died – over the course of a few weeks in 1993, interspersed with ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... Christen, adventuress installed by Powell in Islington as stenographer for Orwell, or Georgina Ward, actress in a belated stage version of his prewar novel Afternoon Men – tell no tales. His friend Alan Ross, editor of the London Magazine, thought that surrounded by promiscuous friends, he may have simply found a vicarious pleasure, productive for his ...

The Clothes They Stood Up In

Alan Bennett, 28 November 1996

... Such were Mr Ransome’s thoughts as he sat across from his wife, who was having another stab at Barbara Pym. She knew he wasn’t listening to Mozart though there were few obvious signs and nothing so vulgar as a bulge in his trousers. No, there was just a look of strain on Mr Ransome’s face, which was the very opposite of the look he had when he was ...

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