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Hans Keller, 15 October 1981

The Proms and Natural Justice: A Plan for Renewal 
by Robert Simpson.
Toccata Press, 66 pp., £1.95, July 1981, 0 907689 00 0
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The Proms and the Men Who Made Them 
by Barrie Hall.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £8.95, June 1981, 0 04 780024 0
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The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven 
by Antony Hopkins.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 435 81427 3
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... a BBC spokesman informed the Sunday Times that ‘nothing will be said at all’ about either Barrie Hall’s book The Proms and the Men Who Made Them or the present piece: ‘it’s a decision by management.’ To one who has pumped many years of his life into the BBC’s middle management, it is downright distressing to find that what used to be an ...

The Real Johnny Hall

Penelope Fitzgerald, 3 October 1985

Our Three Selves: A Life of Radclyffe Hall 
by Michael Baker.
Hamish Hamilton, 386 pp., £13.95, June 1985, 0 241 11539 6
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... was ‘admirably restrained’. It sold quite well, going into a second impression, and Radclyffe Hall, with her lover Una Troubridge, thought of taking a cottage in Rye. She may have felt some disappointment, having planned her novel in a crusader’s spirit. She claimed to have written the first full-length treatment in English of women who loved women. In ...

The Buffalo in the Hall

Susannah Clapp: Beryl Bainbridge, 5 January 2017

Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means, a Biography 
by Brendan King.
Bloomsbury, 564 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 1 4729 0853 7
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... draw the gaze, and deflect it. An air of vagueness – and a celebrated stuffed buffalo in the hall of her house – fed into constricted ideas about women who write books. Big brain or scatterbrain? Bainbridge had a fringe and was skinny; she looked like a chanteuse. Bingo: she was one of the dippy ones. She colluded with this, in her writing and her ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: The art of William Nicholson, 18 November 2004

... waiting outside an office for a meeting to begin. A gigantic sepia photograph of the gutted Cloth Hall in Ypres forms the background; red cap-bands are the only bright colours. It is an uncommonly fine piece of official portraiture, pleasing in its lack of eloquence. The patterned woodcuts he made in the 1890s are now – have probably always been ...

Boomster and the Quack

Stefan Collini: How to Get on in the Literary World, 2 November 2006

Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918 
by Philip Waller.
Oxford, 1181 pp., £85, April 2006, 0 19 820677 1
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... by convening in Whitehall a gathering of ‘eminent authors’, attended by William Archer, J.M. Barrie, Arnold Bennett, A.C. Benson, Hugh Benson, Laurence Binyon, Robert Bridges, Hall Caine, G.K. Chesterton, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Maurice Hewlett, Anthony ...

Vous êtes belle

Penelope Fitzgerald, 8 January 1987

Alain-Fournier: A Brief Life 1886-1914 
by David Arkell.
Carcanet, 178 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 85635 484 8
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Henri Alain-Fournier: Towards the Lost Domain: Letters from London 1905 
translated by W.J. Strachan.
Carcanet, 222 pp., £16.95, November 1986, 0 85635 674 3
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The Lost Domain 
by Henri Alain-Fournier, translated by Frank Davison.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 212262 2
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... the great beauty of the ‘other book’ come partly from the dissonance of its elements. James Barrie noted in 1922 that ‘long after writing P. Pan its true meaning came back to me – desperate attempt to grow up but can’t.’ Le Grand Meaulnes is about adolescents who want to want not to grow up, but fail. Alain-Fournier, as has been pointed out more ...

He don’t mean any harm

John Bayley, 28 June 1990

A.A. Milne: His Life 
by Ann Thwaite.
Faber, 554 pp., £17.50, June 1990, 0 571 13888 8
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... Willows for his little boy as a result? Milne turned it into popular dramatic form as Toad of Toad Hall, but despite superficial resemblance to the Pooh world it remains a fundamentally different achievement. The Wind in the Willows is a masterpiece because it really does create a new world, a serious self-contained place, whereas Pooh and Christopher Robin ...

Bright Old Thing

D.A.N. Jones, 23 July 1987

Letters of Conrad Russell: 1897-1947 
edited by Georgiana Blakiston.
Murray, 278 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 7195 4382 7
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... sent to school and could not spell. It is all too easy to present him as Squire Booby of Booby Hall. Before going up to Oxford he had to be coached by a Mr Smith (later the Master of Balliol), while Mrs Smith endeavoured to enliven him by singing a comic song: ‘My jolly red nose, caused by gin, I suppose.’ Despite intensive coaching, he nearly failed ...

Having it both ways

Peter Clarke, 27 January 1994

A.J.P. Taylor: A Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 468 pp., £18.99, January 1994, 1 85619 210 5
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A.J.P. Taylor: The Traitor within the Gates 
by Robert Cole.
Macmillan, 285 pp., £40, November 1993, 0 333 59273 5
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From Napoleon to the Second International: International Essays on the 19th Century 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Chris Wrigley.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 241 13444 7
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... himself looking to even younger women for a kind of consolation which it would have required J.M. Barrie to understand, or innocently fail to understand. Alan sided with his father, or rather against his mother. His resolve never to be put in such a position himself was, however, mocked by his subsequent marital experience. His own wife Margaret was to prove ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... When my father, Barrie Edgar, joined the BBC in 1946, its television service consisted of two studios at Alexandra Palace, and two outside broadcast units. Rising quickly from studio manager to the rank of outside broadcast producer, he spent his early years, in London and then in Birmingham, producing anything and everything: from seaside summer shows and circuses to race meetings and general election counts, from Muffin the Mule to the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral ...

‘Equality exists in Valhalla’

Richard J. Evans: German Histories, 4 December 2014

Germany: Memories of a Nation 
by Neil MacGregor.
Allen Lane, 598 pp., £30, November 2014, 978 0 241 00833 1
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Germany: Memories of a Nation 
British Museum, until 25 January 2015Show More
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... reunited Germany of today. One of them, the beguiling exhibition at the British Museum curated by Barrie Cook, displays objects of many kinds, from the wooden sculptures made in the late 15th century by Tilman Riemenschneider to the metallic icon of the Volkswagen Beetle, in order to address the question of Germany’s fragmented sense of itself across the ...

Can you spot the source?

Wendy Doniger, 17 February 2000

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 
by J.K. Rowling.
Bloomsbury, 317 pp., £10.99, July 1999, 0 7475 4215 5
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... Cross, visible only to people who know where to look for it. The ceiling in the school dining hall is a constantly changing lifelike simulation of the sky, and the portraits are alive: they visit one another and talk to the people outside the frames. Though Games loom large, the game of Quidditch is played in the air on flying broomsticks. (For most ...

Blame it on the boogie

Andrew O’Hagan: In Pursuit of Michael Jackson, 6 July 2006

On Michael Jackson 
by Margo Jefferson.
Pantheon, 146 pp., $20, January 2006, 0 375 42326 5
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... about Peter Pan, Jackson cannot have failed to notice the recently very popular view that J.M. Barrie was a paedophile, haunted by his dead sibling David, and animated by his fascination with the Llewellyn-Davies boys whom he met in Kensington Gardens. Jefferson does not pick up on the parallels – the horrible accusation, the sibling psychodrama, the ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... seemed prophetic. It was efficiently directed by John MacKenzie, but the meat of the thing is in Barrie Keeffe’s script, his intimacy with tired ground that is about to be invaded, overwhelmed, rewritten. The advent of Margaret Thatcher was announced, as MacKenzie’s crime fable makes clear, by a slippery handshake of mutually beneficial relationships ...

Darkness Audible

Nicholas Spice, 11 February 1993

Benjamin Britten 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Faber, 680 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 571 14324 5
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... and schoolboyish’ he was. His diaries from that time record enthusiasms for the novels of J.M. Barrie and Arthur Ransome, for Emil and the Detectives and The Sword in the Stone. And he was much pre-occupied with writing a string quartet about his schooldays, with movements given titles like ‘P.T.’ and ‘Ragging’. His emotional life centred on his ...

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