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England’s End

Peter Campbell, 7 June 1984

English Journey 
by J.B. Priestley.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 434 60371 6
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English Journey, or The Road to Milton Keynes 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth/BBC, 158 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 563 20299 8
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Crisis and Conservation: Conflict in the British Countryside 
by Charlie Pye-Smith and Chris Rose.
Penguin, 213 pp., £3.95, March 1984, 0 14 022437 8
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Invisible Country: A Journey through Scotland 
by James Campbell.
Weidenfeld, 164 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 297 78371 8
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Literary Britain 
by Bill Brandt.
Victoria and Albert Museum in association with Hurtwood Press, 184 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 905209 66 4
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... Journey. Now, as the succeeding wave reaches the bottom of its downward swing, the BBC send out Bainbridge to follow Priestley, and James Campbell records travels which were in the spirit, if not the footsteps of Muir. Why novelists? Perhaps because it is reckoned that they will give a human dimension to the changes documented in unemployment statistics and ...

Booker Books

Frank Kermode, 22 November 1979

... Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden is an instance; more strikingly, the now numerous books of Beryl Bainbridge, who has been shortlisted but has not won. A more recent candidate is Penelope Fitzgerald, whose first straight novel The Bookshop won no prize, and whose second, Offshore, is shortlisted this year. If it wins, I shall need to revise my ...

Leaf, Button, Dog

Susan Eilenberg: The Sins of Hester Thrale, 1 November 2001

According to Queeney 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Little, Brown, 242 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 316 85867 6
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... her general conduct to the whole family strongly savours of that nature.’ Such is the material Bainbridge draws on in composing her story. Some of it she sets forth explicitly; some of it – the odder and more arcane bits especially – she seems (inconsistently) to assume her readers will already be familiar with. Or perhaps she does not assume it. How ...

Wayne’s World

Ian Sansom, 6 July 1995

Selected Poems 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Penguin, 151 pp., £5.99, August 1994, 0 14 058735 7
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... McMillan in a review of Duffy’s last collection, Mean Time (1993). ‘True. Read. This. Book.’ Beryl Bainbridge provides the key to understanding Duffy’s popularity when she writes that ‘to me, Carol Ann Duffy’s poems are more accessible than most,’ by which she doesn’t mean that there are lots of copies in her local Waterstone’s but ...


Will Self: My Typewriters, 5 March 2015

... utter: ‘The End’ in blood-red Courier to the accompaniment of a firing squad of keystrokes. Beryl Bainbridge, who typed all her first drafts on an Imperial Good Companion (a delicious, steam-punky 1930s machine), went to her grave in 2010, preceded a year earlier by J.G. Ballard, the last writer I’d known personally – besides myself – who ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters, 25 September 2008

So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... Then there were the judgments of critics. She was compared, inevitably, with Barbara Pym and Beryl Bainbridge (the latter she thought ‘a good corrective to vanity’), and was informed by a pundit at a soirée that she had to be in Pym’s ‘group’: ‘You either have to be in hers or Beryl’s. This made me ...

The Clothed Life

Joanna Biggs: Linda Grant, 31 March 2011

We Had It So Good 
by Linda Grant.
Virago, 344 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84408 637 5
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... writer she is: ‘Liverpool has had no chronicler in literary fiction’ (she must not be counting Beryl Bainbridge), and more recently, the ‘novels I write tend to defy easy categorisation’. She is fond of tweeting aspects of her novels she says the reviewers have missed. She became ‘really interested in the Israeli story’ between 2003 and ...

Darling, are you mad?

Jenny Diski: Ghost-writing for Naim Attallah, 4 November 2004

by Jennie Erdal.
Canongate, 270 pp., £14.99, November 2004, 1 84195 562 0
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... with.She spent a few days dipping into novels – Penelope Fitzgerald, Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Beryl Bainbridge, William Trevor, Tim Parks among others – to limber up. Then she rolled up her sleeves and having extracted the technical nuts and bolts (beginning, middle, end; main and subsidiary plot and characters), wrote Naim Attallah’s novel in ...

Call Her Daisy-Ray

John Sturrock: Accents and Attitudes, 11 September 2003

Talking Proper: The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol 
by Lynda Mugglestone.
Oxford, 354 pp., £35, February 2003, 0 19 925061 8
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... of Gaston Dominici. It’s possible at those times to sympathise with the fearlessly out-of-step Beryl Bainbridge, quoted near the end of Talking Proper for demanding that elocution lessons be made compulsory, so that ‘uneducated regional accents’ might be ‘wiped out’. Lynda Mugglestone’s book was first published five years ago, but has been ...

From the Motorcoach

Stefan Collini: J.B. Priestley, 19 November 2009

English Journey 
by J.B. Priestley.
Great Northern Books, 351 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 1 905080 47 2
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... jewel. Apart from a number of prefatory pages by current admirers of Priestley such as Beryl Bainbridge and Margaret Drabble, the chief novelty of this edition is that it has been printed in large coffee-table format to accommodate the numerous photographs that have been interspersed through the text. The addition of these photos, a curious ...

On the Shelf

Tom Crewe: Beryl Bainbridge’s Beats, 7 May 2020

... Some of us​ are trapped all our lives. This is the lesson of Beryl Bainbridge’s novel Injury Time, first published in 1977. It is a sort of dinner party farce, except better. The aptly named Edward Freeman asks his friend Simpson and Simpson’s wife, Muriel, to spend the evening with him and his mistress, Binny, at Binny’s house ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... our recent fiction – most remarkably, perhaps, the novels of Peter Ackroyd, D.M. Thomas, Beryl Bainbridge, Julian Barnes and Thomas Keneally, whose Schindler’s Ark was marketed in America (under a slightly different title) as non-fiction and in Britain as a novel. Writers of light fiction, too, have added to the enrichment of their work by ...

How many gay men does it take to change an island?

James Davidson: The ancient Greek islands, 10 June 1999

... and a wealth of handsome faces drawn from the city’s gene-pool. B. is reading his beloved Beryl Bainbridge on the patio. I interrupt him to impart this interesting information. He says: ‘You’re like an open book.’ Next day the woman who cleans wants to know what the procession was like. I say I was disappointed. It was a man on a horse from ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 8 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... If Beryl Bainbridge​ had published, as her last novel, a satirical farce about the machinations behind a famous literary prize, she might have managed to weather the accusations of pique. Better yet if she had held it back for posthumous publication, to show that she could wait out her own ego. Anyone else is likely to be seen as settling a score rather than diagnosing the ills of the literary marketplace ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... Spector – but also the Duchess of Windsor, Noël Coward, Peter Stringfellow, Malcolm Sargent, Beryl Bainbridge, John Birt, Jonathan Aitken, Edward Heath et al. This isn’t just a confetti of toe-curling names. Brown catches a moment when discrete segments of society were slowly coalescing into an entity called the Media. A living collage in which ...

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