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Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox, 6 November 1980

by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... Why did the most beautiful and adored of early movie queens walk out at the height of her career and become a virtual recluse? Alexander Walker treats Garbo as a mystery to which he at last can offer an answer. Indifference to the prize, he says; the same detachment that enabled her, at 20 and just arrived in Hollywood, with little English, to defy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the most powerful of Hollywood studios, and win ...

As time goes by

Brenda Maddox, 2 July 1981

Ingrid Bergman: My Story 
by Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess.
Joseph, 480 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7181 1946 0
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... There is a kind of woman who refuses dessert and then reaches over with her fork and eats most of her husband’s. Does it tell us something about Miss Bergman’s capacity for self-deception that she could neither leave Alan Burgess alone to write her biography nor sit down and write her own? Instead, they did it together, the actress and the author ...

Rosy Revised

Robert Olby: Rosalind Franklin, 20 March 2003

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA 
by Brenda Maddox.
HarperCollins, 380 pp., £20, June 2002, 0 00 257149 8
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... of the Nobel Prize, who carried out their DNA research in the College’s biophysics unit. Brenda Maddox calls this ‘a genuflection bordering on political correctness’. In The Double Helix (1968) James Watson makes clear his personal view of how science should best be done: in a spirit of rivalry and competition, and not one of consensus as to ...

Made in Heaven

Frank Kermode, 10 November 1994

Frieda Lawrence 
by Rosie Jackson.
Pandora, 240 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 9780044409151
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The Married Man: A Life of D.H. Lawrence 
by Brenda Maddox.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 631 pp., £20, August 1994, 1 85619 243 1
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by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce Steele.
Cambridge, 493 pp., £60, August 1994, 0 521 38455 9
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Twilight in Italy and Other Essays 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Paul Eggert.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £55, August 1994, 0 521 26888 5
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... while contriving at the same time to find them both wonderful in their way, as partners in what Brenda Maddox, admittedly a less fervent partisan of Frieda, calls ‘a mismatch made in heaven’. At some early moment in the gestation of her book Ms Maddox must have looked at the shelf-loads I described earlier and ...

Angering and Agitating

Christopher Turner: Freud’s fan club, 30 November 2006

Freud’s Wizard: The Enigma of Ernest Jones 
by Brenda Maddox.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 7195 6792 0
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... learn to slither,’ he advised, ‘is really the art of falling on the ice.’ Brenda Maddox suggests that these words ‘might have served Jones as his life’s motto’: his career was full of spectacular flops from which he rose unscathed. Though Maddox is too generous to interpret her motto in ...

tarry easty

Roy Foster: Joyce in Trieste, 30 November 2000

The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste 1904-20 
by John McCourt.
Lilliput, 306 pp., £25, June 2000, 1 901866 45 9
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... by observers like Wyndham Lewis as Italian, was actually Triestino. The dismissive tone in which Brenda Maddox and others refer to the city does it scant justice, as McCourt points out. It had a vibrant theatrical and musical culture: on just one night in 1905 citizens had to choose between Elenora Duse in La Moglie di Claudio and Mahler conducting ...

Leave off saying I want you to be savages

Sandra Gilbert: D.H. Lawrence, 19 March 1998

D.H. Lawrence: Dying Game 1922-30 
by David Ellis.
Cambridge, 814 pp., £25, January 1998, 0 521 25421 3
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... such different consequences? In 1909 Ford would certainly have said as much, for at that point, as Brenda Maddox notes in her biography, he considered Lawrence a representative of ‘the completely different race of the English artisan ... a race as sharply divided from the ruling or even the mere white-collar classes as was the Negro from the gentry of ...


Iain Sinclair: Out of Essex, 8 January 2004

... of Lucia’s difficulties, too. Joyce persuaded her to design ‘elaborate initial letters’ (as Brenda Maddox puts it in her biography of Nora Joyce) for his 1927 collection, Pomes Penyeach. The experience proved stressful and unfulfilling and the agony was compounded by work on another Joyce-inspired alphabet project, the Chaucer ABC. ...


Ruth Dudley Edwards: The Biographer’s Dilemma, 1 September 1988

... Brenda Maddox’s enjoyable biography of Nora Joyce left me worrying about two questions.* Did her subject warrant 526 pages? And was the great Richard Ellmann, along with other scholars, guilty of gross invasion of privacy when he published James Joyce’s coprophiliac letters to Nora? Both these questions are of personal significance for me ...

Seeing in the Darkness

James Wood, 6 March 1997

D.H. Lawrence: Triumph To Exile 1912-22 
by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 943 pp., £25, August 1996, 0 521 25420 5
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... But repetition is certainly a style, and a style of control. He is not just stuttering. Yet Brenda Maddox is typical of many commentators when she hints, in her acclaimed biography of 1994, D.H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage, that it was hardly a style at all: ‘Whether such passages echo the hypnotic refrains of the chapel hymns of his ...

A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?, 20 February 2003

Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... at times verging on the unreadable, offers a more taxing version of the life of Mrs Yeats than Brenda Maddox’s George’s Ghosts (1999), but it does not solve the mysteries surrounding the relationship between Yeats’s marriage and his work: it makes them instead more fascinating and more open to different readings and interpretations. George ...

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