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Tea-Leafing

Duncan Campbell

19 October 1995
The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... before the beak at Old Street magistrate’s court and gets three months. A robber takes the girlfriend off to Longchamp for the weekend. A thief goes home to the wife in Up-minster. So why did BruceReynolds, a main player in this country’s robbery of the century, choose to call his book The Autobiography of a Thief ? It was, he says, a bit of homage to Jean Genet. The Thief’s Journal was ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Anna Karenina, New Puritans, Books on Cooking the Books

22 February 2001
... publicity material for Jocelyn Bain Hogg’s new book of photographs, The Firm (Westzone, £40), as one of the reasons ‘the face of the British gangster is changing.’ But Mad Frankie Fraser and BruceReynolds – both of whom have recently written memoirs – aren’t the only old crooks being forced to change their ways, if we are to believe Denise Deegan, whose Managing Activism: A Guide to ...

Brought to book

Gordon Williams

7 May 1981
Ronnie Biggs: His Own Story 
by Michael Joseph.
Sphere, 238 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 9780718119720
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A Sense of Freedom 
by Jimmy Boyle.
Pan, 264 pp., £1.25, September 1977, 0 330 25303 4
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... of old material to earn a few bob is so transparent an exercise as to become almost endearing. Good Soldier Biggs ambles from a Brixton boyhood into petty thieving and friendship with big-timer BruceReynolds, who asks him to make one for the big job because he can produce a bent train-driver: ‘I knew before the meeting that there were qualms about my being included on the job, because I was ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Hemingway the Spy

16 February 2017
... returning them, with their consent, to the countries they came from.’Very nice: ‘with their consent’. And so to Ernest Hemingway, whose adventures recorded by the military historian Nicholas Reynolds may not admit such subtlety. Reynolds is a former curator of the CIA Museum in Washington. Reasonably, the museum is a bit cagey and I am not very familiar with it but, one way and another, the ...

Dialect does it

Blake Morrison

5 December 1985
No Mate for the Magpie 
by Frances Molloy.
Virago, 170 pp., £7.95, April 1985, 0 86068 594 2
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The Mysteries 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 229 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 9780571137893
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Ukulele Music 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 103 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 40986 0
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Hard Lines 2 
edited by Ian Dury, Pete Townshend, Alan Bleasdale and Fanny Dubes.
Faber, 95 pp., £2.50, June 1985, 0 571 13542 0
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No Holds Barred: The Raving Beauties choose new poems by women 
edited by Anna Carteret, Fanny Viner and Sue Jones-Davies.
Women’s Press, 130 pp., £2.95, June 1985, 0 7043 3963 3
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Katerina Brac 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 47 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13614 1
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Skevington’s Daughter 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 88 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13697 4
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Rhondda Tenpenn’orth 
by Oliver Reynolds.
10 pence
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Trio 4 
by Andrew Elliott, Leon McAuley and Ciaran O’Driscoll.
Blackstaff, 69 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 333 4
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Mama Dot 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, August 1985, 0 7011 2957 3
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The Dread Affair: Collected Poems 
by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Arena, 112 pp., £2.95, August 1985, 9780099392507
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Long Road to Nowhere 
by Amryl Johnson.
Virago, 64 pp., £2.95, July 1985, 0 86068 687 6
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Mangoes and Bullets 
by John Agard.
Pluto, 64 pp., £3.50, August 1985, 0 7453 0028 6
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Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars 
by Ron Butlin.
Secker, 51 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 07810 4
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True Confessions and New Clichés 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 135 pp., £3.95, July 1985, 0 904919 90 0
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Works in the Inglis Tongue 
by Peter Davidson.
Three Tygers Press, 17 pp., £2.50, June 1985
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Wild Places: Poems in Three Leids 
by William Neill.
Luath, 200 pp., £5, September 1985, 0 946487 11 1
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... with Craig Raine, but the alien quality of this book lies less in faux-naif visual parallels than in the eerie detachment of the language and the strange familiarity of Brac’s landscapes. Oliver Reynolds is another Faber poet with Martian smatterings; his long opening poem, ‘Victoriana’, ends lamely in a blind alley with the image of glue globules on the pages of a book: ‘braille tracks healing ...

Kindred Spirits

Chloe Hooper: To be Tasmanian

18 August 2005
In Tasmania 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Harvill, 320 pp., £20, November 2004, 1 84343 157 2
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... By the end of this genealogical odyssey it’s as if he’s been restored to the bosom of his family. On one level this is a traditional family romance. Exhausted after finishing his biography of Bruce Chatwin, Shakespeare moved to Tasmania – a place Chatwin never visited – to make a fresh start: ‘I was at that period sick of a life already lived. I hoped never to read another old letter ...

Self-Hugging

Andrew O’Hagan: A Paean to Boswell

5 October 2000
Boswell's Presumptuous Task 
by Adam Sisman.
Hamish Hamilton, 352 pp., £17.99, November 2000, 0 241 13637 7
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’: Research Edition: Vol. II 
edited by Bruce​ Redford and Elizabeth Goldring.
Edinburgh, 303 pp., £50, February 2000, 0 7486 0606 8
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Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author 
by Lawrence Lipking.
Harvard, 372 pp., £11.50, March 2000, 0 674 00198 2
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Dr Johnson's London 
by Liza Picard.
Weidenfeld, 362 pp., £20, July 2000, 0 297 84218 8
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... mortals to mire themselves in ghastliness; it is hard to imagine, as you pass through the London of 1740-70, that this was also a place where Johnson and Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke and Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Malone, William Pitt and David Garrick could meet in the upstairs room of a pub to exchange genial perceptions on the course of the moral universe. I am pleased for Boswell, and grateful, too ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: Peace in Our Lunchtime

6 October 1994
... still, I mean, are you ...?’ ‘I’m still active, if that’s what you mean.’ He didn’t demur when I included him in a remark about Loyalist ‘operators’. In The Edge of the Union, Steve Bruce, the self-styled ‘Prods are me’ spokesman of academe, observes that ‘paramilitaries use the term “operators” to distinguish those members who have been or are prepared to be personally ...

Merry Companies

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: The Golden Age of Dutch painting

20 January 2005
Dutch 17th-century Genre Painting: Its Stylistic and Thematic Evolution 
by Wayne Franits.
Yale, 328 pp., £45, June 2004, 0 300 10237 2
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... on the perceived superiority of mental work to craftsmanship: while the Italians were credited with powers of generalising and abstracting, the Dutch were typically seen as content to engage in what Reynolds termed the ‘mere mechanical labour of copying’. Though the neoclassical hierarchy had ostensibly broken down at the beginning of the 19th century, the fierce debate that erupted when Svetlana ...

Dear Miss Boothby

Margaret Anne Doody

5 November 1992
The Letters of Samuel Johnson: Vol. I: 1731-1772, Vol. II: 1773-1776, Vol. III: 1777-1781 
edited by Bruce​ Redford.
Oxford, 431 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 19 811287 4
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... notes, then why not include comments by John Wain and W. Jackson Bate? We expect Boswell, and we get him, but sometimes nothing more when we need more. In June 1781, for instance, Johnson writes to Reynolds: ‘It was not before yesterday that I received your splendid benefaction.’ There is a long note quoting Boswell’s description in the Life of Johnson of how he came upon this letter, but there is ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’

24 January 2013
The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
by Morgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
by Andrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
by Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
by Hugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited by Michael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... suicide. The stand-in for the Titanic, the Cap Arcona, was sunk by British bombers just before the war’s end and more than four thousand people drowned. The thin-moustached villain of the film was Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line, who according to the script insisted that the ineffective Captain Smith, emblem of Britain’s exaggerated sense of its seafaring skill, drive his ship at full ...
25 January 1990
Boswell: The Great Biographer. Journals: 1789-1795 
by James Boswell, edited by Marlies Danziger and Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 432 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 434 89729 9
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... formed by that crisis. His own death from uraemia, following a venereal infection, was quiet, almost inadvertent. By now, most of his cronies are gone, or estranged. Of those that remain, Joshua Reynolds, the Shakespearian scholar Malone and the politician John Courtenay are affectionate and supportive. These were the years, as we occasionally have to remind ourselves, when his Life of Johnson was ...
6 February 2014
Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... so all the sagging wrinkles shook and said: ‘There’s me.’ At Kitaj and Sandra’s, we met a coroner, who said that there was nothing more beautiful than the naked chest of a dead young man. Bruce Chatwin needs to give the impression that he knows everything, needs to be able to tell you, when you stop with him at an antique shop window off Bond Street, what factory the tea pot came from, and ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan

7 June 2018
... he says, for that generation, the one that survived the war. One day, weeks after I started speaking to him and to people who knew him, he sent me an email after hearing an elderly classicist, Joyce Reynolds, speaking on the radio. Reynolds was born in December 1918. She is a scholar of Roman epigraphy. ‘I love her no-nonsense and no gush attitude,’ he said.When Feilding-Mellen was being roundly ...

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