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Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... Three years ago Carmen Callil, until recently powerhouse and presiding genius at the publishing house of Chatto and Windus, insisted to me at some drinks party to celebrate or drown an author’s masterpiece that it was time I wrote another novel. I hadn’t – haven’t – published one in more than a decade ...

‘Monocled Baron Charged’

David Coward: Vichy’s commissioner for Jewish affairs, 8 June 2006

Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family and Fatherland 
by Carmen Callil.
Cape, 614 pp., £20, April 2006, 0 224 07810 0
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... The seed for this book was planted in 1972, when Carmen Callil saw Le Chagrin et la pitié, Marcel Ophuls’s stunning documentary of life in Clermont-Ferrand during World War Two. Her attention was caught by a clip showing Reinhard Heydrich, architect of the Final Solution and Himmler’s deputy, shaking hands in May 1942 with Darquier de Pellepoix, charged by the German occupiers and the Vichy government with delivering France’s quota of Jews for deportation ...

Longing for Croydon

Luke Jennings, 7 February 1991

Them: Voices from the Immigrant Community in Contemporary Britain 
by Jonathon Green.
Secker, 421 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 436 20005 8
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The Golden Thread: Asian Experiences of Post-Raj Britain 
by Zerbanoo Gifford.
Pandora, 236 pp., £17.99, October 1990, 0 04 440605 3
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... crossed the line. ‘On arrival,’ writes Don Ayteo, ‘you were painfully not special.’ Like Carmen Callil, no one had the right clothes. Most were soon cold, and found the place variously grey, colourless, shabby, drab, grim, bombed-out, damp, gloomy and dirty. The more fortunate saw all that as an excitingly quaint and low-key backdrop to the ...

New Ground for the Book Trade

John Sutherland, 28 September 1989

... talent will go the same way. There is, for instance, something logical in a gifted publisher like Carmen Callil making her name in a small, independent publishing-house like Virago and then going on to tycoon status at Chatto. Author-poaching and head-hunting can be expected to create a constant updraft to the conglomerates. A parallel trend to ...

Harrison Rex

Carey Harrison, 7 November 1991

Conversations with Marlon Brando 
by Lawrence Grobel.
Bloomsbury, 177 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 9780747508168
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George Sanders: An Exhausted Life 
by Richard Vanderbeets.
Robson, 271 pp., £15.95, September 1991, 0 86051 749 7
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Rex Harrison: A Biography 
by Nicholas Wapshott.
Chatto, 331 pp., £16, October 1991, 0 7011 3764 9
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Me: Stories of my Life 
by Katharine Hepburn.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, September 1991, 0 670 83974 4
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... under Rex’s name begged the question: who was the ghost and who was the writer? On this occasion Carmen Callil has had the acumen to commission not a theatrical but a political journalist, a literate and perceptive writer little awed by tinsel yet well versed in the mutual contamination of public and private worlds. Haste to publish the book in time for ...


Patrick Hughes: What do artists do?, 24 July 1986

... cart. He was looking very closely at his white stick. Though I have found it very hard to convince Carmen Callil – who believes that, since she occasionally sees me out in the evening, I am out in the evening all day – I am actually on my own all day every day. And since I am single, this would mean all night as well if I did not go out. What do ...

Biscuits. Oh good!

Anna Vaux: Antonia White, 27 May 1999

Antonia White 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 484 pp., £20, November 1998, 9780224036191
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... a start.’ In 1979, 25 years after Beyond the Glass was published, she tried with the help of Carmen Callil to write an introduction to an edition of Frost in May which was to launch the new publishing house Virago. ‘I sat opposite her,’ Callil writes, ‘and I watched pain so great overcome her it twisted her ...


Chris Mullin: The Birmingham Bombers, 21 February 2019

... It was ten years or so before I began to investigate the matter. In the early 1980s I persuaded Carmen Callil at Chatto and Windus to commission a book on the case, but the advance was small and did not begin to fund the research necessary. In 1985, Ray Fitzwalter, the editor of ITV’s documentary series World in Action, agreed to take me on ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... Mr Nice when a jiffy bag containing a far stranger book dropped onto my mat: Pulp Election by Carmen St Keeldare. I was instantly alerted, the author’s name sounded so much like another Howard Hunt alias. I dived in and was not disappointed. This was the companion volume to the Marks autobiography. Secret State confessions recycled as gash ...

Making It Up

Raphael Samuel, 4 July 1996

Raymond Williams 
by Fred Inglis.
Routledge, 333 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 415 08960 3
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... his work, a muddled thinker, a philistine who was deaf to music and indifferent to the arts. Carmen Callil, Raymond’s publisher, is wheeled on to say that he was no novelist; Eric Bellchambers, WEA organiser in his Sussex days, remembers him as a prima donna; Jim Fyrth, an extra-mural tutor who prides himself on using ‘simple but lively ...

Was it like this for the Irish?

Gareth Peirce: The War on British Muslims, 10 April 2008

... Bouchra El-Hor, was acquitted by her jury; she had the good fortune to have as a defence witness Carmen Callil, who witheringly described the letter that El-Hor had written as a classic example of the way devout women, whether Catholic or Quaker, Puritan or Muslim, experiment with creative writing as a means of expression while living isolated ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... affectionate, and full of great table talk and funny stories from Carter’s ‘flotillas’ – Carmen Callil’s word – of famous friends. That happens when a well-liked person dies before their time, especially when the death has the long lead-in afforded by cancer treatment, and when they leave a younger partner and small child. It’s probably ...


Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments, 8 August 2002

Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... it would help.’ In the end, for all her anti-feminism, it was the sisters who saved her. Carmen Callil’s newly founded publishing house, Virago, managed to wrest her work from Collins and relaunched her as a Modern Classic. Lehmann, a better judge of women than men, adored Callil. In very old age she took to ...

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