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Jenny Diski: Caroline Blackwood, 18 October 2001

Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood 
by Nancy Schoenberger.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £20, June 2001, 0 297 84101 7
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... At the age of 86 and with a broken hip, the Marchesa Casa-Maury was interviewed by Caroline Blackwood for her book about the last dreadful days – months, years rather – of the Duchess of Windsor. The Marchesa had been the Duke’s mistress for fifteen years when Wallis Simpson arrived on the scene. Blackwood explained to the old lady how the Duchess was being sequestered in Paris by her lawyer, Maître Suzanne Blum, who was obsessed with her, and that she was officiously being kept alive, although rumoured to be comatose, to have turned black and to have shrivelled to the size of a doll ...

Arsenals

Nicholas Spice, 18 October 1984

On the Perimeter: Caroline Blackwood at Greenham Common 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Heinemann, 113 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 434 07468 3
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The Witches of Eastwick 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 316 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 233 97665 5
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Corrigan 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Heinemann, 279 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 434 07467 5
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According to Mark 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 218 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 9780434427420
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... through the potency of John Updike’s imaginative release. On the Perimeter records what Caroline Blackwood found at Greenham Common and in the town of Newbury, when she visited the nuclear protest encampments there in March this year, shortly before the town council attempted to evict the women for good. One of the incidents ...

The Lady Vanishes

Zoë Heller, 20 July 1995

The Last of the Duchess 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £16.99, April 1995, 0 333 63062 9
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... more drastically than Mary Queen of Scots, or Joan of Arc, or even Margaret Thatcher, then perhaps Caroline Blackwood’s recycled revelations about the Duchess – her expertise at fellatio, her 22 carat gold bath-tub at Cap d’Antibes, the amusing tricks that her homosexual lover, the Woolworth heir Jimmy Donahue, liked to perform with his penis at ...

Guilty Men

Michael Neve, 5 March 1981

The Fate of Mary Rose 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Cape, 208 pp., £5.95, February 1981, 0 224 01791 8
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Darling, you shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble 
by Caroline Blackwood and Anna Haycraft.
Cape, 224 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 224 01834 5
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... Few authors in recent fiction have addressed themselves to the universal family romance with Caroline Blackwood’s bleakness. In her previous novels, The Stepdaughter and Great Granny Webster, the outlines of parental tyranny, of domination and resistance, were memorably etched. Mum and Dad could fuck you up in the simplest of ways – by simply ...

Bananas Book

Eric Korn, 22 November 1979

Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... him.) Suspicion, once sown, is hard to uproot. Beverly Treasure? Chelsea Herbert? Lloriston Grant? Caroline Blackwood and Robert Lowell have a conversation about Ford Madox Ford? (Well, all right, but what’s it doing among ‘Traveller’s Tales’?)Chelsea Herbert is real too, and writes the best piece in the ‘Children in the City’ section: a ...

Quarrelling

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 29 October 1987

Tears before Bedtime 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12326 7
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In the Pink 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Bloomsbury, 164 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 7475 0050 9
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... didn’t hog all the paper and pencils. Connolly, his former wife reports, was keen on the young Caroline Blackwood, though Ian Fleming said, in his ‘blokey’ way, that she needed ‘a damned good scrub’, and Quennell lamented the state of her fingernails. Ms Blackwood, who, both in her novels and in her ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Lucian Freud, 25 July 2002

... and confinement: the chill Hotel Bedroom in which the painter stands silhouetted above his wife (Caroline Blackwood at that time) on the bed; the bleak room in Paddington where Harry Diamond stands truculently in his mac by the window. One knows the rooms which have served as studios both from the landmarks that reappear in picture after picture (the ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again, 11 August 2016

Robert Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... three times: to Jean Stafford from 1940 to 1948, to Elizabeth Hardwick from 1949 to 1972 and to Caroline Blackwood from 1972 to his death in 1977. With Hardwick he had a daughter, Harriet, and with Blackwood a son, Sheridan; he was also stepfather to Blackwood’s three ...

Falling in love with Lucian

Colm Tóibín: Lucian Freud’s Outer Being, 10 October 2019

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, 1922-68 
by William Feaver.
Bloomsbury, 680 pp., £35, September 2019, 978 1 4088 5093 0
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... the way his stomach protruded, Freud ‘thought I’d better emphasise it more’. Freud​ met Caroline Blackwood at a party in 1949 when she was 18. Three years later, he painted her portrait. Just as John Minton had commented when Freud painted him, Caroline, of whom Freud did a series of portraits, remembered ...

Seriously ugly

Gabriele Annan, 11 January 1990

Weep no more 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 166 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 241 12200 7
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... too much housework, too little money, too little space, and besides, Connolly developed a crush on Caroline Blackwood and wasn’t particularly nice to Skelton when she came out of hospital after an unsuccessful operation to enable her to conceive. Coatis and Abyssinian cats took the place of the children she couldn’t have and were much dreaded by ...

Wobble in My Mind

Colm Tóibín: Lizzie, Cal and Caroline, 7 May 2020

The Dolphin Letters, 1970-79: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell and Their Circle 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 560 pp., £35, January, 978 0 571 35741 3
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The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972-73 
by Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., £11.99, December 2019, 978 0 374 53827 9
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... arrived in England he went to a party given by Faber, his publishers. Among the other guests was Caroline Blackwood, 38 at the time and the mother of three daughters. Blackwood told Lowell’s biographer, Ian Hamilton, that after the party Lowell moved into her London house – ‘I mean instantly, that night.’On 27 ...

Follow-the-Leader

Colm Tóibín: Bishop v. Lowell, 14 May 2009

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell 
edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 875 pp., £40, November 2008, 978 0 571 24308 2
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... letters written to Lowell by Elizabeth Hardwick, his wife of many years, after he left her for Caroline Blackwood, Bishop could not contain herself. In some of the sonnets, Hardwick’s letters were in quotation marks: ‘I love you, Darling, there’s a black black void, as black as night without you. I long to see your face or hear your voice, and ...

The Duckworth School of Writers

Frank Kermode, 20 November 1980

Human Voices 
by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 177 pp., £5.25, September 1980, 0 00 222280 9
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Winter Garden 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 157 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7156 1495 9
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... choice and handling of themes. Mrs Fitzgerald used to be published by Duckworth, as were or are Caroline Blackwood, Alice Thomas Ellis and Beryl Bainbridge: all practise surprise and cultivate oddly-angled observation. There remains a certain strained resemblance between Fitzgerald and Bainbridge, though the latter is less elegant and altogether more ...

Firm Lines

Hermione Lee, 17 November 1983

Bartleby in Manhattan, and Other Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick.
Weidenfeld, 292 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 297 78357 2
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... from Lowell’s The Dolphin (1973), which uses her letters to him after he left her for Caroline Blackwood in 1970, and now from Ian Hamilton’s biography of Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick’s own experience of loving, living with, and being left by a great writer. But, as she says of Jane Carlyle, ‘the tone of her letters is guarded and her ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip, 20 April 2017

Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... the fact that Lowell’s arms had to be broken in hospital to release the Freud painting of Caroline Blackwood (Calypso) he had been clutching when he died in a taxi between JFK and West 67th Street, where Elizabeth Hardwick (Penelope) was waiting for him. The myth that poets are aristocrats of the literary world, that their deaths are caviar for ...

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