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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 ...
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 ...


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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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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... Eastwick 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 ...

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 ...
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 ...


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

10 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 ...
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 ...

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 ...


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 ...


Ian Hamilton: Self-Exposure at the Football Terrace

2 September 1982
... Fraser, aged 22, and his enchanting girlfriend, still at St Paul’s. She is the daughter of Caroline (née Blackwood) by her second husband, a Polish musician. Caroline was married earlier to Lucian [sic] Freud and by her third marriage to the illustrious American poet, the late ...

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 ...

A Hammer in His Hands

Frank Kermode: Lowell’s Letters

22 September 2005
The Letters of Robert Lowell 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 852 pp., £30, July 2005, 0 571 20204 7
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... and friends, at least until the publication of The Dolphin in 1973. He was by this time married to Caroline Blackwood and living in England. The task of sorting out a large number of poems into appropriate volumes had been undertaken with the help of Frank Bidart, and those that went into The Dolphin were personal, including not only references to ...

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