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Kiss Count

John Campbell, 19 April 1984

Speak for yourself: A Mass-Observation Anthology 1937-1949 
edited by Angus Calder and Dorothy Sheridan.
Cape, 272 pp., £12.50, March 1984, 0 224 02102 8
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Voices: 1870-1914 
by Peter Vansittart.
Cape, 292 pp., £9.95, April 1984, 0 224 02103 6
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... conservative.Mass Observation was a quintessentially Thirties idea. Its two principal founders, Charles Madge and Tom Harrisson, were Cambridge drop-outs and (Madge more seriously than Harrisson) poets. Madge (‘a rather inactive Communist’) was interested in the random ...

The Welfare State Intelligentsia

R.E. Pahl, 17 June 1982

Inner-City Poverty in Paris and London 
by Peter Willmott and Charles Madge.
Routledge, 146 pp., £8.50, August 1981, 0 7100 0819 8
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The Inner City in Context 
edited by Peter Hall.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 435 35718 2
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New Perspectives in Urban Change and Conflict 
edited by Michael Harloe.
Heinemann, 265 pp., £15, December 1981, 9780435824044
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The Politics of Poverty 
by David Donnison.
Martin Robertson, 239 pp., £9.95, December 1981, 0 85520 481 8
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The Politics of Poverty 
by Susanne MacGregor.
Longman, 193 pp., £2.95, November 1981, 0 582 29524 6
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... various ways, throw light on the issue of whether ameliorism worked. Did the experts do any good? Charles Madge and Peter Willmott compare Inner-City Poverty in Paris and London, Peter Hall edits an SSRC Working Party’s Reports on The Inner City in Context, Michael Harloe, in New Perspectives in Urban Change and Conflict, edits papers given at the ...


Tim Hilton: Art Talk, 19 November 1992

... a volume written as an exercise in academic sociology. This was Art Students Observed (1973), by Charles Madge and Barbara Weinberger, part of Faber’s Society Today and Tomorrow series. The authors’ research was funded by the Social Science Research Council. One suspects that Madge took the leading role in the ...

Sam, Caroline, Janet, Stella, Len, Helen and Bob

Susan Pedersen: Mass Observation, 21 September 2017

Seven Lives from Mass Observation: Britain in the Late 20th Century 
by James Hinton.
Oxford, 207 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 19 878713 6
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... brainchild of the charismatic ornithologist turned anthropologist Tom Harrisson, the Marxist poet Charles Madge and (briefly) the experimental filmmaker Humphrey Jennings. It attempted to create ‘an anthropology of ourselves’ by ‘observing’ ordinary Britons as they went about their ordinary lives – and by enlisting those same people as diarists ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet, 3 March 2005

Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... power. Jennings’s conception of Mass-Observation, like that of his friend and fellow founder Charles Madge, was broadly Surrealist. The project began at the end of 1936 with a letter Madge wrote to the New Statesman arguing that the abdication crisis and the burning down of the Crystal Palace had produced a ...

The Savage Life

Frank Kermode: The Adventures of William Empson, 19 May 2005

William Empson: Vol. I: Among the Mandarins 
by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 695 pp., £30, April 2005, 0 19 927659 5
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... very much, but he was not idling. He was quite heavily involved with Mass Observation, and so with Charles Madge and Kathleen Raine, Humphrey Jennings and Julian Trevelyan. In 1935 he published both his Poems and his second important work of literary criticism, Some Versions of Pastoral. In August 1937 he set out on another Oriental adventure when he ...

No reason for not asking

Adam Phillips: Empson’s War on God, 3 August 2006

Selected Letters of William Empson 
edited by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 729 pp., £40, March 2006, 0 19 928684 1
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... ordinary reader. ‘The point about writing as plainly as you can,’ Empson wrote to his friend Charles Madge in 1937, ‘is that you are testing your ideas against somebody who is not a specialist and just knows about life in general. Really subjective writing seems to me to be nasty to touch.’ The writer can’t be servile but he must be ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... were among her conquests); and the brittle yet pioneering British fashion editor and stylesetter Madge Garland (1898-1990). Cohen’s account of their richly oxymoronic erotic lives – lives at once hard to see and hard to miss, archly recondite and recklessly available – will no doubt confound Poet Ladies everywhere. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be ...

Lost Daughters

Tessa Hadley: Kate Atkinson’s latest, 23 September 2004

Case Histories: A Novel 
by Kate Atkinson.
Doubleday, 304 pp., £16.99, September 2004, 0 385 60799 7
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... Jane Eyre) to omniscient overview, swallowing generations and decades in disrespectful summary: ‘Madge had escaped long ago by marrying an adulterous bank clerk in Mirfield and producing another three children.’ Behind the Scenes at the Museum begins, in homage to Tristram Shandy, with Ruby Lennox’s conception; from her mother’s womb, she offers an ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... occupied a senior role at Maison Worth, the French fashion house opened by an Englishman, Charles Frederick Worth (a Galliano avant la lettre), though that wasn’t until after her time at Vogue. Worth plays an important part in the Vogue story, though, and in the story of fashion altogether. Le Grand Worth, the first couture auteur, started the ...

Etheric Vibrations

E.S. Turner: Marie Corelli, 29 July 1999

The Mysterious Marie Corelli: Queen of Victorian Bestsellers 
by Teresa Ransom.
Sutton, 247 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 7509 1570 6
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... was mocked by the critics was her lack of discrimination. In some ways she resembled ‘Mad Madge’, the Duchess of Newcastle of Pepys’s day, a literary fantasist who was not above putting herself into her scripts. A Victorian editor said that the Duchess’s exuberant fancy was ‘ruined by deficient culture, by literary dissipation and the absence ...

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