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Diary

Charles Osborne: Arts Council Subsidies

7 June 1984
... A few weeks ago, in New York, I accompanied a friend on a shopping expedition. While we were in a novelty gift shop on Columbus Avenue, she bought me a rubber stamp which she said I’d find useful when I got back to my Arts Council office in London. I know what she means, though, in fact, I’ve found myself using it, not on office memos (strong at times though the temptation has been), but on press ...

Taking sides

Karl Miller

17 April 1980
W.H. Auden: The Life of a Poet 
by Charles Osborne.
Eyre Methuen, 336 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 413 39670 3
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... In 1960, Auden completed his third decade as a poet with the volume Homage to Clio. By then, CharlesOsborne writes, he was ‘widely regarded as among the few really great poets of the century’. No slur on the century seems intended here: part of what we mean by talking of great poets is that there are ...

Verdi’s Views

John Rosselli

29 October 1987
Verdi: A Life in the Theatre 
by Charles Osborne.
Weidenfeld, 360 pp., £18, June 1987, 0 297 79117 6
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... correspondence with his publisher (not yet in print as a whole, but available to scholars) tell us a good deal about the progress of his work and his passing moods. All this makes it possible for CharlesOsborne to organise his new biography round generous quotations from the letters (some of which he has previously translated and published in a separate volume). It makes a readable narrative, packed ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council

4 December 1986
... mass rallies in Hyde Park. The appeal to popular sentiment is used only when it seems convenient. The failure of the Council’s literature policies cannot be attributed to popular opinion. Since CharlesOsborne was for a long time the director of the Literature Department, we might expect to find the true explanation of its demise in his memoirs, the first fruits of his leisure in early retirement ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1990

24 January 1991
... with the new President of Czechoslovakia. I envy him, though. What a relief to find oneself Head of State and not to have to write plays – just make history. And no Czechoslovak equivalent of CharlesOsborne snapping at your ankles complaining that the history you’re making falls between every possible stool, or some Prague Steven Berkoff snarling that it’s not the kind of history that’s ...

Big Fish

Frank Kermode

9 September 1993
Tell Them I’m on my Way 
by Arnold Goodman.
Chapmans, 464 pp., £20, August 1993, 1 85592 636 9
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Not an Englishman: Conversations with Lord Goodman 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 237 pp., £17.99, August 1993, 1 85619 365 9
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... White fades into a muffled tribute, rather more in the mode of the speech Goodman made at White’s retirement dinner, though of course on such occasions one is not on oath. White’s successor was CharlesOsborne, whose sins as assistant director Goodman here attributes to the influence of White, though I very much doubt if Osborne, who has always known how to look after himself, would agree. The ...

Clues

J.I.M. Stewart

5 May 1983
A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... output and was more highly regarded by himself. I rather think not. The romantic stories about Brigadier Gerard still make lively reading, but elsewhere there is little that wears particularly well. CharlesOsborne’s labours on behalf of Agatha Christie are almost as exhaustive as Mr Edwards’s on behalf of Conan Doyle. Again there is a striking title. There is an even more striking dust-cover: this ...

I am a cactus

John Sutherland: Christopher Isherwood and his boys

3 June 2004
Isherwood 
by Peter Parker.
Picador, 914 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 330 48699 3
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... of their sexual preference for boys. Going to bed together over the years, Isherwood said, ‘kept an adolescent quality in our relationship alive’. In his biography of the recently deceased Auden, CharlesOsborne claimed that while at Oxford he had slept with Spender, at a period when the younger man was still a ‘verger’ – gang-speak for ‘virgin’. The allegation was indignantly denied. Nor ...
16 October 1997
The Royals 
by Kitty Kelley.
Warner, 547 pp., $27, September 1997, 0 446 51712 7
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... throne’. Think of George III and Charlotte, with their large, playful, gurgling brood, immortalised in Zoffany’s delightful conversation pieces. Think of Victoria and Albert, happily ensconced at Osborne, all Gemütlichkeit and Christmas trees, with Landseer and Winterhalter conveniently to hand to paint them. Think of George V and Queen Mary, an inseparable couple, who did so much to uphold decent ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories

26 April 2007
... issues ranging from civil liberties to aviation, Labour has assailed the Conservatives from the right: ‘If they are helping us define ourselves on the centre ground of British politics,’ George Osborne, Cameron’s right-hand man and shadow chancellor, told the Times in September, ‘then thank you very much, Tony Blair.’ And, to borrow the Blair model, Cameron is still at the Bambi stage of ...

In Russell Square

Peter Campbell: Exploring Bloomsbury

30 November 2006
... trim. Would it be better if more of the original buildings still stood? If it was still recognisably as Thackeray imagined it when, in Vanity Fair, he set the early prosperity of the Sedley and Osborne families there, and later made it the scene of the sale that followed John Sedley’s bankruptcy, the sale at which Becky Sharp was outbid by Captain Dobbin for Amelia’s little square piano ...

The Last Intellectual

Rosemary Hill: The Queen Mother’s Letters

6 December 2012
Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother 
edited by William Shawcross.
Macmillan, 666 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 230 75496 6
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... lost more than a husband, she had lost her occupation. In the 1930s she described herself as an ‘anti-feminist’ believing that jobs should go to men and writing airily to her old friend D’Arcy Osborne that ‘women can be idle quite happily – they can spend hours trying their hair in new ways & making last year’s black coat into this year’s jumper.’ Osborne, no sycophant, wrote back drily ...
6 March 2014
In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... 1770-82) and a new ministry was formed out of North’s various critics, bringing together the Rockinghamites (nominally headed by the Marquess of Rockingham, but whose effective leader was Charles James Fox) and the followers of Lord Shelburne. This ministry was riddled with dispute, and on Rockingham’s death in the summer of 1782 the Foxites abandoned Shelburne’s new government, which ...
23 July 1992
Goodstone 
by Fred Voss.
Bloodaxe, 180 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 1 85224 198 5
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... anthology A Geography of Poets makes clear, Ginsberg’s influence within California is largely confined to San Francisco and the north. To the south, and in Los Angeles, the dominant figure is Charles Bukowski. Bukowski has spent the last 35 years giving expression to the experience of the American down-and-out. Typically his poems take place in a bar, or a bedsit, or at a race-track, involve ...
11 January 1990
King George VI 
by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 506 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 297 79667 4
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... a quite exceptional sense of family duty. Physically weedy – he had to wear splints for knock knees – and disabled by his stammer, he was bullied as a Naval cadet and came bottom of his class at Osborne. He lived always in the shadow of his glamorous and favoured elder brother. Yet as he grew up he accepted his humbler role in the royal pageant and discharged it diligently and loyally. Despite ill ...

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