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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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... might threaten, could easily induce an attitude which was in effect quite apolitical, or positively conservative.Mass Observation was a quintessentially Thirties idea. Its two principal founders, CharlesMadge and Tom Harrisson, were Cambridge drop-outs and (Madge more seriously than Harrisson) poets. Madge (‘a rather inactive Communist’) was interested in the random association of Surrealism ...

Diary

Tim Hilton: Art Talk

19 November 1992
... what we do. It’s a disturbing fact that there is only one book about a modern British art school, a volume written as an exercise in academic sociology. This was Art Students Observed (1973), by CharlesMadge 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 ...
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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... in mind that one comes to a cluster of books published at the beginning of the 1980s which, in their various ways, throw light on the issue of whether ameliorism worked. Did the experts do any good? CharlesMadge 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 ...
20 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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... Mass Observation​ was the brainchild of the charismatic ornithologist turned anthropologist Tom Harrisson, the Marxist poet CharlesMadge 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 – ...

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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... with Eliot and John Hayward. He claimed that in these Marchmont years he was enjoying himself very much, but he was not idling. He was quite heavily involved with Mass Observation, and so with CharlesMadge 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 ...

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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... they are Surreal, too, in their startling evocations of the violent processes and effects of machine power. Jennings’s conception of Mass-Observation, like that of his friend and fellow founder CharlesMadge, 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 ...

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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... Hollywood screenwriter, memoirist and seductress extraordinaire (Garbo and Dietrich and Isadora Duncan 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 ...

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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... God again here setting the bad example – has to sustain themselves with the idea of the interested ordinary reader. ‘The point about writing as plainly as you can,’ Empson wrote to his friend CharlesMadge 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 ...
4 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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... and new dresses from Paris were kept wrapped in their boxes for two years. Muir says that Champcommunal 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 ...

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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... from the confessional intimacy of an inner voice (derived from every misunderstood girl since 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 ...

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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... with the arch-seducer Adolphe Menjou and the arch-vamp Theda Bara. Among the faults for which Marie Corelli 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 ...

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