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My Little Lollipop

Jenny Diski: Christine Keeler, 22 March 2001

The Truth at Last: My Story 
by Christine Keeler and Douglas Thompson.
Sidgwick, 279 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 0 283 07291 1
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... Christine Keeler votes Conservative. She would, wouldn’t she? Having seen off the Macmillan Government in the 1960s, exposed the squalid underbelly of upper-class public life and fired the starting pistol to begin the sexual revolution by revealing that ‘You’ve never had it so good’ was actually ‘You’ve never had it so often,’ she reckons she knows what’s what about the world of politics and power (though sex and men are not really her thing ...

Poor Stephen

James Fox, 23 July 1987

An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... with friends and support. The real scandal was not what Profumo did – having had the affair with Christine Keeler, he judged that he could lie his way out of it, and had it not been for her greed and scattiness, he might have done so – but how Stephen Ward was framed. Both of these books give a powerful description of the swift workings of the ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... osteopath, Stephen Ward, ‘the Doctor’ of the quadrilateral, and the exceptionally pretty Christine Keeler. Profumo, as he later put it, ‘was extremely taken by Christine, whom I thought was Ward’s girlfriend, but he did not seem to be particularly possessive about her’. That same weekend Jack also met ...

Holding all the strings

Ian Gilmour, 27 July 1989

Macmillan. Vol. II: 1957-1986 
by Alistair Horne.
Macmillan, 741 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 333 49621 3
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... was a security risk. Mr Profumo was inexcusably at fault in lying about his association with Christine Keeler. But of all the lies that have been told in the House of Commons, Jack Profumo’s denial of any ‘impropriety’ with Miss Keeler was surely the most trivial. Yet it had massive repercussions and did ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair, 21 February 2013

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... confessed to the House of Commons that he had lied about the nature of his relationship with Christine Keeler. After Profumo’s resignation, there were two further, short-lived secretaries of state for war (Joseph Godber and James Ramsden). Within a year Harold Wilson’s incoming Labour government had abolished the post altogether, amalgamating ...

In Memoriam

Paul Sieghart, 19 March 1981

by Mandy Rice-Davies and Shirley Flack.
Joseph, 224 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 7181 1974 6
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... The salient facts were simple enough. John Profumo, then Minister for War, had a brief affair with Christine Keeler, a chum of Rice-Davies’s. Unbeknown to him, she had also been to bed (or so she later said) with one Eugene Ivanov, then a Soviet naval attaché in London. Profumo had met Keeler through Dr Stephen ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 7 September 2017

... carnival-masked Soldiers at Rye of 1941, Lewis Morley’s 1965 photograph of Joe Orton in Christine Keeler pose, and Orton and Kenneth Halliwell’s scurrilously rectified library books, for which they went to jail. By the end of the show – stills from Basil Dearden’s film Victim (1961), pages from postwar physique mags – the legislative ...

Mother Punk

Zoë Heller: Vivienne Westwood, 10 December 1998

Vivienne Westwood: An Unfashionable Life 
by Jane Mulvagh.
HarperCollins, 402 pp., £19.99, September 1998, 0 00 255625 1
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... Seventies bore a printed list of people and things divided into two columns of Loves and Hates: Christine Keeler, Ronnie Biggs, Joe Orton in the former; Bianca Jagger, Vogue, the suburbs and so on in the latter. McLaren understood such lists to be playful, provisional. Westwood did not. She was never quite in step with her boyfriend’s nimble ...

Taunted with the Duke of Kent, she married the Aga Khan

Rosemary Hill: Coming Out, 19 October 2006

Last Curtsey: The End of the Debutantes 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 305 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 571 22859 3
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... school of documentary history, where a procession of angry young men streams past, followed by Christine Keeler and the cast of Beyond the Fringe, to a soundtrack of Buddy Holly and the Beatles. Last Curtsey deals in the historical reality of mixed feelings and cultural collisions. The debs who appeared at the Berkeley Dress Show modelling cocktail ...

Boulevard Brogues

Rosemary Hill: Having your grouse and eating it, 13 May 1999

Girlitude: A Memoir of the Fifties and Sixties 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1999, 0 224 05952 1
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... her to be part of the satire boom, and its ‘sudden, unblinking stare at reality’. Private Eye, Christine Keeler, That Was the Week that Was all duly happen, but Tennant is not, as she imagines, ‘by proxy a satirist’ herself, for inevitably the jokes are, literally, at her expense. Satirists, she discovers, are not very nice people. They are ...

The Collage Police

Christian Lorentzen: Ali Smith, 8 March 2018

by Ali Smith.
Penguin, 272 pp., £8.99, August 2017, 978 0 241 97331 8
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by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 336 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 241 20702 4
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... acquaintance of Boty’s and a collector of her collages. He thinks back on the Profumo affair and Christine Keeler, subject of Boty’s lost painting Scandal ’63. His memories, which stretch back before the Second World War, are the historical elements of Smith’s collage and serve as reminders that times have been worse than they were in ...

Larkin was right, more or less

Michael Mason, 5 June 1997

Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain 1860-1940 
by Simon Szreter.
Cambridge, 704 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 521 34343 7
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... than any of the popular demonising accounts of 20th-century sexuality before P.J. Proby and Christine Keeler. His book may be thought of as an ‘anti-1911’ text in three respects: ‘1911’ in the narrow sense of the fertility census is debunked on both ideological and statistical grounds; but Szreter would also like to draw a radical corollary ...

Seventy Years in a Colourful Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: The Soho Alphabet, 16 July 2020

Tales from the Colony Room: Soho’s Lost Bohemia 
by Darren Coffield.
Unbound, 364 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78352 816 5
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... found Nina Hamnett next to Louis MacNeice, the maharajah of Cooch Behar next to Joan Littlewood, Christine Keeler taking advice from Lord Goodman or conversing with Leonard Blackett (the Military Cross-winning hero of the Somme – ‘she was a brave little soldier’). E.M. Forster talked to Donald Maclean, who is believed to have spent his last night ...

This Sporting Life

R.W. Johnson, 8 December 1994

Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... of the five ministers selected to check whether John Profumo was lying about his relationship with Christine Keeler, Macleod distinguished himself by avoiding his colleagues’ ponderous circumlocutions. ‘Look, Jack,’ he said, ‘the basic question is: “Did you fuck her?” ’ Sadly, Profumo continued to try to lie his way out with mealy-mouthed ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... victim who has just dropped from the top of the Post Office Tower with her beehive as a parachute. Christine Keeler, Paul Raymond, Malcolm Allison. The Society Restaurant, The Colony Club. Crisp white linen and more bottles than the bottling-plant at Truman’s Brewery. James Booth and Victor Spinetti semaphoring idiotically in the corner of the frame, as ...

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