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Diary

Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED

20 April 1989
... to add that the same author wrote two books, one enormous, about D.H. Lawrence, and also fathered Claire Tomalin.) Since 1968, algorithm has also had a medical sense meaning a sort of diagnostic flow-chart. There is no mention here of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, in which the word is famously used or abused. How we did without it for so long is a ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday 

27 May 1993
... life of Sylvia Plath, Alison Lurie’s obituary of Mary McCarthy, Salman Rushdie on Graham Greene, Claire Tomalin on Coleridge, Anthony Burgess on Fielding, other reviews by Anita Brookner, Peter Conrad, Roy Foster and Hilary Mantel), and as the limits on the new paper’s resources became apparent I thought how hard it would be to put together pages of ...

Tantrums

C.K. Stead

22 February 1996
Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont and Fanny Imlay Godwin 
edited by Marion Kingston Stocking.
Johns Hopkins, 704 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 8018 4633 1
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... Claire Clairmont was, briefly, Byron’s mistress, and the mother of his child Allegra. But was she also Shelley’s lover? Did she become pregnant by him? Did she give birth to his child? From the journals, edited by Marion Kingston Stocking and published in 1986, it seems clear that she was in love with Shelley at the age of 16 ...

A Little Local Irritation

Stephen Wall: Dickens

16 April 1998
The Letters of Charles Dickens. Vol. IX: 1859-61 
edited by Graham Storey.
Oxford, 610 pp., £70, July 1997, 0 19 812293 4
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... they passed to Ellen when she was 21. The Pilgrim editors summarise and endorse the case made by Claire Tomalin in her biography of Ternan and by other scholars that Dickens put up the money. He also wrote to theatre managers in London and Paris to try and advance the performing careers of Fanny and Maria Ternan. When he has doubts about accepting a ...

After-Lives

John Sutherland

5 November 1992
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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Trollope 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... that descends through Thomas Wright and Katherine Longley to our contemporaries Peter Ackroyd and Claire Tomalin. In his chapter on James Joyce Hamilton dwells exclusively on the author’s ‘patron saint’, Harriet Weaver. Surprisingly – for a study whose main concern is the suppression or revelation of intimate materials – he does not discuss the ...
3 February 2011
The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth 
by Lillian Nayder.
Cornell, 359 pp., £22.95, December 2010, 978 0 8014 4787 7
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... It doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that he could treat women badly. Twenty years ago, Claire Tomalin made his hypocrisies apparent in The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, an account of Nelly’s struggles as the illicit lover of the nation’s celebrated defender of domestic virtue. ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh

7 November 2019
A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... his friend Henry Porter, who was working on the Sunday Times, sent him a letter apparently from Claire Tomalin, the paper’s literary editor, asking him to review Mae West Is Dead, Adam Mars-Jones’s selection of lesbian and gay fiction, adding that she would ‘expect a generous piece’. Waugh duly relayed this breach of professional etiquette to ...

How does he come to be mine?

Tim Parks: Dickens’s Children

8 August 2013
Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 239 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 0 374 29880 7
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... six at the time) and frowning on every contact between them and her. In Charles Dickens: A Life, Claire Tomalin remarks, ‘The spectacle of a man famous for his goodness and his attachment to domestic virtues suddenly losing his moral compass is dismaying,’ to the point, she adds, that ‘you want to avert your eyes.’ Gottlieb is just as uneasy ...

Matrioshki

Craig Raine

13 June 1991
Constance Garnett: A Heroic Life 
by Richard Garnett.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 402 pp., £20, March 1991, 1 85619 033 1
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... Katherine Mansfield’s ‘plagiarism’ of this story (a transgression for which, according to Claire Tomalin, she was blackmailed by her former lover, Florian Sobienowski) differs dramatically from the Garnett version. Whereas Garnett is everything a good translator should be, the ideal blend of saint and valet. Mansfield obtrudes everywhere, as an ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005

5 January 2006
... for my political views. I am an old modernian. 26 October. An interesting letter this morning from Claire Tomalin about the Drummer Hodge scene in The History Boys, saying that, contrary to what Hector specifically asserts in the scene, Hodge was not in the ordinary sense a name but like, as it were, Joe Bloggs, a generic name for a common and unthinking ...
17 March 2011
... dislike Mrs Norris for her cruelty and to admire Fanny for her forbearance. Austen’s biographer Claire Tomalin sees Mrs Norris as ‘one of the great villains of literature’; Tony Tanner thought she was ‘one of Jane Austen’s most impressive creations and indeed one of the most plausibly odious characters in fiction’. All this is clear, at times ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB

20 January 2005
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... is no Peter Ackroyd, no Hermione Lee, no Victoria Glendinning, though there are three entries by Claire Tomalin, including Katherine Mansfield and Ellen Ternan, and four by Michael Holroyd, including Augustus John. Given the (exaggerated) claims made for the dictionary as ‘the panorama of the national past’, it is also worth remarking that there is ...

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