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Strange Love

William Boyd, 1 December 1983

The Africans 
by David Lamb.
Bodley Head, 363 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 370 30968 5
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African Princess 
by Princess Elizabeth of Toro.
Hamish Hamilton, 230 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 241 11002 5
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The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat 
by Ryszard Kapuściński, translated by William Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowsa-Brand.
Quartet, 164 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7043 2415 6
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... states of affairs currently preoccupying and bedevilling the unhappy place. However, after reading David Lamb’s The Africans these responses should be leavened with another one – despair. For this comprehensive and valuable survey of the status quo in sub-Saharan Africa is such a depressing catalogue of human iniquity that the reader experiences the ...

Little Mania

Ian Gilmour: The disgraceful Lady Caroline Lamb, 19 May 2005

Lady Caroline Lamb 
by Paul Douglass.
Palgrave, 354 pp., £16.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6605 2
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... was such a Woman!!!’ Emily Cowper (later Palmerston) wrote of her sister-in-law, Lady Caroline Lamb. Lady Cowper was not being complimentary. She later described Caroline as being ‘more termagant than ever’. Such disparagement of the woman, who in 1812 had a notorious affair with Byron and was married to a future prime minister, was not confined to the ...

A Turn for the Woowoo

Theo Tait: David Mitchell, 4 December 2014

The Bone Clocks 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 595 pp., £20, September 2014, 978 0 340 92160 9
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... David Mitchell​ is a career-long genre-bender. Only with his fourth book, Black Swan Green (2006), did he raid his own store of experience to write a first-novelish novel, a charming if low-key coming-of-age story, set in Worcestershire in 1982, full of references to Findus Crispy Pancakes, the Falklands War and playground slang ...

David Nokes on the duality of Defoe

David Nokes, 19 April 1990

Daniel Defoe: His Life 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 671 pp., £20.50, November 1989, 0 8018 3785 5
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... her act as ‘a just reproof’ to the parents ‘for their negligence in leaving the poor lamb to come home by itself’. When she strips a drunken old punter of his valuables, she reflects that ‘this usage may, for aught I know, do more to reform him than all the sermons that he will ever hear in his life.’ It is this apparently guileless ...

Bard of Tropes

Jonathan Lamb: Thomas Chatterton, 20 September 2001

Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture 
by Nick Groom.
Palgrave, 300 pp., £55, September 1999, 0 333 72586 7
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... time the lonely outsider commemorated by Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and (more cannily) Wordsworth. David Fairer maintains that their Wertherisation of Chatterton’s alleged suicide concentrated the Romantic poets’ minds on their own social isolation, on the necessary dissidence of the poet’s task and the short time reserved for its performance. Chatterton ...

There was and there was not

Jonathan Coe, 4 April 1991

To Know a Woman 
by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Chatto, 265 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3572 7
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The Smile of the Lamb 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 325 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 224 02639 9
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... Amos Oz and David Grossman are both political writers. This might seem an obvious statement, given that they are well-known for being politically vocal and have both written political (non-fiction) books consisting of interviews with their Palestinian and Israeli countrymen. But the main thing is that they also write intensely and truthfully political novels of the sort which tend to be thin on the ground in Britain ...

Swiftly Encircling Gloom

Tim Radford, 8 May 1997

Promising The Earth 
by Robert Lamb.
Routledge, 204 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 415 14443 4
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... The moment was late in 1970, at the Travellers’ Club in London, during a supper for 14 people. David Brower, the saint of eco-sanity from the Sierra Club in California, had just given a sermon, a hell-fire variant of the one geologists have used for a century or more: rocks are long, life is short, who do we think we are? Brower’s homily – which the ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester: A Memoir, 5 July 2001

... for confidences about money. My mother used his mollycoddling of me – whom he called his ‘pet lamb’ – as her excuse for favouring my sister, saying that my father had so totally appropriated me, their first-born, with his adoration that, when they had a second child, she had no alternative to loving her more than he did and more than she did me. She ...

It makes yer head go

David Craig: James Kelman and Gordon Legge, 18 February 1999

The Good Times 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1998, 0 436 41215 2
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Near Neighbours 
by Gordon Legge.
Cape, 218 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05120 2
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... to put up or it was time to shut up, it was time to broach my subject: the subject of Troy, Danny Lamb and the mysterious – nay, extraordinary – duplicating that went by the name of Danielle. Notice that the narrative gist enveloped in these sawing, hammering repetitions and wall-to-wall clichés is just a spelling-out of what all readers know full ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Anthony Powell’s artists, 26 January 2006

... possible, for instance, to imagine Powell’s Barnby enlivening a portrait session much as Henry Lamb did when he enlisted his sister-in-law, Lady Violet Pakenham, to talk to Powell while he was being painted. Lamb’s portraits – of Powell, of Lady Violet, of Evelyn Waugh – are the most assured and historically ...

Diary

David Gascoyne: Notebook, New Year 1991, 25 January 1996

... A Serious Character unexpectedly. – Dull TV. Sunday 13: – Had made apricot mousse to follow lamb for lunch. Vin de Pays du Gard. – Napped after lunch – News increasingly sombre. – Made successful piperade for supper. – Joely Richardson excellent and moving in David Hare’s BBC2 Screenplay. Monday 14: Wrote ...

Tortoises with Zips

David Craig: The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, 4 April 2002

The Snow Geese 
by William Fiennes.
Picador, 250 pp., £14.99, March 2002, 0 330 37578 4
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... these non-stop flyers mate on the wing is something for which, according to the chief authorities (David Lack and Derek Bromhall), there is no firm evidence. I have watched them for nearly sixty years, at home in North-East Scotland and Westmorland, in the Dolomites and on Gibraltar, and from high up on the Blouberg in Transvaal, and their closest intimacy was ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... its Parliamentary staff, one of its political correspondents, and its Parliamentary sketch-writer David McKie. Frank Johnson, restored to the back page of the Times after a disappointing sojourn abroad, and Edward Pearce of the Daily Telegraph, are representative of the sketch-writing-as-entertainment school. McKie is more thoughtful. The political team on ...

Foxy

Peter Campbell, 21 January 1988

Running with the fox 
by David Macdonald.
Unwin Hyman, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 04 440084 5
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... early systematic observers. Edward, second Duke of York, in his Master of the Game noticed what David Macdonald’s research has confirmed: foxes eat worms. As it became a more respectable quarry the fox was pampered: its habitat was protected, its enemy, the farmer with chickens, bought off, and the long argument between preservers of game and chasers of ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 19 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... At the time, Lytton Strachey was obsessed with the heterosexual painter and philanderer Henry Lamb, whom Cox had recently met and fallen for. She asked Lytton to invite Lamb, and he happily obliged. Lamb was looking for a new mistress and Cox was well-off, generous and ...

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