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In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell, 11 October 1990

On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... the Charing Cross Road’. Occasionally, the day’s work done, he goes to pubs and meets poets: David Wright, ‘a literary instrument of precision’, and a long-time friend and supporter; Patrick Kavanagh, who was to be approached ‘with a large whisky in one’s outstretched hand’; George Barker, first seen ‘wearing a check suit and cap, all ...

One word says to its mate

Claire Harman: W.S. Graham, 4 October 2001

The Nightfisherman: Selected Letters of W.S. Graham 
edited by Michael Snow and Margaret Snow.
Carcanet, 401 pp., £12.95, November 1999, 1 85754 445 5
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... He wrote The Seven Journeys at this time (it wasn’t published until 1944) and made friends with David Archer, the publisher and bookseller whose Scott Street Arts Centre in Glasgow was a venue for the avant-garde of the interwar years. Graham met Dylan Thomas there, who was sufficiently impressed to include a Graham poem at the end of one of his own ...

Tomboy Grudge

Claire Harman, 27 February 1992

Rose Macaulay: A Writer’s Life 
by Jane Emery.
Murray, 381 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7195 4768 7
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... book. The ‘mélange of toughness, independence, enterprise, courage and good humour’ which David Wright admired when he met Macaulay in the Fifties, reads like an uncorroborated report, and, ironically, the most lasting image is Wright’s description of an unattended bicycle, a familiar sight outside the London ...
From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency: Historical Perspectives on People with Learning Disabilities 
edited by David Wright and Anne Digby.
Routledge, 238 pp., £45, October 1996, 9780415112154
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... It is easy to conjure up landscapes of the past peopled by holy fools, and to suppose that medieval times were full of simpleton jesters, and boy bishops leading rites of inversion and showing how all sinners were equal in God’s eyes. It is equally easy to imagine a subsequent darkening of the plain – the old Christian reverence for simplicity yielding to the carceral project of modernity, Foucault’s great confinement ...

Signing

Ian Hacking, 5 April 1990

Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf 
by Oliver Sacks.
Picador, 186 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 330 31161 1
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When the mind hears: A History of the Deaf 
by Harlan Lane.
Penguin, 537 pp., £6.99, August 1988, 0 14 022834 9
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Deafness: A Personal Account 
by David Wright.
Faber, 202 pp., £4.99, January 1990, 0 571 14195 1
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... and lip-reading – is not obviously a bad mode of education for those not deaf at birth. The poet David Wright, deaf from scarlet fever at the age of seven, tells, in Deafness: A Personal Account, how glad he is to have been at that kind of school. The people on whom oralism worked had some experience of speech and seem also to have been ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... We won’t find, for instance, Burns Singer, one of the most original poets of the Fifties, or David Wright and John Heath-Stubbs. All three were friends of Graham, and their inclusion might have helped the Forties and Fifties out of their New Apocalypse v. Movement stand-off. Hamish Henderson, whose 1948 Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (reprinted ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... James, the always reliable butler, deals with that, the illusion of a dedication to poetry. Adrian Wright, in this new biography, refers several times to Lehmann’s half-commitment (in spite of his energy) to the professional life he chose. Fieldhead was the magic enclosure to which, as an adult, he looked back, wishing that it might have been possible to sit ...

Downland Maniacs

Michael Mason, 5 October 1995

The Village that Died for England 
by Patrick Wright.
Cape, 420 pp., £17.99, March 1995, 0 224 03886 9
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... we are blessedly enlightened, like South Sea cannibal islanders converted to Christianity. Patrick Wright’s new book is all about not being triumphalist, or taking any simple view on the history of attitudes to human use of the natural world. This sounds like an implausibly large endeavour for a book whose subject is just one bit of England (Purbeck), in the ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... had produced not a glimpse of Wilsonia. Many years later, inspired by the Spycatcher revelations, David Leigh of the Observer has set out on the journey once more. There is no one better qualified. All through the awful Eighties David Leigh has kept the flag of investigative journalism fluttering high. He has a stack of ...

Let’s all go to Mars

John Lanchester, 10 September 2015

The Wright Brothers 
by David McCullough.
Thorndike, 585 pp., £22, May 2015, 978 1 4104 7875 7
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Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Is Shaping Our Future 
by Ashlee Vance.
Virgin, 400 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 7535 5562 0
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... are so well known in outline that we don’t really know them at all. The headline news about the Wright brothers’ invention of powered flight is so familiar that it’s easy to think we know all about it. David McCullough’s excellent biography The Wright Brothers brings the ...

Take a tinderbox and go steady with your canoe

John Bossy: Jesuits, 20 May 2004

The Jesuits: Missions, Myths and Histories 
by Jonathan Wright.
HarperCollins, 334 pp., £20, February 2004, 0 00 257180 3
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... and not simply about members of religious orders: Benedictines do not seem to suffer from it. David Knowles wrote a history of the monks and friars in medieval England that was instantly recognised as a masterpiece, but I can’t quite see a Jesuit pulling off something similar – though on a smaller scale John O’Malley’s The First Jesuits ...

The Last Witness

Colm Tóibín: The career of James Baldwin, 20 September 2001

... act – that the American boy evolve into the complexity of manhood.’ In an essay on Richard Wright, published in 1951, he wrote: And there is, I should think, no Negro living in America who has not felt briefly and for long periods, with anguish sharp or dull, in varying degrees or to varying effect, simple, naked and unanswerable hatred; who has not ...

Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... paintings were, in important ways, anti-academic, or ‘English’: Hogarth himself, Zoffany, Wright of Derby, Stubbs, Gainsborough, Rowlandson and Blake. The second group all shared something of Hogarth’s anti-authoritarian scepticism. Turner acknowledged his allegiance to it when he donated Hogarth’s palette to the Royal Academy, while Constable ...

Upstaging

Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... He is Daron Aric Hagen, and Shining Brow is an opera about the early life of Frank Lloyd Wright, commissioned by Madison Opera, Wisconsin, Wright’s home state. The work was premièred there in April, but not having heard it, I cannot speak for the opera’s music. That, though, would not appear to be much of a ...

What did they name the dog?

Wendy Doniger: Twins, 19 March 1998

Twins: Genes, Environment and the Mystery of Identity 
by Lawrence Wright.
Weidenfeld, 128 pp., £14.99, November 1997, 0 297 81976 3
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... and Iphikles, the immortal and mortal infant twins born of Zeus and Amphitryon). Lawrence Wright grounds what he calls ‘this widespread fantasy’ in other peoples’ studies of separated identical twins: Babies actually do get lost or separated, and, however rare such an event may be, when a person finds his twin it feeds the common fantasy that ...

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