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To be like us isn’t easy

Emily Cooke: Dorothy Baker, 20 June 2013

Young Man with a Horn 
by Dorothy Baker.
NYRB, 185 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 59017 577 4
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Cassandra at the Wedding 
by Dorothy Baker.
NYRB, 241 pp., £8.99, September 2012, 978 1 59017 601 6
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... In 1962, the daughter of a friend of Dorothy Baker’s went up to her house in Terra Bella, California, to interview the 55-year-old novelist. ‘What is your real purpose in this thing?’ Baker said as the tape began to roll. The interviewer replied that the material might eventually be interesting to literary historians ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman, 4 September 1980

The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... and a couple of tins of beer.’ One remembers the bag of ginger biscuits Hannay bought from a baker’s van in The Thirty-Nine Steps. But mainly it’s a sense of the past that gives this story an extra dimension and makes the Wordsworth quotation sit comfortably in place. It’s true that the main reference back is to more violence, a long-range desert ...

Stanley and the Women

Tony Gould, 25 July 1991

Stanley: The Making of an African Explorer 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 411 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 09 462420 8
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Stanley: Sorcerer’s Apprentice 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 499 pp., £25, January 1991, 0 09 470220 9
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Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley 
by John Bierman.
Hodder, 401 pp., £17.95, January 1991, 0 340 50977 5
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... be courting Virginia Ambella – or Katie Gough-Roberts, or Alice Pike or even, first time around, Dorothy Tennant (who later married him) – what he was unconsciously courting was rejection. In ‘Dolly’ Tennant, perhaps, he met his match, someone as sexually repressed as himself and in some respects odder, since she was, at the age of 34, still addressing ...

Life at the Pastry Board

Stefan Collini: V.S. Pritchett, 4 November 2004

V.S. Pritchett: A Working Life 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Chatto, 308 pp., £25, October 2004, 9780701173227
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... pathetically unrealistic man, whose life was increasingly subjugated to the teachings of Mrs Baker Eddy’s Christian Science and the guiding messages which ‘the Divine Mind’ sent him at the numerous crises of his affairs. Pritchett’s mother, from still humbler origins (the Sawdons, he later recorded, didn’t have ‘an aitch to their ...

Fancy Patter

Theo Tait: Holmes and the Holocaust, 31 March 2005

The Final Solution 
by Michael Chabon.
Fourth Estate, 127 pp., £10, February 2005, 0 00 719602 4
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... story – the ‘Mayhem Parva school’ of detective fiction made famous by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. What Chabon does is to take the neat classical form – the symmetries of suspicion, the reassuring world in which wrongdoers are always discovered, and the values of Little England restored – and to split it open against the history of the ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode, 11 January 1990

In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... there might have been worded more interestingly. Meanwhile Pound had married Olivia’s daughter Dorothy, after much opposition from both her parents. Besides being a woman of intelligence and sensibility, Olivia had the necessary Yeatsian qualification of occultist interests. When the poet brooded, in 1925, over ‘the woman lost’, ‘the great ...

Clues

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 May 1983

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... afforded an entertainment largely absent from a rereading of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Dorothy L. Sayers maintained that the essential rules for writing detective stories are laid down by Aristotle in the Poetics. Similarly, Ronald Knox held that, from prooimion to epilogos, such stories ought to be constructed on the model of Greek tragedy. There ...

Merely a Warning that a Noun is Coming

Bee Wilson: The ‘Littlehampton Libels’, 8 February 2018

The Littlehampton Libels: A Miscarriage of Justice and a Mystery about Words in 1920s England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 256 pp., £30, June 2017, 978 0 19 879965 8
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... examined by two clerks from the Special Investigation Branch. Looking through the periscope, Edwin Baker, one of the clerks, saw Miss Swan’s hand posting the letter to the sanitary inspector along with a letter addressed to her sister in Woking. The stamps on both letters had been marked with invisible ink, and had been sold to Swan at the request of the ...

The Road to West Egg

Thomas Powers, 4 July 2013

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... the garage. Scholars have long known that the leading women in Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker, were based on Fitzgerald’s early girlfriend, Ginevra King, and her classmate at the Westover School in Connecticut, Edith Cummings, a noted golfer. The men in the story are not so easy to pin down, beginning with Nick Carraway, the narrator. Carraway ...

The Life and Death of Juliano Mer-Khamis

Adam Shatz: A Death in Jenin, 21 November 2013

... the daughter of Jessica Mitford and the ex-wife of the civil rights leader James Forman, and Dorothy Zellner, a veteran of the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee. Friends from the civil rights era, and both red-diaper babies, Romilly and Zellner met Juliano in 2006 at a screening of Arna’s Children at NYU. The two women set up the Friends of ...

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