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In a Boat of His Own Making

James Camp: Jack London

24 September 2014
Jack London: An American Life 
by Earle Labor.
Farrar, Straus, 439 pp., £21.99, November 2013, 978 0 374 17848 2
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The Sea-Wolf 
by Jack London.
Hesperus, 287 pp., £9.99, August 2013, 978 1 78094 200 1
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... candidate for mayor of Oakland, no-good husband, doomed sea captain and arthritic debauchee – were a matter of public record. London’s life had a mythic quality in the eyes of his contemporaries. EarleLabor, his latest biographer, who was born in 1928, sees him in this way too. ‘The careers of few writers,’ he writes, ‘mirror so clearly the American Dream of Success and the corollary ideal ...

Jack and Leo

John Sutherland

27 July 1989
The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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Tolstoy 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... might have been a spasmodic act, induced in the middle of the night by the ‘unbearable agony’ of a calculus. Other commentators tried to accommodate Irving Shepard’s fixed idea. Among them was EarleLabor, one of the editors of the new Letters. In his Twayne monograph on London, published in 1974, Labor contrives to introduce Chaney in passing, but leaves the baffled reader thinking that Flora ...

Grass Green Stockings

Eleanor Hubbard: A Spinster’s Accounts

21 March 2013
The Business and Household Accounts of Joyce Jeffreys, Spinster of Hereford, 1638-48 
edited by Judith Spicksley.
Oxford, 413 pp., £90, March 2012, 978 0 19 726432 4
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... she made a belated effort to catch up with the news, buying a book about the ‘trobles’ of William Prynne and his allies, who had lost their ears in 1637 for seditious libel, and one on ‘the Earle of Strafords arainment and his pickture & the Arch Bushop Lawds’. When war came, Hereford declared for the king, but was taken by a Parliamentary army led by the Earl of Stamford in September 1642 ...
5 June 1980
The Movement: English Poetry and Fiction of the 1950s 
by Blake Morrison.
Oxford, 326 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780192122100
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The Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse 1945-1980 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 299 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 19 214108 2
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... to be a poet ‘whose staying power is attested’ by work published between 1945 and 1980, but writers who flourished in the Thirties are excluded. The oldest poet present is Stevie Smith, who, like Earle Birney, was older than Auden; A.D. Hope was born in the same year as Auden, and is older than Spender. The poets who do get in are all pretty well known and mostly unexceptionable. Certain Americans ...

Brattishness

Colin Burrow: Henry Howard

11 November 1999
Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life 
by W.A. Sessions.
Oxford, 448 pp., £60, March 1999, 9780198186243
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... love for Geraldine. The sonnet was entitled ‘Description and praise of his love Geraldine’ in Richard Tottel’s Songes and Sonnettes written by the ryght honourable Lorde Henry Haward late Earle of Surrey, and others (1557). On the strength of this, Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller turned the relationship between Surrey and Geraldine into a full-scale send-up of a Petrarchan ...

Somebody Shoot at Me!

Ian Sansom: Woody Guthrie’s Novel

9 May 2013
House of Earth: A Novel 
by Woody Guthrie.
Fourth Estate, 234 pp., £14.99, February 2013, 978 0 00 750985 0
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... the third volume of his recordings of Guthrie’s previously unpublished lyrics and songs. But this was only to be expected: unlikely as it seems, Bragg, along with fellow singer-songwriter Steve Earle, has become an official keeper of the Guthrie flame. The true sparks from the sacred fire are perhaps to be found elsewhere. Maybe in the film Big Easy Express, directed by Emmett Malloy and released ...

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