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Jenny Diski: Caroline Blackwood, 18 October 2001

Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood 
by Nancy Schoenberger.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £20, June 2001, 0 297 84101 7
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... least interesting, even if not, as the press handout bizarrely suggests, comparable to that of Edna O’Brien, Iris Murdoch, Muriel Spark and Samuel Beckett (though I wish just for the sake of the gaiety of the nation that someone’s work was comparable with all those writers). The writing strains towards being very good, but is sabotaged by ...

Dentists? No Way

Naoise Dolan, 7 January 2021

As You Were 
by Elaine Feeney.
Harvill Secker, 392 pp., £14.99, August 2020, 978 1 78730 163 4
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... of books: Maeve Binchy, Catherine Cookson, Oscar Wilde and more daring authors, such as Edna O’Brien, who were on her father’s ‘forbidden list’. She lost her taste for reading as an adult because she ‘couldn’t concentrate on other people’s stories’, but she scrutinises her fellow patients on the Ward with precision. Instead of ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy, 6 June 2002

Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... performance as the nation’s First Lady.’ Jackie made contact with the Irish novelist Edna O’Brien when O’Brien’s play about Virginia Woolf was in rehearsal in New York. O’Brien wrote about her: So many of her qualities – that breathless enthusiasm, a certain ...


Anne Enright: Call Yourself George, 21 September 2017

... too social, somehow, to describe the kind of deafness I want to identify (though it is true that Edna O’Brien, as beautiful and sexy on the page as in life, really was chased out of town). It’s hard to remember what it was like back in 2013, but I seem to recall that you couldn’t complain then without being told that other people had it ...

Ladies and Gentlemen

Patricia Beer, 6 May 1982

The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... reference to the work of women imaginative writers.’ So into the witness-box come successively Edna O’Brien, Margaret Drabble, Penelope Mortimer, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch. In the case of three, perhaps four, of the witnesses nothing is said about how they give their evidence. In the two years that Rebecca West was contributing to the ...

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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... appreciatively at his jokes. He was interviewed for the Observer colour supplement and kissed by Edna O’Brien, but privately, as the letters reveal, he was disturbed by recognition. Kathleen Raine’s admiration made him uneasy – ‘it must surely be (for what I would think) the wrong reason’ – and of his poetry in general he wondered: ‘Who ...

Hats One Dreamed about

Tessa Hadley: Rereading Bowen, 20 February 2020

Collected Stories 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Everyman, 904 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 84159 392 0
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... an Irish story about the despoiling of a young girl’s first love, which seems to look forward to Edna O’Brien or Claire Keegan. Barbie is living one summer with her uncle, in a sensual dream of happiness, in love with him without knowing it. He sends her to pay a visit to his neighbour, a thwarted, fascinating, clever woman his own age, who also wants ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... Carter was often vehement in her dislike of slightly older women writers, such as Joan Didion, Edna O’Brien and Jean Rhys, whom she claimed to find victim-like. Such women also, one can’t help but notice, had the fragile slightness her mother had but she didn’t, in their bodies and in their works. Even after giving birth herself, Ward Jouve ...


Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... contemporary literary figures. Here is Dennis Potter on 17 May, Michael Frayn on 8 September, Edna O’Brien on 15 December, and so naturally I turn to my own birthday. May 9 is blank except for the note: ‘The first British self-service launderette is opened on Queensway, London 1949.’ 4 January. George F. tells me that when Andrew Lloyd ...

The Price

Dan Jacobson: The concluding part of Dan Jacobson’s interview with Ian Hamilton, 21 February 2002

... to be these gifted people out there, so we were up and running. People I knew about, like you and Edna O’Brien, were also in the first issue and there were a couple of new things. What was coming in was nothing like as bad, on the whole, as a comparable pile of poems would have been. Certainly not as pretentious. Often there was a bit of humour to ...

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