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10 February 1994
Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World 
by Carol Brightman.
Lime Tree, 714 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 413 45821 0
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... mess ensued before they established themselves as a grand couple, and she finally ‘mellowed’. Elizabeth Hardwick, a loyal if witty and sceptical friend whose comments always enliven the page and who stayed with McCarthy to the very end, described West succinctly as ‘a husband-type husband’. In handling all the personal material – often ...

I don’t even get bananas

Madeleine Schwartz: Christina Stead

2 November 2017
The Man Who Loved Children 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 528 pp., £10, April 2016, 978 1 78497 148 9
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Letty Fox: Her Luck 
by Christina Stead.
Apollo, 592 pp., £14, May 2017, 978 1 78669 139 2
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... She​ was famous for being neglected,’ Lorna Sage once said of Christina Stead. In 1955, Elizabeth Hardwick, writing in the New Republic, described trying to obtain Stead’s address from her last American publisher. Only a few years before the New Yorker had called her ‘the most extraordinary woman novelist produced by the English-speaking race since Virginia Woolf ...

In Coleridge’s Bed

Ange Mlinko: Dead Poets Road Trip

19 April 2017
Deaths of the Poets 
by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Cape, 414 pp., £14.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 09754 3
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... did); William Carlos Williams’s Rutherford home (where the famous icebox was, they point out); Elizabeth Bishop’s last residence on Boston Harbor; the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia, which reassembled Marianne Moore’s Brooklyn living space on its own third floor. I’m pretty sure I can tell which poets the authors are really keen on ...


Colm Tóibín: Bishop v. Lowell

14 May 2009
Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell 
edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 875 pp., £40, November 2008, 978 0 571 24308 2
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... Lowell wrote the poem ‘Water’ about being on the coast of Maine in the summer of 1948 with Elizabeth Bishop; he put it first in his collection For the Union Dead, which he published in 1964. He sent Bishop a draft of the poem in March 1962, explaining that it was ‘more romantic and grey than the whole truth, for all has been sunny between us. Indeed ...
8 June 1995
Christina Stead: A Biography 
by Hazel Rowley.
Secker, 646 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 436 20298 0
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... support: Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Saul Bellow, Theodore Roethke, Lillian Hellman, Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Hardwick in America; Patrick White in Australia. Books previously declined were now published. There were reprints. There was an interest, and it would grow. It was all good, but it had come too late. In 1968 Bill Blake died and Stead was consumed ...

Why am I so fucked up?

Christian Lorentzen: 37 Shades of Zadie

8 November 2012
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 295 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 0 241 14414 5
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... in the New York Review of Books and soon a column in Harper’s. Was she the second coming of Elizabeth Hardwick, or a kinder, gentler James Wood? In ‘Two Paths for the Novel’, she looked at books by Joseph O’Neill and Tom McCarthy. Realism, it seemed, was on the run, and it turned out that novels in English could still be vehicles for ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives

6 June 2013
by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... the position.’ Her subjects have changed too: the wives are more contemporary and productive (Elizabeth Hardwick, Sylvia Plath). And the text grows more polemical, as when she tells us: It drives me absolutely bonkers that the mythology of Zelda, as endlessly repeated by Scott’s biographers … dictates some narrative that she was not disciplined ...

Lily and Lolly

Sarah Rigby

18 July 1996
The Yeats Sisters: A Biography of Susan and Elizabeth Yeats 
by Joan Hardwick.
Pandora, 263 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 04 440924 9
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... in West London. William was 23, Susan Yeats (or Lily, as she was known within the family) was 22, Elizabeth (Lolly) 20. Their father, who had given up the law shortly after he married in order to paint, had very little money; their mother, who had been a pretty, indulged, Sligo girl, and had expected to be comfortable, was disappointed. She gave birth to six ...


Mark Ford: Love and Theft

2 December 2004
... in his 1973 collection, The Dolphin, a number of sonnets based on letters from his ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick. Lowell had left her, and their daughter, Harriet, for England and Caroline Blackwood; The Dolphin tells, as he put it in a letter to Christopher Ricks, ‘the story of changing marriages, not a malice or sensation, far from it, but ...

Not bothered

E.S. Turner

29 August 1991
The Bachelor Duke: William Spencer Cavendish, Sixth Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 234 pp., £19.95, March 1991, 0 7195 4920 5
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... they bolted for the safety of Revolutionary Paris. The party included the Duke’s mistress, Lady Elizabeth Foster, and his four young children, two of them by Lady Elizabeth, whose company Georgiana ‘for reasons best known to herself ... loved more than that of any living soul’. Georgiana’s mother, Countess ...
21 September 2016
This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World 
by Jerry Brotton.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 241 00402 9
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... domain of Anletār’. It began a correspondence between Sultan Murad III and the most renowned Elizabeth, most sacred queen, and noble prince of the most mighty worshippers of Jesus, most wise governor of the causes and affairs of the people and family of Nazareth, cloud of most pleasant rain, and sweetest fountain of nobleness and virtue, lady and heir of ...


John Bayley

17 September 1987
Robert Lowell: Essays on the Poetry 
edited by Steven Gould Axelrod and Helen Deese.
Cambridge, 377 pp., £17.50, June 1987, 0 571 14979 0
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Collected Prose 
by Robert Lowell, edited and introduced by Robert Giroux.
Faber, 269 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 30872 0
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... to which Lowell’s censorious biographers pay too little attention, the words of his second wife, Elizabeth Hardwick. She said that ‘texts had been his life.’ A tycoon’s widow might equally say, and in the same spirit, that ‘money had been his life.’ The sharpest point that Marjorie Perloff makes is to quote from Ian Hamilton’s biography of ...

Copying the coyote

Richard Poirier

18 October 1984
The Principles of Psychology 
by William James, introduced by George Miller.
Harvard, 1302 pp., £14.95, December 1983, 0 674 70625 0
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A Stroll with William James 
by Jacques Barzun.
Chicago, 344 pp., £16, October 1983, 0 226 03865 3
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Becoming William James 
by Howard Feinstein.
Cornell, 377 pp., $24.95, May 1984, 0 8014 1617 5
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Essays in Psychology 
by William James, edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Fredson Bowers.
Harvard, 467 pp., £32, April 1984, 0 674 26714 1
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... print, of The Letters of William James, published in 1920, and in the Selected Letters edited by Elizabeth Hardwick in 1962, recently reissued in paperback. A substantial new collection is needed to confirm the identity of purpose between his letters and the almost equally informal and personal philosophical writings. It would be a logical extension of ...

The Wrong Blond

Alan Bennett

23 May 1985
Auden in Love 
by Dorothy Farnan.
Faber, 264 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 571 13399 1
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... only to be expected. Even a literary wife as talented as her husband, like the second Mrs Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, finds her work calibrated on the scale of accomplishment not achievement, and the sincerest recognition still hints at the escape from the washing-up or stolen hours while children sleep. Whether you call this condescension or ...

I was Mary Queen of Scots

Colm Tóibín: Biographical empathy

21 October 2004
My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots 
by John Guy.
Harper Perennial, 574 pp., £8.99, August 2004, 1 84115 753 8
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Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens 
by Jane Dunn.
Harper Perennial, 592 pp., £8.99, March 2004, 9780006531920
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... In the rehearsals for the first production of Donizetti’s opera in 1835, the sopranos playing Elizabeth and Mary fell out rather badly. ‘The ill-will of Mary,’ it was reported, ‘so enraged Elizabeth, by nature the more choleric, that right in the middle of one finale she hurled herself at her enemy, pulled her by ...

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