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Boswell’s Bowels

Neal Ascherson, 20 December 1984

James Boswell: The Later Years 1769-1795 
by Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 609 pp., £20, November 1984, 0 434 08530 8
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... an ‘Age of Boswell’ to the 20th century. This second volume of the grand Frederick Pottle-Frank Brady biography marks the climax of that long achievement. Climax, but not end: in some country-house loft or uncleared bank vault, I would bet, lies the huge bundle which is the missing Johnson-Boswell correspondence. But that discovery, if and when ...

Great Portland Street Blues

Karl Miller, 25 January 1990

Boswell: The Great Biographer. Journals: 1789-1795 
by James Boswell, edited by Marlies Danziger and Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 432 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 434 89729 9
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... account of Boswell’s later life which was published six years ago by one of the present editors, Frank Brady – is the worse for its author’s frustrations, prostrations and despairs, interesting though he can sometimes make them appear; it conveys what can often seem like a bitter end for the likely lad from Ayrshire; Boswell’s last legs are apt to ...


Gavin Millar, 13 September 1990

Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles 
by Frank Brady.
Hodder, 655 pp., £18.95, January 1990, 0 340 51389 6
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If this was happiness: A Biography of Rita Hayworth 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 312 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79630 5
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Norma Shearer 
by Gavin Lambert.
Hodder, 381 pp., £17.95, August 1990, 0 340 52947 4
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Ava’s Men: The Private Life of Ava Gardner 
by Jane Ellen Wayne.
Robson, 268 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 86051 636 9
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Goldwyn: A Biography 
by Scott Berg.
Hamish Hamilton, 579 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 241 12832 3
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The Genius of the System: Hollywood Film-Making in the Studio Era 
by Thomas Schatz.
Simon and Schuster, 514 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 671 69708 0
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... journalists, gossip-columnists and even critics), he was possibly the least culpable. Even Brady, an admirer, in his exhaustive and occasionally exhausting coverage, fails from time to time to set the record straight aggressively enough, and falls victim to what we should regard as the received malice. Although an admirer, ...

What’s this fork doing?

Andrea Brady: Alice Notley, 7 September 2023

Early Works 
by Alice Notley.
Fonograf, 321 pp., $20.95, February, 978 1 7378036 3 8
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The Speak Angel Series 
by Alice Notley.
Fonograf, 634 pp., $27.95, February, 978 1 7378036 2 1
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... of the poems in Early Works have a chatty, diurnal music that can also be heard in the work of Frank O’Hara or John Ashbery. Ashbery’s notion of the poem as ‘the chronicle of the creative act that produces it’ is a good description of Notley’s shapely, improvisatory poetics – full of changing weather, changing clothes, the impressions of the ...

Stay Home, Stay Stoned

Andrea Brady: Diane di Prima, 10 March 2022

Revolutionary Letters: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition 
by Diane di Prima.
City Lights, 213 pp., £13.99, September 2021, 978 0 9957162 6 1
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... also had two children). Di Prima wrote plays, acted, directed and produced. They put on dramas by Frank O’Hara and Robert Duncan at various downtown venues and broadcast Antonin Artaud’s radio piece ‘To Have Done with the Judgment of God’, complete with ‘gongs and blood-curdling screams’, to the whole of Bleecker Street. In 1965 di Prima founded ...

It’s me you gotta make happy

Andrea Brady: John Wieners, 29 July 2021

Yours Presently: The Selected Letters of John Wieners 
edited by Michael Seth Stewart.
New Mexico, 333 pp., £60, December 2020, 978 0 8263 6204 9
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... and prone to self-destruction. Wieners himself remembered taking the ferry to Provincetown with Frank O’Hara: ‘We stood again below deck by the hectic Atlantic cutting at our feet, speaking of Hart Crane and the last words we would have in our mouths at that moment of surrender.’ His idol was Billie Holiday, who gives the name to one of his best short ...

Fox and Crow

David Craig: The Moors, 31 July 2014

The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature 
by William Atkins.
Faber, 371 pp., £18.99, May 2014, 978 0 571 29004 8
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... The moor near Saddleworth, just south of the M62, inevitably features the Moors murderers. Ian Brady is defined with characteristic justice as ‘pouting, imperious’, with a ‘facility for barbarism’. The land round Fylingdales is pocked with craters left by artillery exercises which are now rife with tadpoles and newts, while the moor supports fox ...
... what I recall a mite closer to the facts of the matter. Doris Lessing left behind two ex-husbands, Frank Wisdom and Gottfried Lessing, and the two young children of her marriage to Frank. Men do this all the time – desert the family, shall we say, in one form or another – but we assume, partly because of ...

Lucky Lad

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Harold Evans, 17 December 2009

My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times – An Autobiography 
by Harold Evans.
Little, Brown, 515 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 1 4087 0203 1
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... blackmail and sheer corruption. After 30 years Evans still burns with hatred at the name of ‘Reg Brady, a Communist “father of the chapel” in the pressroom’. He also admits that the paper’s management were well and truly outfought in this continual guerrilla warfare with the printers, sourly adding that Brady’s ...

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