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19 January 1984
... Hearing you were dead, I went out to look at mountains. Forty years we had been friends, writing between cities, meeting in cities, talking of anarchist persons and principles and never climbing a mountain together. Yet all it meant was mountains, and always in your poems the mountains rose, bright as freedom, crystalline as science. Kenneth, you were like Shaw. None of your friends liked you. They ...

Dreams of Fair Game

George Woodcock

20 May 1982
Maps and Dreams 
by Hugh Brody.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 297 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 906908 76 0
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... The White Man’s inability or refusal even to see the existence of Indian economic systems is the one theme that threads its way through the story of the New World,’ says Hugh Brody in Maps and Dreams. ‘European beliefs that hunting people occupied the bottom rung of an evolutionary ladder, together with contrary views of the hunter as an ideal of human existence alongside which contemporary European ...

Plain English

Denis Donoghue

20 December 1984
Nineteen Eighty-Four: Facsimile Edition 
by George​ Orwell, edited by Peter Davison.
Secker, 291 pp., £25, July 1984, 9780436350221
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Nineteen Eighty-Four 
by George​ Orwell, edited by Bernard Crick.
Oxford, 460 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 19 818521 9
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Inside the Myth. Orwell: Views from the Left 
edited by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 287 pp., £12.50, November 1984, 0 85315 599 2
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The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George​ Orwell 
by George Woodcock.
Fourth Estate, 287 pp., £5.95, November 1984, 0 947795 05 7
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Orwell’s London 
by John Thompson.
Fourth Estate, 119 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 947795 00 6
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... in advance which ones are corrupt. Other books published in honour of Orwell’s year are: Orwell Remembered by Audrey Coppard and Bernard Crick (Ariel, 287 pp., £3.95, 5 January, 0 563 20200 9), George Orwell: A Personal Memoir by T.R. Fyvel (Hutchinson, reissue, 221 pp., £4.95, October 1983, 0 09 151741 9), Unwelcome Guerrilla. George Orwell and the ‘New Statesman’: An Anthology, edited by ...

Traven identified

George Woodcock

3 July 1980
The Man who was B. Traven 
by Will Wyatt.
Cape, 326 pp., £8.50, June 1980, 0 224 01720 9
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The Government 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 356 2
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The Cotton-Pickers 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 200 pp., £5.50, October 1979, 0 85031 284 1
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The White Rose 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 209 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 369 4
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... I am convinced, after reading his book, The Man who was B. Traven, that the BBC producer Will Wyatt has (with some notable assistance from others) finally solved one of the most tantalising literary mysteries of our age, and has established, as firmly as it ever will be, the identity of the novelist who called himself B. Traven. In the process, he has shown that Traven was perhaps the most multiply ...

Elegy for an Anarchist

George Woodcock

19 January 1984
... twang of his Chicago youth, as it did when he decided to embark on some scandalous fragment of autobiography, delivered out of the left-hand corner of his mouth. ‘When I was a boy in Chicago, George, selling small dogs for sexual purposes …’ Relations with Rexroth alternated between times of enthusiastic acceptance and times of harsh rejection, at least with men; towards women he was much ...

All Together Now

John Lloyd: The British Trade Union

19 October 2000
British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. I: The Postwar Compromise, 1945-64 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 335 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. II: The High Tide of Trade Unionism, 1964-79 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 389 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism 
by Robert Taylor.
Palgrave, 299 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 333 93066 5
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... workers and management in the public sector which became the daily routine diet of the industrial correspondents – right up to the miners’ strike of 1984-85.’ In a fascinating essay about GeorgeWoodcock, the TUC General Secretary in the 1960s, Taylor expresses similar feelings about the unions’ inability to establish a relationship with government which would give them a lasting right to ...


Frank Kermode

2 November 1995
Roy Fuller: Writer and Society 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 330 pp., £25, September 1995, 1 85754 133 2
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... Vamp till Ready, Fuller discusses a poem in which he had spoken of ‘the penis lighthouse ... Aloof with rolling eye’; he didn’t like the neologistic epithet ‘penis’, partly because George Barker had used it first, partly because penises can only with difficulty be imagined to have ‘rolling’ eyes. ‘What the lighthouse was more like (the one at Dungeness) was a vinegar bottle with ...

Propaganda of the Deed

Steve Fraser: Emma Goldman

26 February 2009
Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol I: Made for America, 1890-1901 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 659 pp., $35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07541 4
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Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol. II: Making Speech Free, 1902-1909 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 641 pp., £35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07543 8
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... with whole neighbourhoods and communities burning company property, assailing the police, defying court injunctions and hurling makeshift weapons at advancing militiamen from behind barricades. George Pullman was so sure that labour insurgents would desecrate his corpse that he left instructions for his lead-lined casket to be covered with tar paper and asphalt and deposited in a vault made of ...
8 December 1994
Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... good stead, though the trade-union leaders, however tough, found it hard to dislike a man so determined to cut defence spending, end conscription and maintain full employment: indeed, Vic Feather and GeorgeWoodcock, both future TUC General Secretaries, would visit him in secret to give him private briefings. The Suez crisis and Eden’s departure put Macleod on the spot. He had always supported Butler ...


Nicolas Walter

27 February 1992
Demanding the impossible: A History of Anarchism 
by Peter Marshall.
HarperCollins, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 00 217855 9
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The Self-Build Book 
by Jon Broome and Brian Richardson.
Green Books, 253 pp., £15, December 1991, 1 870098 23 4
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... perspective. A single volume which attempts to cover the whole field can offer only a synthesis or a survey of previous research. For thirty years the standard work of this kind in English has been GeorgeWoodcock’s Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (1962), which was a synthesis – an inexpensive paperback, elegantly written, deliberately designed for ordinary readers rather ...

Bird-man swallows human

David Craig: Birds’ Eggs

19 October 2016
The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and outside) a Bird’s Egg 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 288 pp., £16.99, April 2016, 978 1 4088 5125 8
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... at the end of the garden. Encounters with birds have enriched my life, whether it was the golden eagle spiralling silently upwards a few yards below me in a corrie of Beinn Alligin in Torridon, or a woodcock zigzagging through a deserted orchard two hundred yards east of my Cumbrian home, or a kestrel darting in and out of a Yorkshire cliff as it hunted the nestlings of the martins’ autumn broods and ...

The Chase

Inigo Thomas: ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’

19 October 2016
... has done. It’s 1844, and he’s got it. Turner is not out of his time; he and Turner are contemporaries.’ The tide of modern art wasn’t long in coming: in the first Impressionist salon in 1874, George Braquemond showed an etching of Manet’s Olympia alongside an intriguing version of Rain, Steam and Speed. He captured some of the elements of Turner’s title – the wind-driven rain slashes ...
21 August 1980
Governments and Trade Unions: The British Experience 1964-79 
by Denis Barnes and Eileen Reid.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 435 83045 7
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... The ‘union problem’ had become a cultural deformity. For some of this time the British, or at least some of them, imagined themselves to be blazing a trail for advanced industrial society. George Brown’s incomes policy and National Plan and, later, the Social Contract were claimed as major socio-economic innovations – British firsts. The Manchu Empire had suffered similar ethnocentric ...


Tim Dee: Twitching

11 March 2010
... red soil of your West Country childhood to the grey sand of your East Anglian retirement, mourning lost redpolls but finding solace in siskins, watching lapwings mopping at a wet sky, or hearing a woodcock grunting its love song overhead at dusk, or feeling redstarts tug you in pursuit of them by quivering their rusty tails? That list is mine; every birder will have their own. To me ducks seem hard to ...

Frog’s Knickers

Colin Burrow: How to Swear

26 September 2013
Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing 
by Melissa Mohr.
Oxford, 316 pp., £16.99, May 2013, 978 0 19 974267 7
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... noddie meacocks, blockish grutnols, doddi-poljolt-heads, jobbernol goosecaps, foolish loggerheads, slutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninnie-hammer flycatchers, noddiepeak simpletons, turdie gut, shitten shepherds, and other suchlike defamatory epithets’. As these few tasters from Sir Thomas Urquhart’s translation of ...

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