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C.K. Stead: Truth and autobiographies, 27 April 2000

... ahead for those present. Hugh Fraser ‘died of a broken heart’ when Lady Antonia left him for Harold Pinter. Pat died of cancer. Jebb ‘committed suicide with a mixture of vodka and pills’. Of himself Theroux says: ‘I left my wife, I lost my family.’ And what of Malcolm and Robin? ‘No news of the New Zealanders.’ Well, I have ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... from Haydn, a speech by Richard Wollheim, and no fewer than 13 of Spender’s own poems, read by Harold Pinter, Ted Hughes, James Fenton, Jill Balcon and Barry Humphries. (At Larkin’s, there were three.) Spender’s order of service, despite his obvious absence, seems to acknowledge both his customary admiration for the truly great and his anxiety ...

A Cosmos Indoors

Andrew O’Hagan: My Kingdom for a Mint Cracknel, 21 April 2022

Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects 
edited by Barbara Penner, Adrian Forty, Olivia Horsfall Turner and Miranda Critchley.
Reaktion, 390 pp., £23.99, October 2021, 978 1 78914 452 9
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... begin scrolling out possible futures. ‘Yes, why not?’ from Susan Sontag. A blast of rage from Harold Pinter. A request from Hitchens and a poem by Heaney. They’ve now got Seamus’s fax machine behind glass in his hometown museum in Bellaghy, and, when I saw it the other day, I recalled the squeal and purr it would cause in Tavistock ...

Drab Divans

Miranda Seymour: Julian Maclaren-Ross, 24 July 2003

Fear & Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy, Julian Maclaren-Ross 
by Paul Willetts.
Dewi Lewis, 403 pp., £14.99, March 2003, 1 899235 69 8
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... he sought an English audience for Raymond Queneau; in 1961, he proclaimed the genius of Harold Pinter. (Pinter has since returned the favour by reading two of Maclaren-Ross’s stories on the radio.) Willetts valiantly charts his endless moves from one grim lodging to another, in ...

An Easy Lay

James Davidson: Greek tragedy, 30 September 1999

Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy 
edited by Simon Goldhill and Robin Osborne.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £45, June 1997, 0 521 64247 7
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The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy 
edited by P.E. Easterling.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £14.95, October 1997, 0 521 42351 1
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Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning 
by David Wiles.
Cambridge, 130 pp., £13.95, August 1999, 0 521 66615 5
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... ago, demands an imaginative effort much greater than would be required if you had plumped for a Pinter or an Ibsen or a David Hare. When we hear, for instance, that Aeschylus’ rival Phrynichus was particularly noted for his choreographies, or learn from Peter Wilson in Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy that the shawm (aulos) which always ...


Robert Irwin: The Best Thing since Sex, 2 December 1993

... only a short literature. Unlike cricket, it does not command literary partisans of the calibre of Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. Neither can it match swimming’s distinguished roll-call of writer-enthusiasts: Horace, Sidney, Marlowe, Byron, Arnold, Brooke, Gide, Scott Fitzgerald and, most recently, Charles Sprawson. It is true, of course, that Vladimir ...

It wasn’t the Oval

Blake Morrison: Michael Frayn, 7 October 2010

My Father’s Fortune: A Life 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 255 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 571 27058 3
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... English and Irish ones anyway? Samuel Beckett represented his university against Northants. Harold Pinter, who wrote wistfully of seeing Len Hutton in his prime, captained a team called the Gaieties XI. Simon Gray, David Hare and Ronald Harwood are or were known to be keen on the game, too. And Tom Stoppard, another follower, has a striking ...

Highlight of Stay So Far

Stefan Collini: Beckett’s Letters, 1 December 2016

The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. IV: 1966-89 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 838 pp., £29.99, September 2016, 978 0 521 86796 2
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... is only as a memory that he finds Ireland bearable.) Even when writing to his fellow cricket-lover Harold Pinter and dreaming of going to the Oval with him one day, he remembers something he didn’t actually get to see: the ground is ‘where I once missed Frank Woolley just out when I arrived having made something like 70 in half an hour’. Others send ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... In 1956 in London he played – to much critical acclaim from critics such as Kenneth Tynan and Harold Hobson – the part of Seamus Shields in The Shadow of a Gunman. When he was asked to play the part of the railway porter in Beckett’s radio play All That Fall in 1956 he found himself ‘struck tremendously by the writing. It seemed to me profound and ...

Sour Notes

D.A.N. Jones, 17 November 1983

Peter Hall’s Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle 
edited by John Goodwin.
Hamish Hamilton, 507 pp., £12.95, November 1983, 0 241 11047 5
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... shows up very well, offering Hall gnomic and godly advice, calculating his effects. So does Harold Pinter – himself an actor as well as a writer. Sir Peter may struggle too hard to be serious: he may choose silly plays about serious subjects, and he may assume too readily that all characters in serious plays should be ‘discussing moral dilemmas ...

Women of Quality

E.S. Turner, 9 October 1986

The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... Krays are referred to in his books), by the great anti-pornography campaign or by the advent of Harold Pinter into the fold. The book ends in the mid-Sixties, just as the author, in full literary flight, has completed that excellent life of Wellington. Page one introduces us to the author’s jolly orange-haired nurse, once of the music halls, doing ...

Splashed with Stars

Susannah Clapp: In Stoppardian Fashion, 16 December 2021

Tom Stoppard: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Faber, 977 pp., £14.99, September, 978 0 571 31444 7
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... early on. In 1962, in an article called ‘The Tense Present’, he characterised a talk given by Harold Pinter to drama students in the city as ‘an erratic staccato of grudging self-exposure’. He started to write plays.Lee, whose previous biographies, none of them about living writers, have established her as a demon archivist, underpins the ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... of acting with the person in question. ‘A sweetie? Are we talking about the same person?’ ‘Harold Pinter? Can you be serious?’ ‘She’s a bit …’ with a tipping of the elbow to indicate drink taken. I’ve often thought of putting such a session in a play, but unless the names of real actors are used it wouldn’t work.24 January. Watch a ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

by John Farrand.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 239 pp., $40, June 1990, 1 55670 134 9
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Weather Watch 
by Dick File.
Fourth Estate, 299 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 1 872180 12 4
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Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment 
edited by J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £40, September 1990, 9780521403603
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Crop Circles: The Latest Evidence 
by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews.
Bloomsbury, 80 pp., £5.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0843 7
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The Stumbling Block, Its Index 
by B. Catling.
Book Works, £22, October 1990, 9781870699051
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... Hackney aliens. A tasty ruck in Ridley Road market. The kind of affair witnessed by the youthful Harold Pinter. The chapel was a popular source of neighbourhood charity, handing out free shirts (black only), sturdy boots, to anyone who would join the movement. Now ownership rights are a dubious privilege. A group of Sikh developers are finding their ...


Ronald Bryden, 10 December 1987

The Life of Kenneth Tynan 
by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £16.95, September 1987, 9780297790822
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... books. Hence the cut-throat games of vocabulary-flashing and cultural reference pinned down by Harold Pinter and Joe Orton as Britain’s post-war national sport. Tynan, a bookish, unathletic boy, made this kind of competition his own. A compulsive player of word-games, he spattered his early writing with challenges to duels of literacy. A flip ...

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