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Unreal Food Uneaten

Julian Bell: Sitting for Vanessa, 13 April 2000

The Art of Bloomsbury 
edited by Richard Shone.
Tate Gallery, 388 pp., £35, November 1999, 1 85437 296 3
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First Friends 
by Ronald Blythe.
Viking, 157 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 670 88613 0
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Bloomsbury in France 
by Mary Ann Caws and Sarah Bird Wright.
Oxford, 430 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 19 511752 2
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... My grandmother was the painter Vanessa Bell. She died aged 81 when I was eight. I loved my grandmother, but 39 years later I have few memories of her. If, that is, a ‘memory’ is some kind of private mental property. The picture I have of her may be faintly tinted by first-hand experience, but its contours come from public documentation ...

The Atmosphere of the Clyde

Jean McNicol: Red Clydeside, 2 January 2020

When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside 
by Maggie Craig.
Birlinn, 313 pp., £9.99, March 2018, 978 1 78027 506 2
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Glasgow 1919: The Rise of Red Clydeside 
by Kenny MacAskill.
Biteback, 310 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 1 78590 454 7
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John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside 
by Henry Bell.
Pluto, 242 pp., £14.99, October 2018, 978 0 7453 3838 5
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... The Sunday night meetings on Bath Street in the city centre that Maclean began in late 1914 are Henry Bell’s nomination, in his biography of Maclean, for ‘the birthplace of Red Clydeside’.The city itself became a huge armaments factory: the Clyde Munitions Area. Most of the industrial unrest during the war took place in the engineering ...

Woolsorters’ Disease

Hugh Pennington: The history of anthrax, 29 November 2001

... notion that this might be anthrax was put forward in the 1870s by doctors in Bradford, notably J. Henry Bell. In 1880, the local medical society set up a commission to investigate the cause of the disease, the Local Government Board appointed one of its inspectors to look at wool, and the Board of Agriculture asked a university scientist to investigate ...

Heliotrope

John Sutherland, 3 December 1992

Robert Louis Stevenson: Dreams of Exile 
by Ian Bell.
Mainstream, 295 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 1 85158 457 9
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... Ian Bell protests his disqualifications as a biographer rather too much: ‘I have approached Stevenson in the most unscholarly way. I am a journalist, and do not pretend to be anything else.’ But Bell, as he is at pains to point out, is a Scottish journalist and it is through the privilege of shared race and place of origin that he claims a blood-intimacy denied scholars ...

At the Ashmolean

Julian Bell: ‘Cézanne and the Modern’, 2 April 2014

... to wind up the colonial missionaries. These glimpses are from a strange sideways vantage. Henry Pearlman, the cold storage magnate whose collection has been transported to Oxford, got to know modern art backwards: his first serious purchases in the 1940s were of Ecole de Paris work from two decades earlier, and it was only later that he reached out ...

At the NPG

Jean McNicol: ‘Virginia Woolf’, 10 September 2014

... of the exposed side wall of the house. Some of the panels that Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell, and Duncan Grant had painted for the third-floor drawing room are, as Virginia told them, ‘still pendant’. ‘I cd just see a piece of my studio wall standing: otherwise rubble where I wrote so many books. Open air where we sat so many nights, gave so ...

Revolutionary Yoke

William Doyle: Le Nationalisme, 27 June 2002

The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism 1680-1800 
by David A. Bell.
Harvard, 304 pp., £30.95, November 2001, 0 674 00447 7
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... over Dublin was stridently denounced by self-styled Irish patriots, some of whom, such as Henry Flood, dreamed of forcing themselves into office thereby. Within a few years, the Dutch Republic would take up arms against the Prince of Orange, and these resisters, too, called themselves ‘patriots’. They were copied in the late 1780s by Belgians ...

Lord Eskgrove’s Indecent Nose

Rosalind Mitchison, 24 January 1980

Lord Cockburn: A Bicentenary Commemoration 
edited by Alan Bell.
Scottish Academic Press, 204 pp., £6, December 1980, 0 7073 0245 5
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... Henry Cockburn’s writings make him a vital historical source for the study of Scotland in what he called ‘the last purely Scotch age’. They cover the spread of the new industrial world and Georgian architecture, assaults on woodland and ancient monuments, the adaptation of refined society in Edinburgh to Evangelicalism, the threat of radical revolt, closer connections with England ...

Imperial

Nick Laird, 20 March 2003

... and also much cattle? Jonah 4.11 1 In A Popular Account of Discoveries at Nineveh (1854) Austin Henry Layard, the popular archaeologist and author, is again among the ruins by the dying of October, scattering some Arabs from a hostile tribe among the rest to keep acquainted with what’s said in tents behind his back and attentive to the threat of pilfered ...

Burke and Smith

Karl Miller, 16 October 1980

Sydney Smith 
by Alan Bell.
Oxford, 250 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 812050 8
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Burke and Hare 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 300 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 904919 27 7
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... and Ireland. The books can be said to stand at opposite ends of a spectrum of emotion. Alan Bell’s is cool, elegant, efficient, eminently printable, while the other smacks of excitement, adrenalin, and of an oral tradition. Smith is present in the Burke book, as an ideological partner of the Whig advocates who were briefed in the legal proceedings ...

Ranklings

Philip Horne, 30 August 1990

Henry James and Edith Wharton: Letters 1900-1915 
edited by Lyall Powers.
Weidenfeld, 412 pp., £25, May 1990, 9780297810605
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... is known, among other things, as the teller of the most devastating of the anecdotes displaying Henry James’s incapacity to communicate efficiently. The story told in her 1933 autobiography, A Backward Glance, has James, late one evening, attempt to ask a doddering Windsor pedestrian how their car can find its way to the address they want. After a page of ...

An American Genius

Patrick Parrinder, 21 November 1991

The Runaway Soul 
by Harold Brodkey.
Cape, 835 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 224 03001 9
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... had still to be written. Neither Melville, Twain, Faulkner nor Hemingway had quite managed it, and Henry James had defected to England. From Henry Miller to J.D. Salinger, any aspiring genius who did not have a shot at it was not doing his duty by Uncle Sam. The truth is, of course, that the GAN had long been written – for ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot, 3 February 2011

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... of ‘“Abstract” Painting and Sculpture’ that brought their English contemporaries – Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ivon Hitchens – into a common fold with Kandinsky, Miró, Calder and Arp, all then working in Paris. At roughly the same moment two or three shows of abstract art opened in London galleries. The press, to whom the phenomenon was ...

Hitting the buffers

Peter Wollen, 8 September 1994

Early Modernism: Literature, Music and Painting in Europe 1900-1916 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 318 pp., £27.50, April 1994, 0 19 811746 9
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... moved momentarily right into the forefront of early Modernism. Both Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell immediately began making abstract collages, or ‘arrangements’ as they called them, using fabrics and papiers collés. Picasso himself, it should be noted, did not make the same move to abstraction in his own collages, and neither did Braque or Gris. Nor ...

Foodists

John Bayley, 25 February 1993

A History of Food 
by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, translated by Anthea Bell.
Blackwell, 801 pp., £25, December 1992, 0 631 17741 8
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... virtues of the King Edward potato, adding perfunctorily that it was not ‘an eating potato’. Henry James would have seen the point. In 1870 he wrote to his elder brother William from Malvern, England, where the hotel fed him mostly on mutton and potatoes, to say how much he missed ‘unlimited tomatoes & beans & peas & squash & turnips & carrots & corn ...

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