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Lorna Sage: Henry Green

25 January 2001
Romancing: The Life and Work of Henry Green 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Faber, 340 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 571 16898 1
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... Henry Green put in an incongruous cameo appearance in Jeremy Treglown’s 1994 biography of Roald Dahl. When an interviewer from the Houston Post asked the bestselling author of the low-life and hilarious ‘adult’ short-story collection Someone like You who his favourite British writer was, he answered loftily: ‘Henry Green ...

Admiring

Stephen Wall

26 March 1992
Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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Loving 
by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... Henry Green’s literary career began precociously and ended prematurely. According to his son Sebastian Yorke, the future novelist was already ‘writing hard’ at eleven or twelve, under a different pseudonym from the one he later adopted. At Eton he was a founder member of a Society of Arts, and his adolescent pose as an aesthete fostered some paragraphs which are subjected to a withering critique in his remarkable self-portrait Pack My Bag, written in 1938-9 under the threat of war and now reissued ...
22 May 1980
On the Edge of the Cliff 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 179 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 7011 2438 5
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The Tale Bearers: Essays on English, American and Other Writers 
by V.S. Pritchett.
Chatto, 223 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 7011 2435 0
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... secret proselytisers for their own work; they are all secret agents. As Pritchett says of Graham Greene’s Collected Essays, ‘let the academics weigh up, be exhaustive, or build their superstructures – the artist lives as much by his pride in his own emphasis as by what he ignores; humility is a disgrace.’ Pritchett’s judgments are emboldened by ...

Brown Goo like Marmite

Neal Ascherson: Memories of the Fog

8 October 2015
London Fog: The Biography 
by Christine Corton.
Harvard, 408 pp., £22.95, November 2015, 978 0 674 08835 1
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... The word ‘smog’ was invented in 1904 to describe fog by the ‘Smoke Abatement’ campaigner Henry des Voeux, and transferred only later to chemical air pollution by powered traffic. ‘London Particular’, on the other hand, had a much longer history. Charles Dickens is supposed to have thought it up for an 1851 article about conditions in ...
5 May 1988
S.: A Novel 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 244 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 233 98255 8
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... surely, is what it wasn’t – other-indulgent, rather. My models were the styles of Proust and Henry Green as I read them (one in translation): styles of tender exploration that tried to wrap themselves around the things, the tints and voices and perfumes, of the apprehended real.’ The words that stand out in Updike’s description of what he is up ...

D&O

John Lanchester

5 June 1997
Journals 1990-92 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 238 pp., £20, May 1997, 0 434 00430 8
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... The atmosphere of the nightclub, its unglamorous seediness – it’s not a den of iniquity or a Greeneish theatre of vice, it’s just a place where a lot of people go and waste time and nothing much happens. The relationship between Pringle and Atwater, locked in a struggle for psychological and financial supremacy – in other words, ‘friends’. The ...

A Very Modern Man

Edmund Gordon: William Boyd

8 March 2012
Waiting for Sunrise 
by William Boyd.
Bloomsbury, 368 pp., £18.99, February 2012, 978 1 4088 1774 2
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... an English author who knocks about Oxford and London with the likes of Cyril Connolly and Henry Green, reports on the Spanish Civil War from Barcelona (where he gets drunk with Hemingway), is recruited to Naval Intelligence by Ian Fleming and dispatched to Portugal to spy on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, becomes a prisoner of war in ...

Boulevard Brogues

Rosemary Hill: Having your grouse and eating it

13 May 1999
Girlitude: A Memoir of the Fifties and Sixties 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1999, 0 224 05952 1
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... Even this she goes about obliquely. Having begun to want to write, she marries the son of Henry Yorke (the novelist Henry Green), though it was the father rather than Sebastian (‘the poor young man I married’) who attracted her. After a spell of forlornly playing house, buying crockery like her ...

A Bit of a Lush

Christopher Tayler: William Boyd

23 May 2002
Any Human Heart 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 504 pp., £17.99, April 2002, 9780241141779
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... contracts a number of marriages and meets just about everyone worth meeting. Anthony Powell and Henry Green are his contemporaries at Oxford; he takes tea with Ottoline Morrell and twits Virginia Woolf. Cyril Connolly and Evelyn Waugh are London acquaintances. Picasso sketches his portrait, Hemingway is a fellow war correspondent, and Paris brings a ...
20 June 1985
... the Fens that Evelyn Waugh was the greatest English novelist of his generation. Certainly Graham Greene, Henry Green and Angus Wilson thought so, although they and not he won the worldly honours Waugh would dearly have loved. On the other hand, that redoubtable holder of the Order of Merit, J.B. Priestley, did not ...
25 April 1991
... die ‘when cruel old campaigners win safe through’. Epitaphs apart, what will survive of Graham Greene? Not love, certainly; nor the famously tortured guerrilla of Roman Catholicism, fighting and writing for and against the Church from inside and outside it, and all the more effective a partisan and publicist on its behalf when he seemed most spectacularly ...

Love in the Ruins

Nicolas Tredell

8 October 1992
Out of the Rain 
by Glyn Maxwell.
Bloodaxe, 112 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 1 85224 193 4
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Body Politic 
by Tony Flynn.
Bloodaxe, 60 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 129 2
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Red 
by Linda France.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 178 0
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Red-Haired Android 
by Jeremy Reed.
Grafton, 280 pp., £7.99, July 1992, 9780586091845
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Leaf-Viewing 
by Peter Robinson, with an essay by Peter Swaab.
Robert Jones, 36 pp., £9.95, July 1992, 0 9514240 2 5
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... In Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, the Prince found by the River Thames ‘a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber’. Of course, the truth of the ancient state, like the truth of the British state at the turn of the 19th century, was not necessarily a wholly savoury one ...

Baby Face

John Bayley

24 May 1990
William Gerhardie: A Biography 
by Dido Davies.
Oxford, 411 pp., £25, April 1990, 0 19 211794 7
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Memoirs of a Polyglot 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 381 pp., £5.95, April 1990, 0 86072 111 6
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Futility 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 198 pp., £4.95, April 1990, 0 86072 112 4
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God’s Fifth Column: A Biography of the Age 1890-1940 
by William Gerhardie, edited by Michael Holroyd and Robert Skidelsky.
Hogarth, 360 pp., £8.95, April 1990, 0 7012 0887 2
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... and The Polyglots and taste a sort of comprehensive ur-flavour of the inter-war novel, from Graham Greene to Henry Green. And yet his words and sentences, unlike theirs, are never quite in place, never quite add up to a novelist’s ‘world’, the sort that has a good chance of standing outside time. But Gerhardie had ...
4 December 1980
The Letters of Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Mark Amory.
Weidenfeld, 664 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77657 6
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... early years of the century proudly built himself a pebble-dash villa between Hampstead and Golders Green, where Evelyn was brought up. Evelyn’s older brother, Alec, the indefatigable popular novelist, now 82 and living in Tangier, has always regarded his background with pride, and his parents with affection – as may be learned from his numerous ...

Flings

Rosemary Hill: The Writers’ Blitz

21 February 2013
The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War 
by Lara Feigel.
Bloomsbury, 519 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3044 4
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... Feigel unravels the tangled web, concentrating on the experiences of six novelists: Bowen, Graham Greene, Henry Yorke (who wrote as Henry Green), Rose Macaulay, Rosamond Lehmann and the Austrian émigrée Hilde Spiel. The combination of danger and novelty made the times ‘an ...

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