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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 ...

The Atmosphere of the Clyde

Jean McNicol: Red Clydeside

22 December 2019
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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... Maxton to Marx), made themselves unpopular with the school board by speaking at anti-war meetings. The Sunday night meetings on Bath Street in the city centre that Maclean began in late 1914 are HenryBell’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 ...

Woolsorters’ Disease

Hugh Pennington: The history of anthrax

29 November 2001
... Many never had time to call a doctor; some dropped dead without having shown any symptoms at all. The notion that this might be anthrax was put forward in the 1870s by doctors in Bradford, notably J. HenryBell. 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 ...

At the NPG

Jean McNicol: ‘Virginia Woolf’

10 September 2014
... to a portrait’ by looking at ‘telling ingredients in each period of her life’, is a blown-up photograph 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 ...

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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... begun his reign glorying in the name of Briton. Across the Irish Sea, the legislative hegemony of Westminster 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 ...


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. The key to Stevenson’s ...
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 ...


Nick Laird

20 March 2003
... more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, 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 ...

At the Ashmolean

Julian Bell: ‘Cézanne and the Modern’

2 April 2014
... is a performance artist putting out bad-boy bluster – a lewd, crude nameplate for his Tahiti bungalow – 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 ...

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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... talk of the Great American Novel was still fashionable. The Great American Novel, it was believed, 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 ...
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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... books resemble their subjects in having themselves come to live in the city from, respectively, England 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 ...
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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... them for his collages. Thus Blooms-bury played its part. In fact, as a result of this visit, Bloomsbury 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 ...


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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... of smoked mushroom in the market at Kiev. He was not unlike the old gardener who waxed eloquent on the 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 ...

Making sentences

Philip Horne

21 November 1991
The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry​ James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... history of ideas, rather than the creatively psycho-biographical perspectives powerfully applied to the family’s relations and texts, soon after his death, by Leon Edel in his multi-volume life of Henry James. As a Harvard professor, Matthiessen had been, under the terms laid down by the James estate, one of the very few permitted to use the huge family archive in the Houghton Library: in effect, as ...

Boxes of Tissues

Hilary Mantel

6 March 1997
As If 
by Blake Morrison.
Granta, 245 pp., £14.99, February 1997, 1 86207 003 2
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... that the story has some basis in fact. Why has it stuck with him into adult life? Did he entirely believe in it, when he first came across it? And where was that? Was it a school history lesson? Henry Treece’s novel, published 1958? Fine prose makes the memory work. I myself first read about the Children’s Crusade in a weekly magazine called Look and Learn. This publication was approved by ...

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