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What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... but, all the same, Wright is perhaps rather too hard on them. In her biography of Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee describes Lehmann as one of the ‘ambitious, thwarted, talented young men’ who ‘rubbed up against Leonard’s adamantine proprietariness and perfectionism ... It was a well-known joke among their friends that working at the Hogarth Press ...

Happy Bunnies

John Pemble: Cousin Marriage, 25 February 2010

Incest and Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 296 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 674 03589 8
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... already well investigated. If you’ve read David Newsome, Annan himself, Michael Holroyd and Hermione Lee on the Wilberforces, Leslie Stephen, Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf, you’re likely to know what’s coming before you’ve turned the page – and there’s a limit to the appeal even of Clapham psychodrama and Bloomsbury libido. But some ...

Diary

Tom Crewe: The Queen and I, 1 August 2019

... John Wilson Croker’s new edition of Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, and emphasised, as Hermione Lee has noted, how biography, by recording ‘many a little Reality’, can make the reader see the world as it existed around the central figure, its depths and contours suggested by his or her ramifying contacts and associations. He gave as an ...
The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen 
introduced by Angus Wilson.
Cape, 782 pp., £8.50, February 1981, 0 224 01838 8
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Elizabeth Bowen: An Estimation 
by Hermione Lee.
Vision, 225 pp., £12.95, July 1981, 9780854783441
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... arm, is meanwhile fondling the right hand of Daphne seated on his left. After a tormented and sleepless night Portia is driven by her incomprehension of the ways of the (‘edited’?) world to ask Daphne please to explain to her about this holding of Eddie’s hand. Daphne after two seconds of amazed silence erupts in Vesuvian rage, unable in her turn to ...

Into Council Care

John Bayley, 6 July 1995

Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel 
by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle.
Macmillan, 208 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 333 60760 0
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... and all the rest of it. This is perhaps a trifle unfair to the good work done previously by Hermione Lee and Victoria Glendinning, to name but two more orthodox critics: but it does indeed help – and very strikingly – to remove Bowen from the socially feminine personality on which her admirers used fondly to dote, and see how far she can run ...

Short Cuts

Deborah Friedell: American Girls, 8 March 2007

... and she becomes ‘no longer capable of following the action on the stage’. So it was with me. Hermione Lee’s biography of Edith Wharton was published on 1 February. On 2 February, I sat behind Professor Lee to watch Happy Days at the National. In Wharton’s story ‘His Father’s Son’, a man stealthily ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... Stephen noted), but with the help of his indefatigable assistant and eventual successor, Sidney Lee, the ship was put back on an even keel. Curiously, although the Grosart debacle, fully documented in John Bicknell’s edition of Stephen’s letters, is briefly mentioned in Alan Bell’s exemplary entry on Stephen in the ODNB, these misdemeanours make no ...

Harnessed to a Shark

Alison Light: Who was Virginia Woolf afraid of?, 21 March 2002

Three Guineas 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Naomi Black.
Blackwell, 253 pp., £60, October 2001, 0 631 17724 8
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... capitalism (The Roots of War, published by the Hogarth Press in the same year, took this line). As Hermione Lee pointed out in her biography of Woolf, Three Guineas reiterates much of the debate over peace and war which split the Left in the mid-1930s, but whose complexity, it might be added, has disappeared beneath the weight of that derogatory ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 7 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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Books 
by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... St Aubyn’s chair of judges, a backbench MP called Malcolm Craig, shows no overlap with either Hermione Lee (2006) or Robert Macfarlane (2013). The Elysian judges for 2013 are Jo Cross, a columnist whose criterion for imaginative literature is its ‘relevance’; Penny Feathers, retired from the Foreign Office and attempting to write topical ...

His Dark Example

Colin Burrow: ‘The Book of Dust’, 4 January 2018

The Book of Dust, Vol. I: La Belle Sauvage 
by Philip Pullman.
David Fickling, 546 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 0 385 60441 3
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Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling 
by Philip Pullman.
David Fickling, 480 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 1 910200 96 4
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... warmth (they are non-identical twins). There were some books, it’s true, over which I fell asleep. Reading The Hobbit aloud enabled me to acquire the skill of slicing out three unnecessary subordinate clauses from a sentence without making it look as though I was skipping anything at all. Reading the Alex Rider series made me long to break free of the ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... of human lives and relationships, and also the most pleasurable. ‘Biography,’ as Hermione Lee says, ‘has so much to do with blame.’ Biographers deal in the back and forth of accusations. I could sniff the mud clinging to them, and if I somehow knew they might bore or disgust me, it may be that I feared they might excite me too. But ...

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