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Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’, 22 April 2010

Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... he promises to appoint himself to the chairmanship of the Best Kept Nation committee. In the Hugo Young memorial lecture last November, he said: If we stick the course and change this country then we will have a national life expanded with meaning and mutual responsibility. We will feel it in the strength of our relationships – the civility and ...

Skimming along

Ross McKibbin, 20 October 1994

The Major Effect 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 500 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62273 1
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... guidance, particularly where contributors have different views of the same events. For example, Hugo Young in his essay on Mr Major writes that ‘by general consent it was he and not the Party that triumphed in April 1992’; but Ivor Crewe in his essay on the electorate argues that ‘in fact, Major’s boost to the Conservative vote was probably ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories, 24 January 2013

The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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... ultimate crime of not being Margaret Thatcher’, and he became, in the words of the late Hugo Young, ‘a permanently contingent leader’. But he was not alone. Since Major no post-Thatcher Tory has been wholeheartedly accepted throughout the party as the legitimate leader of Conservatism. The rejection of Thatcher by her purported followers ...

Monsieur Apollo

John Sturrock, 13 November 1997

Victor Hugo 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 682 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 330 33707 6
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... writing to his sister in Rouen to tell her of the evening he had spent with, among others, Victor Hugo: I took pleasure in studying him closely; I gazed at him with astonishment, like a casket in which there were millions and a king’s diamonds, reflecting on all that had come from this man now sitting beside me on a small chair, and fixing my eyes on the ...

Let them cut grass

Linda Colley, 16 December 1993

The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... opponents. It was bitter men from the Premier’s own party who were in at the kill, the impatient young, together with those no longer young whose ambitions had been too long frustrated. But even the loss of power had its compensations. There was a peerage and a fortune. The Premier’s children, too, had been enriched by ...

Don’t worry about the pronouns

Michael Wood: Iris Murdoch’s First Novel, 3 January 2019

Under the Net 
by Iris Murdoch.
Vintage, 432 pp., £9.99, July 2019, 978 1 78487 518 3
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... Alzheimer’s disease. But there is no sense of the writer in the film. We just get the sprightly young woman, the honoured dame and the person lost in her later life. What did I want? Shots of Murdoch at her desk? Walking around, waiting for inspiration? No, just a feeling, on film or in criticism, that the writing, the construction of sentences and the ...

Mrs Berlioz

Patrick Carnegy, 30 December 1982

Fair Ophelia: A Life of Harriet Smithson Berlioz 
by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 216 pp., £12.95, September 1982, 0 521 24421 8
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Mazeppa: The Lives, Loves and Legends of Adah Isaacs Menken 
by Wolf Mankowitz.
Blond and Briggs, 270 pp., £10.95, September 1982, 0 85634 119 3
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... suddenly became a central part of French consciousness and the preoccupation of writers such as Hugo and Dumas. The young Berlioz worshipped her from afar, but so intensely that he nearly had a mental breakdown. She became the inspiration and programme of the Symphonie Fantastique. Eventually he married her. But by the ...

Sorry to decline your Brief

Stephen Sedley, 11 June 1992

Judge for yourself 
by James Pickles.
Smith Gryphon, 242 pp., £15.99, April 1992, 1 85685 019 6
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The Barrister’s World 
by John Morison and Philip Leith.
Open University, 256 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 335 09396 5
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by David Pannick.
Oxford, 305 pp., £15, April 1992, 0 19 811948 8
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... had silenced it for generations.’ Not quite true, as it happens. In the mid-Eighties, Hugo Young did a radio programme on the law. Hailsham, the then Lord Chancellor, would not waive the rules, but Lord Templeman, a law lord who was effectively beyond his reach, went on the programme anyway and broke the taboo, which Mackay abandoned when he ...


Tim Parks: Victor Hugo’s Ego, 4 May 2017

The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of ‘Les Misérables’ 
by David Bellos.
Particular, 307 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 84614 470 7
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... Any reflection​ on Victor Hugo risks degenerating into a procession of superlatives. Poet, dramatist, novelist, romantic, reactionary, revolutionary, mystic, miser and indefatigable philanderer: without him French literature, French politics of the 19th century are unimaginable. The scope of his ambition, the range of his genius, the vastness of his output, the extent of his appetite, the audacity of his opportunism and the oceanic immensity of his self-regard prompt awe – as well as sentences like these, cumulative and insistent, as his own so often were ...

My father says

Brian Dillon: Hugo Hamilton, 23 March 2006

The Sailor in the Wardrobe 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £16.99, February 2006, 0 00 719217 7
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... myself, for the first time, somehow insufficiently Irish. The two autobiographical volumes that Hugo Hamilton has now devoted to his early years in a coastal Dublin suburb in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s amount to a study of the ways in which a national history insinuates itself into the mind of a child.* Perhaps the sense of not being Irish enough ...


Elaine Showalter: At Sundance, 22 February 2001

... up like Sherpas in our boots and sheepskins, boarding the plane to Utah with a contingent of young New Yorkers with pony tails talking into cellphones and carrying skis. They are buyers, development executives, actors, journalists, publicists, directors and producers, heading for the Sundance Film Festival, where they will wheel and deal. We are not here ...

Aspects of My Case

Hugo Williams, 21 April 1983

... Roc and Monkey Island Hotel. I turned the pages slowly, listening for the car, till my father was young again, a soldier, or throwing back his head on slicked-back Derby Days before the war. I stared at all that fame and handsomeness and thought they were the same. Good looks were everything where I came from. They made you laugh. They made you have a ...
Anaïs Nin 
by Deirdre Bair.
Bloomsbury, 654 pp., £20, April 1995, 0 7475 2135 2
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Conversations with Anaïs Nin 
edited by Wendy Dubow.
Mississippi, 254 pp., $37.95, December 1994, 0 87805 719 6
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... many of them were supported financially by Nin, or more accurately, by her besotted husband Hugo, who on marrying Anaïs had the great good sense to become a banker rather than the poet he had hoped to be. Even with a substantial salary, Hugo was unable to keep up his wife’s payouts without eventually falling into ...

High o’er the fence leaps Sonny Jim

Hugo Williams, 23 April 1987

... shaking hand to feel his head. ‘I’ve been tricked!’ he cried. ‘That’s not the face of a young prince, it’s Father after his operation. Is that why you’ve shaved off all his hair?’ ‘Not at all, Your Majesty,’ I lied. ‘Your Majesty wears his hair too long for the current fashion. We want it to look just right for the Coronation.’ ‘Who ...

From the Dialysis Ward

Hugo Williams, 24 January 2013

... via a gate set in the cemetery wall to the Mary Rankin Wing of St Pancras Hospital. As a young man, Thomas Hardy supervised the removal of bodies from part of the cemetery to make way for the trains. He placed the headstones round an ash tree sapling, now grown tall, where I stop sometimes to look at the stones crowding round the old tree like ...

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