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25 June 1987
... up To all our sessions: The LRB’s Karl Miller, gargoyle-like, Seems half-asleep. (The other half Is threatening to weep.) And from the TLS, Jerry Treglown Forever savouring some private joke, And IanHamilton, All-purpose lit. hist. hack, Invisible behind a cloud of smoke. This trio you can secretly disdain: Back numbers Here to wave the Impo flag We’re here to piss on. We post-cols Have ...

Two Poems

Ian Hamilton

14 January 2002
... Pretending not to Sleep The waiting rooms are full of ‘characters’ Pretending not to sleep. Your eyes are open But you’re far away At home, am Rhein, with mother and the cats. Your hair grazes my wrist. My cold hand surprises you. The porters yawn against the slot-machines And watch contentedly; they know I’ve lost. The last train is simmering outside, and overhead Steam flowers in the station ...

Two Poems

Ian Hamilton

2 March 1989
... Responsibilities Imagining you on your own, I’m vigilant. You’ve heard me, I can tell. A rustle in the kitchen leaves Above your head, a semi-stifled click Somewhere below, an errant chime An hour or so into your sleeplessness: Ghost tremors, They don’t keep you company, Not now, and they won’t bring me back, Not this time. ‘Please Leave me alone,’ I’ve heard you cry And you have heard ...

Two Poems

Ian Hamilton

19 April 2001
... Family Album In this one you look miles away And I’m wearing a tolerant half-smile That seems to say I’ve fixed things rather well. What things? The turreted edifice behind us I don’t recognise at all. Nor can I place These avenues of trees, abundant But municipal, well-kept. It’s evidently summertime, and getting late, A little before supper-bell, I’d guess, Or prayers. Another grainy, used-up ...

Three Poems

Ian Hamilton

2 February 1984
... Familiars If you were to look up now you would see The moon, the cars, the ambulance, The elevated road back into town.                                                      The river weeds You crouch in seem a yard shorter, A shade more featherishly purple Than they were this time last year; The caverns of ‘your bridge’ Less brilliantly jet black ...


Ian Hamilton

19 March 1987
... Your solicitor and mine sit side by side In front of us, in Courtroom Number Three. It’s cut and dried, They’ve told us, a sure-fire decree: No property disputes, no tug-of-love, No bitching about maintenance. Well done. All that remains Is for the Judge to ‘wrap it up’, and that’s how come We sit here, also side by side (Although to each of us we are ‘the other side’), And listen to ...

Four Poems

Ian Hamilton

3 August 1995
... Biography Who turned the page? When I went out last night his Life was left wide-open, halfway through, in lamplight on my desk: The Middle Years. Now look at him. Who turned the page? Steps Where do we find ourselves? What is this tale With no beginning and no end? We know not the extremes. Perhaps There are none. We are on a kind of stair. The world below Will never be regained; was never there Perhaps ...

Four Poems

Ian Hamilton

26 July 1990
... Soliloquy ‘We die together though we live apart’ You say, not looking up at me, Not looking up.                        ‘I mean to say, Even were we actually to die in unison, Evaporating in each other’s arms, We’d still have ended up – well, wouldn’t we? – Dying for a taste, our first and last, Of unaloneness:                we’d have dreamed ...

Main Man

Michael Hofmann

7 July 1994
Walking Possession: Essays and Reviews 1968-1993 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 302 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 7475 1712 6
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Gazza Italia 
by Ian Hamilton.
Granta, 188 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 14 014073 5
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... fall. There were three poets I had my eye on – probably all appalled to be mentioned in each other’s company, and by me: Joseph Brodsky, Tom Paulin and, most intimately though I knew him least, IanHamilton. When I sent him a copy of my first book, I realised I’d even purloined his initials for my title. I wasn’t of an age to have been reading, never mind submitting to, his magazines, The ...


Ian Hamilton

8 November 1979
A Coat of Varnish 
by C.P. Snow.
Macmillan, 349 pp., £5.95
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... The date of that evening was Tuesday, 6 July. That particular day had no significance in anything which was to follow; but there came to be some significance, which strangers didn’t completely understand, in the actual neighbourhood. Yes, you’d better read that again. Not all of C.P. Snow’s sentences are as fruitlessly demanding as this pair, but quite a few of them (certainly the longer ones ...

The Power of Des

Ian Hamilton: The screen rights to English Premier League Football

6 July 2000
... also known how to banter in the bath. Thus, it was hoped, would Des trump Gary’s ace. He was, unarguably, senior. But can he, or anyone, be truly senior on ITV? Is it possible to turn from, say, Ian Wright’s dreadful Chicken Tonight advertisement to, say, the ruminative countenance of Bobby Robson without feeling the need to interject some Des-like jest? Lynam’s current technique, with each ...

A to Z

Ian Hamilton: Schmidt’s List

4 March 1999
Lives of the Poets 
by Michael Schmidt.
Weidenfeld, 960 pp., £22, October 1998, 0 297 84014 2
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A Critical Difference: T.S. Eliot and John Middleton Murry in English Literary Criticism, 1919-28 
by David Goldie.
Oxford, 232 pp., £35, October 1998, 0 19 812379 5
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... to an Editor, and published by – yes – Carcanet. Browsing through this deeply dotty book the other day, as part of my Schmidt studies, I came across the following from DD to MS: ‘Death to IanHamilton and all his works.’ And there is more. I too, you see, was editing a magazine back then, the New Review (this was the early Seventies), and Davie, it seems, didn’t like it. ‘We have a patriotic ...


John Sutherland: Matthew Arnold

19 March 1998
A Gift Imprisoned: The Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold 
by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 241 pp., £17.99, March 1998, 0 7475 3671 6
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... ago (with its no-nonsense put-down of Honan’s Marguerite thesis). Threading a way through this crowd of card-carrying Arnoldians might have seemed rather daunting. As he tells us in his Preface, IanHamilton ‘several years ago ... had the idea of trying to write a full-scale biography of Matthew Arnold’. Since then the ambition has narrowed into something more purposive. His interest ...


John Sutherland

5 November 1992
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... A man of many literary parts, IanHamilton came to biography late and triumphantly with his life of the dead but still warm Robert Lowell. Riding high, he went on to attempt an unauthorised life of the aged but very much alive J.D. Salinger ...

Hard Man

Ian Hamilton

16 October 1980
Walk Don’t Walk The Camp From Scenes Like These 
by Gordon Williams.
Allison and Busby, 264 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 85031 309 0
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... Gordon Williams, formerly Gordon M. Williams: born 1934, educated at the John Neilson Institution in Paisley. Worked in Scotland as a farm labourer and newspaper reporter before undergoing National Service in Germany with the RAF. Has worked as a novelist for 16 years, based mainly in Soho but with a spell of rural isolation on the edge of Dartmoor. Two of his novels have been filmed, one of them netting ...

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