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Nicholas Hiley, 9 March 1995

Renegades: Hitler’s Englishmen 
by Adrian Weale.
Weidenfeld, 230 pp., £18.99, May 1994, 0 297 81488 5
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In from the Cold: National Security and Parliamentary Democracy 
by Laurence Lustgarten and Ian Leigh.
Oxford, 554 pp., £22.50, July 1994, 9780198252344
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... idea of nationality, even so complex an argument as that presented by Laurence Lustgarten and Ian Leigh in In from the Cold, is bound to fail. They take nationality for granted, and deny the possibility of loyalty to a free market in ideas. ‘The market’s purported virtue is precisely its impersonality,’ they write: ‘it is inconceivable ...

Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... with an answering machine. Grylls was hooked at once. He recommended the legendary lobbyist Ian Greer, who was approached by the hoaxers and, like Grylls, immediately hoodwinked. Lured to the bogus Park Lane offices Greer and his associates were filmed as they boasted about their powerful contacts in the Tory Party and the Government. Greer even ...

Snowdunnit

Ian Hamilton, 8 November 1979

A Coat of Varnish 
by C.P. Snow.
Macmillan, 349 pp., £5.95
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... and gets a bit of help on the side from our hero, a ruminative, world-weary ex-spy called Humphrey Leigh. But as a straight suspense tale, it doesn’t begin, or seem to want to, work. For example, it is clear to us a few pages after the murder that the ‘random thug’ theory can be discounted: there are no fingerprints, the killer knew the layout of the ...

A Question of Breathing

John Bayley, 4 August 1988

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... Charlotte a self-esteemer. Her example was easier to follow, much more influential. When Aurora Leigh was published in 1857, reviewers pointed out a striking resemblance to much in the plot of Jane Eyre. Romney Leigh, her cousin, whom the half-English half-Italian Aurora eventually marries, is blinded in a fire like Mr ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Da Vinci Code’, 8 June 2006

The Da Vinci Code 
directed by Ron Howard.
May 2006
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... already everywhere, but no one knew it. It’s the greatest cover-up in human history, to quote Ian McKellen quoting Dan Brown. During the Cannes screening of the film critics are said to have laughed when a crowd of bewigged ghosts shows up for Newton’s funeral in Westminster Abbey, forcing the live characters to elbow their way through the shades to ...

Bonded by the bottle

Michael Wood, 14 June 1990

Writers in Hollywood 
by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 326 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 434 31332 7
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... in a wicker chair, checking a page in his typewriter. The picture appears on the covers both of Ian Hamilton’s Writers in Hollywood and of Tom Dardis’s Some Time in the Sun and instantly announces several elements of a familiar legend. Even in black and white the image is full of warm shadows, and the uncropped version fills out the legend a ...

Olivier Rex

Ronald Bryden, 1 September 1988

Olivier 
by Anthony Holden.
Weidenfeld, 504 pp., £16, May 1988, 0 297 79089 7
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... that, after their star-crossed Romeo and Juliet on Broadway in 1940, Olivier and Vivien Leigh went to lick their wounds for a month in Vermont with ‘the Alexander Woollcotts’. The English period equivalent would be a month in the country with the Beverley Nicholses. Holden is sometimes forgetful, evacuating the wartime Old Vic in one chapter to ...

Provincialism

Denis Donoghue: Karlin’s collection of Victorian verse, 4 June 1998

The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Danny Karlin.
Allen Lane, 851 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780713990492
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... whole. His major precursors are Quiller-Couch, Yeats, Auden, George MacBeth, Christopher Ricks and Ian Fletcher. I don’t intend a Shopper’s Guide, but I’ll start with two small complaints. Unlike Fletcher, Karlin doesn’t give explanatory notes, except for a few dialect words and phrases in foreign languages. Reading Davidson’s ‘Thirty Bob a ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England, 20 December 2012

The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... savouring of the land – the ‘landscape’ – must overlap with more workmanlike uses of it. Ian Thompson’s history of the Lake District is grounded almost exclusively in the aesthetic. ‘Since the Lake District is an imaginative construction,’ he argues, ‘it has no real boundaries, physical or historical.’ So he is thinking of it as a region ...

His Own Peak

Ian Sansom: John Fowles’s diary, 6 May 2004

John Fowles: The Journals, Vol. I 
edited by Charles Drazin.
Cape, 668 pp., £30, October 2003, 9780224069113
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John Fowles: A Life in Two Worlds 
by Eileen Warburton.
Cape, 510 pp., £25, April 2004, 0 224 05951 3
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... too (‘peeping their horns out at today, like snails’), as are places like his home-town, Leigh-on-Sea (‘Snail-towns’). If you’re not a snail in his estimation, you’re probably a robot. He writes of a colleague: ‘This girl represents a sort of splendid physical machine one wants to set in motion.’ He hates ‘the ...

Diary

Simon Kelner: Murdoch strikes again, 6 July 1995

... had marched during the miners’ strike of 1984. As a local writer and arts administrator called Ian Clayton observed, with some prescience, two years earlier: ‘What would Fev be without rugby, or Cas or Leigh or anywhere? Small grey towns that had their day, that were born from coal and died with it, like so many in the ...

The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires, 31 March 2005

Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... Wilson (whom he once used to trump the BBC’s religious broadcasting department in a turf war), Ian Fleming and John Osborne. The bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood, surrounded by Arab boys, camp churchmen and Beverley Nichols, takes the credit for widening Betjeman’s horizons, leading him and Elizabeth Cavendish regularly abroad in a group that ...

Heart-Squasher

Julian Barnes: A Portrait of Lucian Freud, 5 December 2013

Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud 
by Martin Gayford.
Thames and Hudson, 248 pp., £12.95, March 2012, 978 0 500 28971 6
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Breakfast with Lucian: A Portrait of the Artist 
by Geordie Greig.
Cape, 260 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 224 09685 0
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... and greener, his canvases larger; some of his sitters grew larger too, culminating in the enormous Leigh Bowery and Sue Tilley the benefits supervisor (perhaps the most famous fat woman since Two-Ton Tessie O’Shea). Freud liked to emphasise his own incorrigibility, his instinct to do the opposite of what he was told to do; and several times in interviews he ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... Forces’ Minister. These include a directorship with the security firm Saladin Holdings. Edward Leigh was junior minister with responsibility for technology until he was removed by the Prime Minister. Since then he has amassed consultancies with Pinnacle Insurance, Inter-tanko and the mining group, the National Association of Licensed Opencast Operators, as ...

Lady Rothermere’s Fan

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 November 1985

The Letters of Ann Fleming 
edited by Mark Amory.
Collins, 448 pp., £16.50, October 1985, 0 00 217059 0
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... shows a doubtful sense of what’s what. Ann Fleming was married for 12 not very happy years to Ian Fleming, with whom she’d been infatuated for most of her life. Her previous husbands, Lord Rothermere, the owner of the Daily Mail, and Lord O’Neill, never counted for much, though she had had a glamorous life with Rothermere and had been in love with him ...

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