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Philip Purser

21 October 1993
The Expense of Glory: A Life of John Reith 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 447 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 00 215963 5
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... Reading Ian McIntyre’s new Life of Reith I found myself longing for just one deed, one word, one sentiment from the great man which I could admire. In public office, notably as the architect and first Director-General of the BBC, he may have achieved a number of admirable ends, if fewer than pious legend attributes to him ...

Malvolio’s Story

Marilyn Butler

8 February 1996
Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 461 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 00 215964 3
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... that great but mysterious poem, Wordsworth describes himself walking out on a moist, brilliant May morning. He is about to experience one of the numinous encounters for which he is famous – with another solitary walker, a derelict old man who makes his living gathering leeches from moorland ponds. Before that, his pleasure in the beauty of nature ...

A Light-Blue Stocking

Helen Deutsch: Hester Lynch Salusbury Thrale Piozzi

14 May 2009
Hester: The Remarkable Life of Dr Johnson’s ‘Dear Mistress’ 
by Ian McIntyre.
Constable, 450 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 1 84529 449 6
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... a heroine of old and new-fashioned marriage plots and a source of critical controversy. A brilliant conversationalist and an innovative recorder of her own life, she was dull only on the subject of her genealogy: her parents (who were cousins) were descended from Catrin of Berain, Mam Cymru (‘Mother of Wales’). Naming her is problematic. ...

Ahead of the Game

Daniel Finn: The Official IRA

7 October 2010
The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party 
by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar.
Penguin, 658 pp., £9.99, April 2010, 978 0 14 102845 3
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... In May 1977, Ian Paisley was in a television studio in Belfast when he bumped into Malachy McGurran, a leader of the Official IRA in Northern Ireland. At that time, Paisley was attempting to orchestrate a repeat of the loyalist workers’ strike that had defeated the Sunningdale power-sharing agreement three years earlier ...
6 February 1997
The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... became the ‘envy of the world’. Composers, conductors, dramatists, poets, philosophers, historians, politicians with something to say, said it on air, without undue constraint though never extempore – even supposedly spontaneous conversations were carefully scripted. Music was balanced with talk in a six-or-so-hour ...

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