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What happened to Edward II?

David Carpenter: Impostors

7 June 2007
The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the British Nation 
by Ian Mortimer.
Pimlico, 536 pp., £8.99, April 2007, 978 1 84413 530 1
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... as with Churchill, Edward’s reputation survived a long period of dotage. In the 19th century, as Ian Mortimer shows in the introduction to his new biography, Victorian rectitude and a preoccupation with constitutional history caused feelings about Edward to change. Bishop Stubbs, ‘peering down on the Middle Ages ...

Blood on the Block

Maurice Keen: Henry IV

5 June 2008
The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King 
by Ian Mortimer.
Vintage, 480 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 1 84413 529 5
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... more attractive dramatic possibilities in the characters of Richard, Hotspur and Prince Hal. Historians, however, cannot dodge the question of the character of the central actor in a vital series of events. Rather surprisingly, although Henry’s life and personality offer what K.B. McFarlane described as ‘a series of fascinating problems, mostly ...
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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... Sir Gordon is investigating allegations of corruption made against certain MPs by the Guardian newspaper. The allegations referred to payments and relationships between MPs, lobbyists and businessmen dating back more than ten years: ten years in which the media now berated by the Speaker displayed an almost unanimous reluctance to refer in any way to ...

Our Man

Perry Anderson: The Inglorious Career of Kofi Annan

10 May 2007
The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power 
by James Traub.
Bloomsbury, 442 pp., £20, November 2006, 0 7475 8087 1
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Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War 
by Stanley Meisler.
Wiley, 384 pp., £19.99, January 2007, 978 0 471 78744 0
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... and Stephen Schlesinger’s Act of Creation (2003), each the work of a serious diplomatic historian, little or nothing of analytic interest exists about the organisation, which has proved an intellectual sink-hole, down which swirl the drearily self-serving memoirs of its one-time functionaries and mind-numbing pieties from assorted well-wishers in the ...
10 January 1991
Stone Alone 
by Bill Wyman and Ray Coleman.
Viking, 594 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82894 7
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Blown away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of the Sixties 
by A.E. Hotchner.
Simon and Schuster, 377 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 671 69316 6
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Are you experienced? The Inside Story of the Jimi Hendrix Experience 
by Noel Redding and Carol Appleby.
Fourth Estate, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 1 872180 36 1
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I was a teenage Sex Pistol 
by Glen Matlock and Pete Silverton.
Omnibus, 192 pp., £12.95, September 1990, 0 7119 2491 0
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by George Michael and Tony Parsons.
Joseph, 242 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3435 4
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... who is most important. ‘No group is any better than its drummer,’ the Rolling Stones’ late piano player Ian Stewart tells A.E. Hotchner. ‘Drummers are the heart of a group,’ confirms Noel Redding of the Jimi Hendrix Experience: ‘a good one is worth his weight in gold.’ And here is the Sex Pistols’ Glen ...
4 September 1997
The Fu Manchu Omnibus: Vol. II 
by Sax Rohmer.
Allison and Busby, 630 pp., £9.99, June 1997, 0 7490 0222 0
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... Chesterton introduced a ‘colossus of crime’ who seemed to have strayed in from Comic Cuts: a giant Gascon called Flambeau who planted dummy pillar boxes in quiet suburbs in the hope of catching the odd postal order, and who ran a fraudulent dairy company without benefit of cows, his agents merely moving the milk containers outside other people’s doors ...


John Sutherland

4 June 1981
Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... name). Grown up, she is seduced and bullied into a septic abortion by her timid, clap-ridden fiancé Tim. He changes his mind, but too late: Sadie is sterile. Tim, now a selfish husband, knows this, but lets the ignorant heroine attend the infertility clinic for a year before some friendly lady gynaecologist breaks the male conspiracy of lies. Sadie’s ...

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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... me more than the thought of dying,’ he told a friend in 1958. He was 52, had a well-tried Christian faith and would live another 25 years. Betjeman sits most comfortably alongside the Goons or Tony Hancock, quirky depressives of the wireless age whose voices speak to a disenchanted, disconnected world, laughing it all off until the red light in the studio ...

Touch of Evil

Christopher Hitchens

22 October 1992
Kissinger: A Biography 
by Walter Isaacson.
Faber, 893 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 571 16858 2
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... political anti-Nazi circles and only found a mentor in the shape of one Fritz Kraemer, a Spenglerian Prussian who flourished in the US Army perhaps not least because he was one of the few German exiles to criticise Hitler from the right. Isaacson’s chapter on this man, who later disowned his famous junior for his total ...

Life at the Pastry Board

Stefan Collini: V.S. Pritchett

4 November 2004
V.S. Pritchett: A Working Life 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Chatto, 308 pp., £25, October 2004, 9780701173227
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... Tony Blair became prime minister. Pritchett’s family bumped along on that uneasy late Victorian border between the respectable artisans and the aspiring lower middle class. His father, a man with a limitless capacity for financial disaster, belonged to the Wellsian world of suburban shopkeepers and small ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh

7 November 2019
A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... the aftermath of the shooting, he recounted, his corporal of horse, Chudleigh, ‘a tough Bristolian’, had looked at him so solemnly ‘that I could not resist the temptation to say: “Kiss me, Chudleigh.”’ Having failed to get the historical reference, Chudleigh treated him ‘with some caution’ thereafter. Chudleigh himself denied the exchange had ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham

1 September 2005
Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... a Hardy-like figure who becomes the Grand Old Man of English Letters after seeing off late Victorian accusations of impropriety. Ashenden, who finds most of Driffield’s novels rather boring and melodramatic, has decided that elderly authors who have ‘ceased for twenty years to write anything of interest’ are respected in part because younger writers ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000

25 January 2001
... his head seems quite small and (appropriately) apple-like. We buy a luminous blue and white Victorian tile at Gabor Cossa which one of the partners thinks is William de Morgan but isn’t and then cross the road to the Fitzwilliam. I take in a chance selection of pictures, dictated by which happen to be in range of available banquettes, and in particular the ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods

21 January 1999
A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... to be lived out as part of the pain of the earth’. In a chapter entitled ‘The Pink Triangle’, Gregory Woods writes: After the ‘liberation’ of the camps by the Allies, those survivors who wore the pink triangle – denoting that they had been imprisoned as homosexuals – were treated as common criminals ...

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