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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 from the twin heights of an episcopal ...

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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... of fascinating problems, mostly unsolved’, they have been chary of taking up this challenge. Ian Mortimer’s The Fears of Henry IV fills an important gap, and if it does not solve all the problems it certainly tackles most of them. In the years before 1397, Henry won a large reputation: as his father’s dutiful son, as a champion of ...

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 ...

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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... needed, since Annan’s own powers of expression were wooden to say the least. This pair, Edward Mortimer and Nader Mousavizadeh, came from the Financial Times and the New Republic respectively, two publications whose political profiles need little specification. Not surprisingly, Annan’s various pronouncements, applauded for their eloquence by like-minded ...

Badoompa-doompa-doompa-doom

Graham Coster, 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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Bare 
by George Michael and Tony Parsons.
Joseph, 242 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3435 4
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... 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 Matlock on drummer Paul Cook: ‘that steady rhythm ...

Sisters

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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... with the pre-Portnoy, and much more reserved, My friend says it’s bulletproof by Penelope Mortimer. But Tit for Tat has none of Roth’s or Jong’s jollity – the secrets are dirtier and much more frightening. Bargate’s narrative tone is traumatised and post-operative. What literary flourishes she offers are flattened by the awful obsession ...

A Very Good Job for a Swede

E.S. Turner, 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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... dismissed the Fu Manchu tales as ‘absolute rubbish, penny dreadfuls in hard covers’, but John Mortimer was happy to include the fiend with ‘a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan’ in his Oxford Book of Villains. On the cover of Volume Two of this Omnibus a voice from Time Out exclaims: ‘These long-awaited reprints make my heart sing.’ So ...

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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... of whom was ever dusted off or taken down. Nor did its unconvincing blank verse impress Raymond Mortimer or even Philip Larkin, who warned Murray his review would not be ‘a rave’. Others simply parodied Betjeman’s more familiar tum-ti-tum verses, which, as the Sunday Express showed, was all too easy: Have you read the latest ...

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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... published which described Jesus having sex with a variety of men, including Pontius Pilate. John Mortimer and Geoffrey Robertson appeared for the defence, but lost. Gay News was fined and its publisher given a suspended prison sentence. ‘I have an open mind about queer-bashing,’ Waugh’s diary reflected, ‘from one point of view it seems rather cruel ...

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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... gamely but irrelevantly does, is like poring for clues over the crabbed, cretinous scrawl of Ian Brady. Such a man needs scope. Scope! And scope is what, by relentless fawning on impressionable creatures, Henry finally got. It’s a tale well worth the telling. When the American élite divided over the war in Vietnam, Kissinger was in a ...

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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... Second World War which turned him from a reviewer into a critic. New books were scarce, so Raymond Mortimer, the Statesman’s literary editor, set Pritchett to filling the ‘Books in General’ slot with essays on classic authors, French and Russian as well as English. Perhaps we tend now to romanticise the circumstances in which these essays were originally ...

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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... presence. On another occasion, Maugham ‘gave him an icy stare’ as Ann Fleming – wife of Ian – chastised him ‘by banging a serving spoon on his offensively prominent ear trumpet’. Christopher Isherwood, on the other hand, found that Maugham’s stammer ‘somehow made you feel that you were stammering, not he’. Raymond ...

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 Spenser Junior in the play have failed to accept and understand that Edward preferred men. Mortimer Senior, in a speech in the play, seems to believe that Edward’s relationship with Gaveston was in a long tradition, but that he would grow out of it: And seeing his mind so dotes on Gaveston, Let him without controlment have his will. The mightiest ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... a process which, if properly undertaken, is slow, painstaking and, more often than not, dull. Sir Mortimer Wheeler probably started the rot and then there was Glyn Daniel and his bow ties and today it’s Tony Robinson capering about professing huge excitement because of the uncovering of the (entirely predictable) foundations of a Benedictine priory at ...

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