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20 November 2014
Vivienne Westwood 
by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly.
Picador, 463 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 1 4472 5412 6
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... messages. It wasn’t what Westwood had wanted, though. She was hoping for revolution. ‘When I turned round, on the barricades,’ she says in Vivienne Westwood, an autobiography written with IanKelly (rather than the usual ghostwritten celebrity tosh), ‘there was no one there. That was how it felt. They were just still pogoing. So I lost interest.’ SEX in 1975. The prevailing impression ...

The Devil upon Two Sticks

Charles Nicholl: Samuel Foote

23 May 2013
Mr Foote’s Other Leg: Comedy, Tragedy and Murder in Georgian​ London 
by Ian Kelly.
Picador, 462 pp., £18.99, October 2012, 978 0 330 51783 6
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... good name for any comedian but for a one-legged comedian it’s unbeatable, and his misfortune was greeted with a gleeful salvo of puns and bon-mots, an echo of which can be heard in the title of IanKelly’s splendid new biography. Ever the theatrical opportunist, he was soon back onstage, with a new prosthesis and two new comedies fit for purpose: The Lame Lover, in which he played the ...

In His Sunday Suit

Stuart Kelly: Liam McIlvanney’s Novel

3 December 2009
All the Colours of the Town 
by Liam McIlvanney.
Faber, 329 pp., £12.99, August 2009, 978 0 571 23983 2
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... Sectarianism seldom plays any part in Scottish writing. One of the few exceptions – and the most pertinent to Liam McIlvanney’s novel – comes in Ian Rankin’s Mortal Causes (1994), the sixth in his bestselling Rebus series, whose plot hinges on the victim’s association with extreme Protestant groups. Mortal Causes was written in the run-up to ...

Glittering Fiend

Ian​ Hamilton: John Berryman

9 December 1999
Berryman's Shakespeare 
edited by John Haffenden.
Farrar, Straus, 396 pp., $35, February 1999, 0 374 11205 3
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John Berryman’s Personal Library: A Catalogue 
by Richard Kelly.
Lang, 433 pp., £39, March 1999, 0 8204 3998 3
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... suicide. Berryman, of course, is now himself the object of much academic scrutiny, some of which could scarcely be more dryasdust. What, I wonder, would he have made of ardent Berrymanes like Richard Kelly – editor ten years ago of Berryman’s letters to his mother (and of hers to him) and now the dogged itemiser of the poet’s book-hoard, or ‘personal library’, as it is rather grandly called ...

With Bit and Bridle

Matthew Kelly: 18th-Century Ireland

5 August 2010
Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves 
by Ian​ McBride.
Gill and Macmillan, 563 pp., £19.99, October 2009, 978 0 7171 1627 0
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... during the same period, the proportion of profitable land in Catholic ownership fell from 90 per cent to 5 per cent. Confiscation and settlement alone, however, did not secure the Ascendancy. As Ian McBride emphasises, the Franco-Jacobite threat was temporarily removed in 1713, when France recognised the Protestant succession as part of the Treaty of Utrecht. Paving the way for the Anglo-French ...
21 March 1996
... in spite of the fact that few details of the relationship are known and many of the ‘insights’ plain wrong. The Sunday Times, for example, was demonstrably mistaken when it announced that Gerry Kelly, one of Sinn Fein’s chief negotiators at Stormont, is a highly placed IRA man who is not even a member of the Party. Kelly, who was sentenced to life imprisonment after the 1973 Old Bailey bombing ...
7 February 1980
The Victorian​ Country House 
by Mark Girouard.
Yale, 470 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 300 02390 1
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The Artist and the Country House 
by John Harris.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 376 pp., £37.50, November 1980, 0 85667 053 7
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National Trust Studies 1980 
edited by Gervase Jackson-Stops.
Sotheby Parke Bernet, 175 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 85667 065 0
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... country houses produced during the following century. The book lacks completeness because Mr Harris excludes the few country-house painters of this century, notably Rex Whistler, John Piper and Felix Kelly, on the grounds that the tradition had been broken. As their work would scarcely have been disproportionately large had it been included, this is a pity, especially as, in the cases of Whistler and ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers

6 March 2008
... control. Guardsman Wakefield was told to provide top cover in the second of two ‘snatches’ – a V8 Land Rover, lightly armoured – which would travel the road out of Amara in the dark. Sergeant Ian Blackett was in the patrol’s first vehicle and had known Wakefield for five months. There were 14 men in the patrol and Wakefield was one of the most experienced. ‘He was a professional soldier ...

Lunacies

Ian​ Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’

23 October 2003
Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... in the failure to find endings adequate to narratives of relentless oppression. Though she argues for Bage’s merits as a novelist more strongly than even such perceptive predecessors as Gary Kelly or Marilyn Butler, Pamela Perkins balks at the novel’s romance ending. Walter Scott, who distrusted Bage’s politics, grudgingly praised the depiction of Hermsprong while asking: ‘But did such a ...

‘Who is this Ingrid Bergman?’

Gilberto Perez: Stroheim and Rossellini

14 December 2000
Stroheim 
by Arthur Lennig.
Kentucky, 514 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 8131 2138 8
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The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini 
by Tag Gallagher.
Da Capo, 802 pp., £16.95, October 1998, 0 306 80873 0
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... into the shots of cinema. Each shot is a detail, a section of an implied larger space; a film is put together as a succession of details – not unlike the narrative of particulars that according to Ian Watt constitutes the ‘formal realism’ of the novel. Had Griffith already achieved a novelistic ‘formal realism’? Not exactly. As a storytelling medium, cinema lies somewhere between theatre ...

Cocoa, sir?

Ian​ Jack: The Royal Navy

2 January 2003
Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy 1900-45 
by Christopher McKee.
Harvard, 285 pp., £19.95, May 2002, 0 674 00736 0
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Rule Britannia: The Victorian​ and Edwardian Navy 
by Peter Padfield.
Pimlico, 246 pp., £12.50, August 2002, 0 7126 6834 9
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... Pullen said, wore his oilskins day and night, and vomited all the time. In battle, gut-wrenching fear was the dominant emotion. A signalman described the consequences of an attack on the destroyer Kelly in 1940, on condition that he remained anonymous. That torpedo broke my nerve. Before, I always slung my hammock and undressed before getting into it, but after it I never slung it nor undressed when ...

Whisky and Soda Man

Thomas Jones: J.G. Ballard

10 April 2008
Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton – An Autobiography 
by J.G. Ballard.
Fourth Estate, 278 pp., £14.99, February 2008, 978 0 00 727072 9
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... Ballard says in his pre-emptive defence. (It’s difficult, too, to follow with much enthusiasm the stories of literary camaraderie or infighting. Ballard must have his reasons for dismissing Ian Hamilton, without deigning to name him, as a ‘self-important Soho idler’ who didn’t deserve Arts Council funding for the New Review, but the book would be more attractive without such spasms of ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves

6 June 2013
The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... isn’t saying much. A tireless workhorse of film biographies, Spoto has published 26 books, including a famously and unconvincingly negative life of Hitchcock, along with near hagiographies of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. His many years of friendship with Michael’s widow, Rachel, with whom he would have ‘late afternoon cups of strong tea at her flat in Flood Street, Chelsea’, incline him to ...
6 April 1995
Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
Zwemmer, 270 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 302 00648 6
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The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian​ Sewell.
Bloomsbury, 365 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1872 6
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... about a whole kind of art just not working – is very weak. I have my doubts about specifically ideas-based work, but it takes only one convincing counter-instance to overturn them – the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay, for example. (The fact that the world of Finlay’s thought is all his own is part of it; one may not normally ask artists to be original thinkers, but in this kind of work it seems ...

Love that Bird

Francis Spufford: Supersonic

6 June 2002
... rich either, but the gilded upper-crust celebrity rich, the jet set as they were when the phrase ‘jet set’ was first coined. Concorde was built to move Princess Margaret, Noël Coward, Grace Kelly and Ian Fleming around the world. It was built to carry them to Barbados for the winter, and to New York to go shopping; to Buenos Aires to watch the polo, and to South Africa to go on safari. Since ...

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