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Among the Picts

John Sutherland

18 August 1994
Stained Radiance: A Fictionist’s Prelude 
by J. Leslie Mitchell.
Polygon, 219 pp., £7.95, July 1993, 0 7486 6141 7
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The Speak of the Mearns 
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Polygon, 268 pp., £8.95, June 1994, 0 7486 6167 0
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... Lewis Grassic Gibbon (the pen-name of James LeslieMitchell) is put forward as his country’s great 20th-century novelist: the Scottish D.H. Lawrence. Gibbon’s reputation substantially rests on A Scots Quair (‘quire’ – or ‘gathering of sheets ...

Scribbling Rascal

Leslie Mitchell

1 August 1996
John Wilkes 
by Peter D.G. Thomas.
Oxford, 280 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 19 820544 9
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... With a lamentable record in actually winning power, English Radicals have been content to comment on, be rude about and occasionally constrain those in office. To be tolerated by a conservative majority, a Radical should be as patriotic as any right-wing xenophobe, so disreputable in private life and judgment that the country would have no qualms about denying him office, and so good-hearted that the ...


William Thomas

16 October 1980
Holland House 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Duckworth, 320 pp., £18, May 1980, 9780715611166
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Genius in the Drawing-Room 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780297777700
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... who could show precisely what its contribution was to the Whig Party and more generally to 19th-century liberalism would have written an important book. At first sight, this seems to be what LeslieMitchell has set out to do. His title suggests a book about the house and its role, not a mere biographical study of its two most famous occupants. He writes of the house as if it had views and opinions of ...

Delighted to See Himself

Stefan Collini: Maurice Bowra

12 February 2009
Maurice Bowra: A Life 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Oxford, 385 pp., £25, February 2009, 978 0 19 929584 5
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... Greekless readership. Yet even as one is trying to make out the best case for Bowra, he has a way of emerging as a complete monster. It was already clear while he was an undergraduate, as LeslieMitchell acknowledges in this stylish, indulgent biography, that ‘Bowra’s company was not for the squeamish.’ He ‘aimed to be the arbiter of everything that was said and done’ in his circle. It was ...
2 October 1997
Lord Melbourne 1779-1848 
by L.G. Mitchell.
Oxford, 349 pp., £25, May 1997, 0 19 820592 9
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... to sit in a Room with a Chime of Bells, ten Parrots and one Lady Westmorland to sitting in a cabinet with Lord Macaulay’. Melbourne might have been more scathing still about his latest biographer, LeslieMitchell. Mitchell’s technique is to repeat – and repeat, and repeat again – his own unsympathetic spin on Melbourne’s well-charted weaknesses. His Melbourne is as monochrome as he is ...

Real Thing

John Naughton

24 November 1988
Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... to forgo a screen career. His successor in the Tory leadership, however, had no such inhibitions. In 1951 he made one of the first party politicals – a cod interview with the well-known broadcaster LeslieMitchell. It opened with Mitchell saying: Good evening, I would just like to say first that, as an interviewer, and as what I hope you will believe to be an unbiased member of the electorate, I’m ...

Steaming Torsos

J.​ Hoberman

6 February 1997
Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Chicago, 352 pp., £23.95, November 1996, 0 226 53234 8
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... history of Westerns: Henry Nash Smith’s classic Virgin Land is redolent of New Deal optimism, Robert Warshow’s much anthologised essay ‘The Westerner’ is a précis of Cold War concerns, Leslie Fiedler’s Return of the Vanishing American rescripts the West in countercultural terms and Richard Slotkin’s vast Gunfighter Nation is haunted by Vietnam. Lee Clark Mitchell’s elegantly written ...

The Real Thing

Jenni Quilter

20 April 2016
Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter 
by Cathy Curtis.
Oxford, 432 pp., £20.99, April 2015, 978 0 19 939450 0
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... entry into the museum; the painting fitted into the cab, but not through the revolving doors, and had to be taken in through a side entrance.) She was the first of her painter friends – Alfred Leslie, Mike Goldberg, Larry Rivers and Jane Freilicher – to be taken seriously by the academy. The following year, MoMA purchased River Bathers for $1000. The accolades piled up. In 1956, Hartigan was ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture

8 November 2012
... other people, and in the 1940s he thrived, voicing the RAF documentary Squadron 992 and appearing as the compere in the variety show Rainbow Round the Corner. Along with the BBC’s senior announcer, LeslieMitchell, he became a voice of authority, the tone of war and peace, the man whom people heard in the cinema on the newsreels produced by British Movietone. Gamlin was a star. Terence Gallacher, who ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family

18 June 2014
... us through the work of Berthold Brecht, while the nationalist head of English pitched us into Lewis Grassic Gibbon, and it didn’t seem as though they were pulling in opposite directions (as James LeslieMitchell, his real name, Gibbon was, after all, a socialist internationalist). For the rebellious, rebellion was still an individual, not a corporate activity; not the rebel as Mel-Gibson-as-William ...
25 April 1991
A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals of Virginia Woolf, 1897-1909 
edited by Mitchell​ Leaska.
Hogarth, 444 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 7012 0845 7
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A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 338 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 224 02234 2
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... too frequently. But more characteristic materials are the Lords and Commons and the Eton and Winchester cricket matches, the Boat Race, the Diamond Jubilee. Admittedly it is mildly amazing to find Leslie Stephen playing billiards in a pub, and there are quite interesting glimpses of turn-of-the-century London, the buses, the twopenny-ticket Underground, the four-wheelers, and so on. But most of these ...

Drugs, anyone?

Seamus Perry: George Meredith

17 June 2015
Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads 
by George Meredith, edited by Criscillia Benford and Rebecca Mitchell.
Yale, 390 pp., £40, April 2015, 978 0 300 17317 8
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... was all wire and whipcord,’ one of Meredith’s contemporaries recorded, ‘and his endurance, as I found out in more than one long exhausting walk and vigorous playful tussles, was unwearying.’ Leslie Stephen, one of Meredith’s friends, eulogised the effects of an invigorating tramp in the country in the true spirit: ‘You can consume your modest sandwiches, light your pipe, and feel more ...

Doctor Feelgood

R.W. Johnson

3 March 1988
Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home 
by Garry Wills.
Heinemann, 488 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 434 86623 7
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... just six years later – but this is exactly what happened. Reagan re-installed such Nixon stalwarts as Haig, Shultz, Weinberger and Casey, while Ed Meese and Larry Speakes gave imitations of John Mitchell and Ron Ziegler which had all but the cognoscenti fooled. This time, however, there were no residual concessions to the Eastern Establishment – no Harvard professors like Kissinger (indeed ...

Schadenfreude with Bite

Richard Seymour: Trolling

15 December 2016
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture 
by Whitney Phillips.
MIT, 256 pp., £10, September 2016, 978 0 262 52987 7
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Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral 
by Karla Mantilla.
Praeger, 280 pp., £32, August 2015, 978 1 4408 3317 5
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Bad Clowns 
by Benjamin Radford.
New Mexico, 188 pp., £12, February 2016, 978 0 8263 5666 6
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Trolls: An Unnatural History 
by John Lindow.
Reaktion, 60 pp., £9.99, August 2015, 978 1 78023 565 3
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... Trolls​ are the self-styled pranksters of the internet, a subculture of wind-up merchants who will say anything they can to provoke unwary victims, then delight in the outrage that follows. When Mitchell Henderson, a 12-year-old boy from Minnesota, killed himself in 2006, trolls descended on his MySpace page, where his friends and relatives were posting tributes. The trolls were especially taken with ...
15 November 1984
... a number of experiments in the late 1920s and early 1930s – among them Harold Nicolson’s delightful vignettes Some People, Lytton Strachey’s psychological melodrama Elizabeth and Essex and A.J.A. Symons’s detective mystery. The Quest for Corvo – all designed to find more imaginative and adventurous ways of writing non-fiction. What these authors were trying to do was to release ...

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