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Making up

Julian Symons

15 August 1991
Lipstick, Sex and Poetry 
by Jeremy Reed.
Peter Owen, 119 pp., £14.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0817 1
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A poet could not but be gay 
by James Kirkup.
Peter Owen, 240 pp., £16.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0823 6
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There was a young man from Cardiff 
by Dannie Abse.
Hutchinson, 211 pp., £12.99, April 1991, 0 09 174757 0
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String of Beginners 
by Michael Hamburger.
Skoob Books, 338 pp., £10.99, May 1991, 1 871438 66 7
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... finds him with ‘a red gash of lipstick’ on his mouth, pondering whether to take the ten steps down to a beach where men sunbathe nude. He is androgynous, 16, ‘looking for a new species’. JamesKirkup also admits to androgyny and to a passion for make-up, from childhood when he experimented with his mother’s make-up box, through the time when, as head of the English Department at the Bath ...
22 November 1990
... that Wilson himself believes it, and has interpreted his hazy recollections of a conversation with Dora Russell in the light of that belief. Something similar, I suspect, is going on in the case of JamesKirkup. I was alerted to the case of Kirkup by a letter to the Independent from Christopher Sykes, a television producer whom I met when he was making a programme about Wittgenstein for the BBC ...

Love Stories

Edmund White

4 November 1993
To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life: A Novel 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Quartet, 246 pp., £12.95, November 1991, 9780704370005
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The Man in the Red Hat 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 111 pp., £12.95, May 1993, 0 7043 7046 8
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The Compassion Protocol 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 202 pp., £13.95, October 1993, 9780704370593
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... bedside of a dead ballet dancer, begins a new journal (‘It is when what I am writing takes the form of a journal that I most strongly feel that I am writing fiction’). Beautifully translated by JamesKirkup, the book brings together themes such as Guibert’s intermittent fight to survive, his continuing struggle to write, to deal with his parents, to find the proper treatment, even to accept his ...


Frank Kermode: Blasphemy

14 January 2002
Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the 17th to the 19th Century 
by Alain Cabantous, translated by Eric Rauth.
Columbia, 288 pp., £21.50, February 2002, 0 231 11876 7
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... News and the subsequent failure in the House of Lords of an attempt to get rid of it. I’m not sure whether to believe it, but am told it is even now a criminal offence to own a copy of the poem by JamesKirkup that upset Mrs Whitehouse. Would one be guilty of blasphemy? So nobody can say exactly what blasphemy means in our world, only that it is, from case to case, whatever the judges decide ...

Son of God

Brigid Brophy

21 April 1983
by Robert Liebert.
Yale, 447 pp., £25, January 1983, 0 300 02793 1
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The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse 
edited by Stephen Coote.
Penguin, 410 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 14 042293 5
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... what idea that can convey. Dr Coote’s selection, which is chronologically ordered, comprehends everyone you might, after considerable searching, expect, including Sappho, Katherine Philips and JamesKirkup (represented by two poems and a note simply stating why the text of the blasphemy-case poem is not printed), and some (to me at least) surprises, such as Wordsworth, Alcuin, Edmund Waller and ...
28 September 1989
The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... he joined the BBC and shortly afterwards began the distinguished career as Literary Editor of the Listener which continued until 1959. He then set off for Japan, having made friends with the poet JamesKirkup, who claimed to have put the evil eye on the arrogant (though highly readable) historian H.A.L. Fisher, who was immediately mown down by a bus. Ackerley had been seeking for years ‘the ...

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, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... trial came to court. Mary Whitehouse, the campaigner against the ‘permissive society’, had brought a private prosecution against the magazine on a charge of blasphemous libel because of a poem by JamesKirkup it had 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 ...

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