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Middle American

Edmund Leach, 7 March 1985

Margaret Mead: A Life 
by Jane Howard.
Harvill, 527 pp., £12.95, October 1984, 0 00 272515 0
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With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson 
by Mary Catherine Bateson.
Morrow, 242 pp., $15.95, July 1984, 0 688 03962 6
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... Bateson, for whose intellectual originality I have an enormous respect, was a personal friend. Jane Howard’s book sets out to be a straight, warts-and-all biography. The author, who is not herself an anthropologist, is by no means starry-eyed about her heroine: nevertheless, as can be seen in the blustering way in which she dismisses Freeman’s ...


Patrick Parrinder, 26 July 1990

The Sorrow of Belgium 
by Hugo Claus, translated by Arnold Pomerans.
Viking, 609 pp., £14.99, June 1990, 0 670 81456 3
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by Lisa St Aubin de Teran.
Virago, 260 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 85381 158 0
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A Sensible Life 
by Mary Wesley.
Bantam, 364 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 9780593019306
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The Light Years 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Macmillan, 418 pp., £12.95, June 1990, 0 333 53875 7
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... Camomile Lawn was set. As historical fiction A Sensible Life may well be compared with Elizabeth Jane Howard’s The Light Years, a narrative of events in 1937 and 1938 which is the first of a planned trilogy spanning the war years. Both like to drip-feed us with nostalgia, and neither is poisonous. Both, too, tend to over-compensate for the human and ...

Pour a stiff drink

Tessa Hadley: Elizabeth Jane Howard, 6 February 2014

All Change 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Mantle, 573 pp., £18.99, November 2013, 978 0 230 74307 6
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... Elizabeth Jane Howard had been a novelist for forty years before she published The Light Years, the first volume of the Cazalet chronicles, in 1990. The fifth and final volume, All Change, was published in 2013, and she died in January this year, aged ninety. Her stepson Martin Amis advised her to embark on the Cazalet books, when she was hesitating between possibilities ...


Robert Taubman, 20 May 1982

A Chain of Voices 
by André Brink.
Faber, 525 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 571 11874 7
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How German is it 
by Walter Abish.
Carcanet, 252 pp., £6.75, March 1982, 0 85635 396 5
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Before she met me 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.50, April 1982, 0 224 01985 6
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by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 183 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 01976 7
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Getting it right 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10805 5
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... out to educate with his favourite records and books, beginning with The Secret Garden. Elizabeth Jane Howard does a good job where she can feel as confident in her values as Cecil Roberts. She enters with zest into the details of hairdressing or Gavin’s mother’s cooking. She is no less confident with good, worthy sentiments that wouldn’t disdain ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate, 20 March 2003

All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... championship of Aickman lasted for years and carried him to an interview with Elizabeth Jane Howard, co-author of Aickman’s first book, and to a reconsideration of the values of a certain kind of Englishness. ‘These people did what they wanted to do. They carried on when their work went out of fashion, when nobody was listening.’ Thinking ...

Performance Art

John Bayley, 16 November 1995

... we disapprove of in real life. The two Amises continued co-existing. When he married Elizabeth Jane Howard they went to live in a big house near Barnet, a matriarchal establishment largely run, it seemed, by his new mother and brother-in-law. Amis rejoiced in this set-up, which seemed to come quite naturally to him. Not in the least the squire or ...


Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... latter represented by 131,000 items. It has also purchased the archive of the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, Amis’s second wife. The Huntington’s Rare Book Room closes for an hour at noon and most of its readers stroll across the gardens to a shaded outdoor restaurant. Amis would barely recognise as lunch the meal most of us eat here: nobody ...

Sorry to go on like this

Ian Hamilton: Kingsley Amis, 1 June 2000

The Letters of Kingsley Amis 
edited by Zachary Leader.
HarperCollins, 1208 pp., £24.99, May 2000, 0 00 257095 5
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... at all made up for by the ardent love missives with which, in the 1960s, he bombarded Elizabeth Jane Howard, who became his second wife. These seem forced and self-conscious but maybe they wouldn’t if we did not know how things turned out for these two lovers. After they have split up, Howard is routinely referred ...

Do you think he didn’t know?

Stefan Collini: Kingsley Amis, 14 December 2006

The Life of Kingsley Amis 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 996 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 224 06227 1
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... was finally put under intolerable strain when Amis started an affair with the writer Elizabeth Jane Howard. Almost immediately, this affair threatened to be different from its innumerable predecessors because Kingsley fell passionately in love with Jane. Hilly finally walked out on him; he and ...

Frocks and Shocks

Hilary Mantel: Jane Boleyn, 24 April 2008

Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford 
by Julia Fox.
Phoenix, 398 pp., £9.99, March 2008, 978 0 7538 2386 6
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... vacuous feature film will be clogging up the multiplexes. In reworkings of the Tudor soap opera, Jane Boleyn is more often known as Jane Rochford, wife of George Boleyn, sister-in-law to Anne the queen. There are some lives we read backwards, from bloody exit to obscure entrance, and ...

Keep yr gob shut

Christopher Tayler: Larkin v. Amis, 20 December 2012

The Odd Couple: The Curious Friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin 
by Richard Bradford.
Robson, 373 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 1 84954 375 0
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... about how all women are bitches – was coloured by his rancorous divorce from Elizabeth Jane Howard. Bradford’s Exhibit A, however, is ‘Letter to a Friend about Girls’ (‘After comparing lives with you for years,/I see how I’ve been losing’), which Larkin tinkered with endlessly but chose not to publish because, he said, ‘the ...

Barrage Balloons of Fame

Christopher Tayler: We need to talk about Martin, 8 October 2020

Inside Story 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 521 pp., £20, September, 978 1 78733 275 1
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... room for another argument with himself about Israel, two passages (one reprinted) on Elizabeth Jane Howard, and a post-postscript describing a dream about her dog. Another difficulty is the range of Martin Amises on offer. Here he’s a distinguished, thoroughly normcore man of letters, there he’s a feral, muscle-flexing cult writer, and ...

Who is Lucian Freud?

Rosemary Hill: John Craxton goes to Crete, 21 October 2021

John Craxton: A Life of Gifts 
by Ian Collins.
Yale, 383 pp., £25, May, 978 0 300 25529 4
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... Harold and Essie Craxton, who tumbled up in a ramshackle household in St John’s Wood. Elizabeth Jane Howard, who knew them all when she was young and later wove them into her Cazalet novels, described the Craxtons as exuding happiness like pollen, which rubbed off. The pianist Harold Isaacs remembered overcrowded Acomb Lodge as ‘a very strange ...

Charm with Menaces

Colin Burrow: ‘The Mirror and the Light’, 19 March 2020

The Mirror and the Light 
by Hilary Mantel.
Fourth Estate, 883 pp., £25, March 2020, 978 0 00 748099 9
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... and international and secular and religious events of these years. Anne Boleyn is beheaded. Jane Seymour becomes queen, has a son, dies. Abbeys are dissolved. The Plantagenet Pole family conspires against the crown. The rebellion known as the Pilgrimage of Grace rises in the North, unhappy with reforms in the Church, and is put down. Henry VIII gets a ...

At the Brunei Gallery

Peter Campbell: Indian photography, 1 November 2001

... craft. So although the pictures here, drawn from the collection of the British Library and the Howard and Jane Ricketts Collection, do show Kipling’s India – ethnographers and travellers photographed the landscapes, types and tribes which Kim encounters on his journeyings – their monochrome precision is miles away ...

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