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Oh for the oo tray

William Feaver: Edward Burra

13 December 2007
Edward Burra: Twentieth-Century Eye 
by Jane Stevenson.
Cape, 496 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 224 07875 7
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... working, inching across the Whatman Antique, but also because he liked to tint. Watercolour is particularly good, he found, for grandiose magic lantern effects. Presumably it was decided early on by JaneStevenson or Cape (perhaps both) that, given the wealth of filmed interviews, surviving correspondence with racy friends and the ever interesting state of his health tested by remarkably extensive ...

Horror like Thunder

Germaine Greer: Lucy Hutchinson

21 June 2001
Order and Disorder 
by Lucy Hutchinson, edited by David Norbrook.
Blackwell, 272 pp., £55, January 2001, 0 631 22061 5
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... reply to Edmund Waller’s panegyric on the Lord Protector in an article in The Seventeenth Century, and in 1997 transcriptions of her ‘Elegies’ in an article in English Literary Renaissance. For JaneStevenson and Peter Davidson, who edited Early Modern Women Poets (1520-1700): An Anthology,* Norbrook’s attribution to Lucy Hutchinson of Order and Disorder makes her ‘one of the most important ...
18 August 1994
The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Vol. I: 1854-April 1874 
edited by Bradford Booth and Ernest Mehew.
Yale, 525 pp., £29.95, July 1994, 0 300 05183 2
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The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Vol. II: April 1874-July 1879 
edited by Bradford Booth and Ernest Mehew.
Yale, 352 pp., £29.95, July 1994, 0 300 06021 1
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... According to Stevenson’s wishes, his letters were first presented to the public by his friend, the art historian Sidney Colvin. Colvin, described by Stevenson as a ‘difficult, shut up, noble fellow’, did the job reasonably conscientiously. He was, however, an arch-bowdleriser, using, as he said, ‘the editorial privilege of omission without scruple ...

Going underground

Elaine Showalter

12 May 1994
The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Janet Malcolm.
Knopf, 208 pp., $23, April 1994, 0 679 43158 6
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... plays a leading role. So why is this woman sneaking around Ted Hughes’s garden? And why does she publish big chunks of previously unpublished correspondence between Ted Hughes, Olwyn Hughes, Anne Stevenson and Al Alvarez? While she so vehemently condemns the motives of those who rifle the drawers of the dead, Malcolm is herself impelled to do the same, and it is this pull between its overt and covert ...

Dialect does it

Blake Morrison

5 December 1985
No Mate for the Magpie 
by Frances Molloy.
Virago, 170 pp., £7.95, April 1985, 0 86068 594 2
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The Mysteries 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 229 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 9780571137893
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Ukulele Music 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 103 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 40986 0
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Hard Lines 2 
edited by Ian Dury, Pete Townshend, Alan Bleasdale and Fanny Dubes.
Faber, 95 pp., £2.50, June 1985, 0 571 13542 0
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No Holds Barred: The Raving Beauties choose new poems by women 
edited by Anna Carteret, Fanny Viner and Sue Jones-Davies.
Women’s Press, 130 pp., £2.95, June 1985, 0 7043 3963 3
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Katerina Brac 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 47 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13614 1
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Skevington’s Daughter 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 88 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13697 4
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Rhondda Tenpenn’orth 
by Oliver Reynolds.
10 pence
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Trio 4 
by Andrew Elliott, Leon McAuley and Ciaran O’Driscoll.
Blackstaff, 69 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 333 4
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Mama Dot 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, August 1985, 0 7011 2957 3
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The Dread Affair: Collected Poems 
by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Arena, 112 pp., £2.95, August 1985, 9780099392507
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Long Road to Nowhere 
by Amryl Johnson.
Virago, 64 pp., £2.95, July 1985, 0 86068 687 6
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Mangoes and Bullets 
by John Agard.
Pluto, 64 pp., £3.50, August 1985, 0 7453 0028 6
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Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars 
by Ron Butlin.
Secker, 51 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 07810 4
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True Confessions and New Clichés 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 135 pp., £3.95, July 1985, 0 904919 90 0
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Works in the Inglis Tongue 
by Peter Davidson.
Three Tygers Press, 17 pp., £2.50, June 1985
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Wild Places: Poems in Three Leids 
by William Neill.
Luath, 200 pp., £5, September 1985, 0 946487 11 1
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... who meant not to raise Lazarus but to say in Scots what could not be said in English. Davidson’s is not a ‘rouch’ tongue but a courtly one – though such a distinction would not be allowed by JaneStevenson, who contributes an intelligent introduction to the pamphlet, invoking MacDiarmid and erecting some formidable battlements for her fragile protégé: The virtues and capacities of the ...
5 August 1982
Memoirs of a Midget 
by Walter de la Mare.
Oxford, 392 pp., £3.50, May 1982, 0 19 281344 7
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... horror. The story is ‘An Ideal Craftsman’. In this genre he was a master – albeit a very literary master – of the riddles of sado-masochism, the dark underside of his ‘magic’. So also was Stevenson – a predecessor in his ‘sedulous ape’ period; so too, later, is the bookish cross-bred Borges. Miss Angela Carter, whose preface speculates here on his famous novel Memoirs of a Midget, glances ...

Can’t hear, speak up!

Joanna Biggs: 'I'm a narcissist and so is Ben Lerner'

25 November 2019
The Topeka School 
by Ben Lerner.
Granta, 304 pp., £16.99, November, 978 1 78378 572 8
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... himself tell us about his education, his background, his progress, as we heard him tell us about his year in Madrid, we read a third-person narrative of his childhood. We also hear from his mother, Jane Gordon, a famous feminist psychologist; from his father, Jonathan Gordon, an analyst who specialises in lost boys; and from Darren Eberheart, one of those lost boys himself. They all speak in the ...

Slick Chick

Elaine Showalter

11 July 1991
The Haunting of Sylvia Plath 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Virago, 288 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 1 85381 307 9
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Passions of the Mind 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 340 pp., £17, August 1991, 0 7011 3260 4
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... and sees Plath as ‘responsible for everything that happens to her’. Exemplified by Bitter Fame, the ambiguously titled (bitter to whom?) and extraordinarily hostile biography written by Anne Stevenson with the assistance of Olwyn Hughes, this criticism suggests that something terrible about Plath herself, a kind of plathology, is the source of lies, distortions, perversions and obsessions. At the ...
22 June 1989
Ripley Bogle 
by Robert McLiam Wilson.
Deutsch, 273 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 233 98392 9
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The Burnt House 
by Adam Lively.
Simon and Schuster, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 671 69999 7
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Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms Jekyll and Mrs Hyde 
by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 121 pp., £10.99, June 1989, 0 571 15242 2
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The Magic Drum 
by Emma Tennant.
Viking, 142 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 670 82556 5
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... the gardens of Rudyard and Nightingale Crescents, and Ms Eliza Jekyll, who runs a trendy new gallery on the Portobello Road, and lives next door to Mrs Hyde, but round the corner, off the main road. Stevenson’s setting is comparably precise and symbolic: the front of Dr Jekyll’s home is part of a square of ‘ancient, handsome houses’, while the back, which Mr Hyde uses, belongs to a sinister block ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder

18 November 1993
The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... singled out what Virginia Woolf had called ‘the few English novels written for grown-up people’. These novels originally consisted of Middlemarch (Virginia Woolf’s nomination), the works of Jane Austen, Henry James, Joseph Conrad and D.H. Lawrence, Dickens’s Hard Times and half of Daniel Deronda. The ‘great tradition’ doubtless stands for something much less rigorous in Mr Patten’s ...

Descent into Oddness

Dinah Birch: Peter Rushforth’s long-awaited second novel

6 January 2005
Pinkerton’s Sister 
by Peter Rushforth.
Scribner, 729 pp., £18.99, September 2004, 0 7432 5235 7
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... the allusions, quotations and references that bind her thinking into coherence, if not into sense. There isn’t much she hasn’t read, or doesn’t remember. Oscar Wilde, the Brontës, Robert Louis Stevenson, Tennyson, George MacDonald, Charles Reade, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Louisa May Alcott, Wilkie Collins, Mary Braddon, Conan Doyle, Du Maurier, and plenty more. Her literary memory is a compendium ...

Taking it up again

Margaret Anne Doody

21 March 1991
Henry James and Revision 
by Philip Horne.
Oxford, 373 pp., £40, December 1990, 0 19 812871 1
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... the Old James meant. Horne does not pay much attention to works outside James’s own oeuvre as they might have had an influence on this undertaking, and on James’s writing: there is a reference to Stevenson, and one to Gissing. Curiously, there is no reference to the author’s unsuccessful plays. His time as a failed dramatist may have convinced James of the need for passionate authorial control, of ...

Metropolitan Miscreants

Matthew Bevis: Victorian Bloomsbury

4 July 2013
Victorian Bloomsbury 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, July 2012, 978 0 300 15447 4
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Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810-40: Cockney Adventures 
by Gregory Dart.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 1 107 02492 2
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... worthy. There’s a great moment when Elisabeth Reid (founder of what became Bedford College for Women) lectures one of Dickens’s children on her delight at being served plum pudding on Boxing Day. Jane Carlyle swoops: Mrs Reid leaning tenderly over her (as benevolent gentlewomen understand how to lean over youth) said in a soft voice – professedly for its ear but loud enough for mine and ...

Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley

8 February 2001
Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... about ‘the trailing figure of the biographer’, but it is significant that it should be the Shelley ménage – in a book that also explores his biographical ‘intimacy’ with Robert Louis Stevenson, Gérard de Nerval and Mary Shelley’s remarkable mother Mary Wollstonecraft – that occasions the reflection. There is something about ‘the Shelley circle’, and particularly its bizarre life ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington

16 April 1998
... only 20th-century writer represented here: the Library has significant Modernist holdings (Joyce, Yeats, Wallace Stevens – none of whom Amis had much time for), as well as extensive collections of Stevenson and Jack London, the 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 ...

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