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Simply too exhausted

Christopher Hitchens

25 July 1991
Edwina Mountbatten: A Life of Her Own 
by Janet Morgan.
HarperCollins, 509 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 00 217597 5
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... the drive. Edwina’s dog, Snippet, ran out to greet her mistress. That was the worst of all. Janet Morgan, A Life of Her Own From the very first page of this book (‘Sir Ernest was larger than life’) to the very last (‘Truth is stranger than fiction’) the cliché is entirely sovereign. It is a sentimental cliché, compared to which Evangeline ...
6 December 1984
Agatha Christie 
by Janet Morgan.
Collins, 393 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 216330 6
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... At first sight Janet Morgan does not seem the obvious person to choose as the official biographer of Agatha Christie. She describes herself on the jacket of the book as a ‘writer and consultant’, who now ‘advises governments, companies and other organisations on long-range strategic planning, new technology and different approaches to whatever they find themselves doing ...
16 April 1981
The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman 
edited by Janet Morgan.
Hamish Hamilton/Cape, 1136 pp., £15, March 1981, 0 241 10440 8
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... heirs have now abandoned. The first question is whether we can trust this text. The editor, Janet Morgan, with her experience of putting the later volumes of Diaries of a Cabinet Minister into shape, has adopted similar methods here. The original diaries run with some breaks from October 1951 to December 1963 – some three million words in ...

The Last Englishman to Rule India

Ashis Nandy: Jawaharlal Nehru

21 May 1998
Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny 
by Stanley Wolpert.
Oxford, 546 pp., £25, January 1997, 0 19 510073 5
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... and anecdotes – on M.O. Mathai, for instance – and on available private archives, of the kind Janet Morgan used in her biography of Edwina Mountbatten. The critics who accused Wolpert of bias could have fruitfully spent part of their energy demanding that those standing guard over Nehru’s papers, for less than honest reasons, release them for use ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy

6 June 2002
Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... loathed and feared and needed the approval of her snobbish, dull, shrieking and ambitious mother Janet Lee Bouvier as much as Maisie loathed and feared and needed her mother; she flirted with her father, who drank and spent money and flirted in turn with anyone who came his way. Her parents made no secret of their disastrous marriage and the great gap ...
4 September 1986
Ocean of Story: The Uncollected Stories of Christina Stead 
edited by R.G. Geering.
Viking, 552 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 670 80996 9
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The Salzburg Tales 
by Christina Stead.
498 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 86068 691 4
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... great novels of the century, The Man Who Loved Children. When my story appeared someone wrote to Janet Frame recommending it. She wrote to say how much she’d enjoyed it but asking why I was now writing as a woman. This confusion was sorted out when I found that the next issue of the Kenyon Review contained Christina Stead’s novella ‘The Puzzle-Headed ...

Coalition Phobia

Brian Harrison

4 June 1987
Labour People, Leaders and Lieutenants: Hardie to Kinnock 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 370 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 19 822929 1
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J. Ramsay MacDonald 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 276 pp., £19.50, June 1987, 0 7190 2168 5
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Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical 
by Patricia Romero.
Yale, 334 pp., £17.50, March 1987, 0 300 03691 4
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Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst 
by Barbara Castle.
Penguin, 159 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008761 3
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... Labour will plunge once more into debating its own history. Not reluctantly, because as Kenneth Morgan points out, the Party ‘has been captivated, even obsessed, by its history’; even more than the Conservatives it is, he says, ‘a prisoner of its past’. Yet the debate will probably be more painful than in the recent past, because it will need to be ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty

11 December 1997
... he find any of these people, we asked? Yes, he would try. The following week Jo Mennel and John Morgan, the reporter, went back to interview the Rhyl witnesses on camera. Over a cup of tea in a café, Terry Evans gave them the disappointing news that he could not find the main man he was looking for, a newspaper-seller called Charlie Jones. As the ...
5 March 1981
Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... do Hay, Brown and Lewis Grassic Gibbon owe to Stevenson? Very little, perhaps, unless ‘Thrawn Janet’ or the melodramatic boldness of Jekyll and Hyde left their mark. Edwin Morgan has chosen well from the earlier satirical poetry of Scotland, the strengths of which show up his contemporary selection to its distinct ...

Misbehavin’

Susannah Clapp

23 July 1987
A Life with Alan: The Diary of A.J.P. Taylor’s Wife, Eva, from 1978 to 1985 
by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 241 12118 3
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The Painted Banquet: My Life and Loves 
by Jocelyn Rickards.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 297 79119 2
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The Beaverbrook Girl 
by Janet Aitken Kidd.
Collins, 240 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 00 217602 5
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... Jocelyn Rickards had begun her career as a stage and film designer. She created the costumes for Morgan, The Knack and From Russia with Love; her accounts of her work on these productions are dispatched with less detail and a lot less vim than her descriptions of celebrities. While she was working on the film of Look back in anger she met the ...

Hourglass or Penny-Farthing?

Christopher Tayler: Damon Galgut

30 July 2014
Arctic Summer 
by Damon Galgut.
Atlantic, 357 pp., £17.99, May 2014, 978 0 85789 718 3
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... journey to India, when two men found themselves together on the forward deck … The first man, Morgan Forster, was 33 years of age.’ This modulates quickly into free indirect style, which Galgut does well. At least some of the time, though, he seems not to want the reader to be lulled by illusionistic effects. An essayistic tone jumps out of stretches of ...

May I come to your house to philosophise?

John Barrell: Godwin’s Letters

8 September 2011
The Letters of William Godwin Vol. I: 1778-97 
by Pamela Clemit.
Oxford, 306 pp., £100, February 2011, 978 0 19 956261 9
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... left Norwich to spend a few months with the family of a Unitarian minister, George Cadogan Morgan, at Southgate in Middlesex. She called on Godwin, who reproved her for residing outside London and foregoing ‘the society & advantages of the metropolis’, and Alderson replied that in staying with the Morgans she was ...

Lovers on a Train

Susannah Clapp

10 January 1991
Carol 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0719 8
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... insulation from the rest of the world. This can go too far. Some of her narration has a stunned, Janet-and-John quality. But the restaurant served only beer and wine, so they left. Carol did not stop anywhere for her drink as they drove back towards New York. Carol asked her if she wanted to go home or come out to Carol’s house for a while, and Therese ...

Puellilia

Pat Rogers

7 August 1986
Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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Cecilia 
by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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Marriage 
by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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Belinda 
by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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Self-Control 
by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... women writers before Jane Austen’ are an arbitrary bunch, many obtained from a hacker’s job on Janet Todd’s Dictionary of British and American Women Writers 1660-1800. Spender calls this a ‘Dictionary of Women Novelists’ – a significant blunder. Todd covers poets, dramatists, letter-writers and essayists, whereas Spender, after a perfunctory look ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage

17 March 2016
Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... the murderer of a great and courageous feminist poet. In 1972 the American poet and activist Robin Morgan published Monster, a book that included a piece in which a gang of Plath aficionados are imagined castrating Hughes, stuffing his penis into his mouth and then blowing out his brains. In Britain a militant anti-Hughes faction took to chiselling his name ...

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