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2 April 1981
Paul Nash 
by Andrew Causey.
Oxford, 511 pp., £35, June 1980, 0 19 817348 2
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The Enemy 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Routledge, 391 pp., £15, July 1980, 0 7100 0514 8
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Wyndham Lewis: A Revaluation 
edited by Jeffrey Meyers.
Athlone, 276 pp., £13.50, May 1980, 0 485 11193 4
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Wyndham lewis 
by Jane Farrington.
Lund Humphries, 128 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 85331 434 9
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... is tempted to call him paranoid. If he also wears disguises, makes mysterious appointments in out-of-the-way places, and sits always with his back to the wall, paranoia seems a likely explanation. JeffreyMeyers argues that in fact this was all a role that Lewis consciously assumed as a judgment of society, and therefore concludes that all of the many people who described Lewis as paranoid, or worse ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again

10 August 2016
Robert Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... ended when in 1970 Lowell left her for Blackwood, who was, he stressed, not ‘one of my many manic crushes’. Robert Lowell in Love examines Lowell’s three marriages and nine of his affairs. JeffreyMeyers criticises Lowell’s selfishness and cruelty towards these women, but maintains that they suffered for a noble cause – poetry! His wives, all writers, were, Meyers also claims, ‘driven by ...
24 January 1991
D.H. Lawrence: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 446 pp., £19.95, August 1990, 0 333 49247 1
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D.H. Lawrence 
by Tony Pinkney.
Harvester, 180 pp., £30, June 1990, 0 7108 1347 3
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England, My England, and Other Stories 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Bruce Steele.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £37.50, March 1990, 0 521 35267 3
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The ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ Trial (Regina v. Penguin Books Limited) 
edited by H. Montgomery Hyde.
Bodley Head, 333 pp., £18, June 1990, 0 370 31105 1
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by James Hanley.
Deutsch, 191 pp., £11.99, August 1990, 0 233 98578 6
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D.H. Lawrence: A Literary Life 
by John Worthen.
Macmillan, 196 pp., £27.50, September 1989, 0 333 43352 1
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... in his pram, he thought him a ‘puny, fragile little specimen’. Forty-four years later the fragile specimen died, reduced by tuberculosis to a weight of 90 pounds. It is understandable, then, that JeffreyMeyers should make much of Lawrence’s ‘lifelong invalidism’, and conclude his biography with an appendix called ‘A History of Illness’. Lawrence himself tempted biographers along this road ...
26 September 1991
Joseph Conrad: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Murray, 320 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 7195 4910 8
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Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper 
by Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan.
Oxford, 218 pp., £30, August 1991, 9780198117858
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... outing to the races at Longchamps; ‘black-eyed Susan’, the New Mexican cow beloved by D.H. Lawrence: these are the things that stay in the mind when diagnoses and depreciations are forgotten. JeffreyMeyers, who has done solid biographies of Lawrence and Hemingway and has now done one for Conrad, is particularly good on – as it were – the boots and the shoes. It makes his biographies not only ...


Michael Wood

10 November 1994
The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew Bruccoli.
Cambridge, 352 pp., £30, June 1994, 9780521402316
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The Great Gatsby 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald, edited by Matthew Bruccoli.
Cambridge, 225 pp., £27.95, October 1991, 0 521 40230 1
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Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 400 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 333 59935 7
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... has ‘gone to pot’ it means it has undergone a process of deterioration; the term has nothing to do with marijuana. ‘Long shot’ means ‘movie footage shot from a distance’. There now. JeffreyMeyers’s biography of Fitzgerald is the sort of job often called workmanlike, although most of the workmen I know are subtler than this. Meyers goes in for simple, moralising accounts of instances ...

Hemingway Hunt

Frank Kermode

17 April 1986
Along with Youth: Hemingway, the Early Years 
by Peter Griffin.
Oxford, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 19 503680 8
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The Young Hemingway 
by Michael Reynolds.
Blackwell, 291 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 631 14786 1
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Hemingway: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 646 pp., £16.95, March 1986, 0 333 42126 4
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... being a good shot, that he was careless with fire-arms, that he lost at tennis, that his reflexes at boxing were slow. But he threw his body into every sort of violent activity with gruesome gusto. Meyers has a frightful appendix listing Hemingway’s accidents and illnesses, over thirty of the former and some of them almost fatal. The cost was great. In For whom the bell tolls, which he wrote when he ...
22 May 1980
The Life of Katherine Mansfield 
by Antony Alpers.
Cape, 466 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01625 3
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... who never knew Murry. He lies ‘supine’ in Brigid Brophy’s psychoanalytical pages and crawls, a monster of ‘appalling egoism’, through the last-but-one biography of Katherine Mansfield, by JeffreyMeyers. But in correcting Murry’s emphasis it is easy to fall into another form of sentimentality which attributes all Katherine’s embarrassing mannerisms to his influence. JeffreyMeyers ...

Dark and Deep

Helen Vendler

4 July 1996
Robert Frost: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Constable, 424 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 09 476130 2
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Collected Poems, Prose and Plays 
by Robert Frost, edited by Richard Poirier and Mark Richardson.
Library of America, 1036 pp., $35, October 1995, 9781883011062
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... admirably balanced Frost: A Literary Life Recognised (1984), was to offer only a brief account of the biographical facts, and then centre attention on the poetry, giving Frost’s art its due. Now JeffreyMeyers has appeared, crowing that ‘the heart of Thompson’s biography was based on [a] lie.’ He proposes to reveal the truth – to wit, that when Frost was 64, after the death of his wife, he ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham

1 September 2005
Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... Morgan’s biography had a memorable centrepiece: a description of the senile Maugham crapping on somebody’s rug and scooping up ‘a handful of faeces like a guilty child’. In his new biography, JeffreyMeyers quotes one of the two alleged witnesses denying all knowledge of ‘this nonsensical story’. Although he thinks that Maugham’s career boils down to a ‘struggle between sexual repression ...

Big Books

Adam Mars-Jones

8 November 2018
... if unwilling to share a shelf with lesser works – it seemed to have a superior sense of itself. So did Wyndham Lewis’s swaggering riposte to it, The Apes of God, the original edition described by JeffreyMeyers as resembling ‘a cubist telephone book’ and weighing 5 lbs. As a Penguin Modern Classic, the form in which I read it, The Apes of God was unsuitably trim on the outside, feigning the sense ...


Stephen Fender

23 June 1988
by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... biographical studies. Among these are three books by Michael Reynolds on aspects of Hemingway’s life and reading, and the comprehensive Hemingway (1985) by the indefatigable English biographer JeffreyMeyers. Reynolds and Meyers stepped outside the ring where the mythographers and debunkers had slugged it out. Between them, and not without respect for the subject of their analysis, they coolly ...


Stefan Collini: Edmund Wilson

17 November 2005
Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature 
by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 642 pp., £35, August 2005, 0 374 11312 2
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... of Centennial Reflections (1997). But proceeding in this comprehensive and methodical way allowed the honour of completing the first full life to fall, almost inevitably, to the swift and prolific JeffreyMeyers, whose biography appeared in 1995. Dabney’s is a more thorough and fully documented account, one which occasionally casts a sceptical eye over claims made by some of its sources, including ...
11 October 1990
The Penguin Book of Lies 
edited by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 543 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82560 3
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... with the truth about himself, but we can be quite sure that he saw those rain-spots in the dust, looking like round nasturtium leaves. Hemingway learned much from Kipling, and Kerr quotes from JeffreyMeyers’s biography on ‘the importance of being Ernest’. Through the persona of Krebs in ‘Soldier’s Home’ he exploited his own need for mendacity. ‘To be listened to at all he had to lie ...

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