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Lily and Lolly

Sarah Rigby, 18 July 1996

The Yeats Sisters: A Biography of Susan and Elizabeth Yeats 
by Joan Hardwick.
Pandora, 263 pp., £8.99, January 1996, 0 04 440924 9
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... first publisher, Lawrence and Bullen. The sisters’ real achievement – and the one for which Joan Hardwick feels they ought to be remembered – came about much later, after they had moved back to Ireland, where they set up and ran a printing press, and workshop. They made and sold hand-printed books and embroidered goods, and made enough money to ...

Shopping in Lucerne

E.S. Turner, 9 June 1994

Addicted to Romance: The Life and Adventures of Elinor Glyn 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 306 pp., £20, June 1994, 0 233 98866 1
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Mother of Oscar: The Life of Jane Francesca Wilde 
by Joy Melville.
Murray, 308 pp., £19.99, June 1994, 0 7195 5102 1
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... her grandson, Anthony Glyn, was published in 1955, revised in 1988. Why, then, another biography? Joan Hardwick, author of An Immodest Violet (1990), a study of Violet Hunt (whose novels included – yes – The Tiger Skin), evidently felt irresistibly drawn to another immodest adventuress of the period. She is a writer who can keep a straight face when ...

Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... in feminist criticism. Two victims of such discrimination are Violet Hunt and May Sinclair. As Joan Hardwick’s biography demonstrates astutely, Hunt led a far from conventional life, and was active in promoting new art and new writing. She was neither celibate nor lesbian (she brusquely rejected Radclyffe Hall’s advances). Even so, her friendships ...

Firm Lines

Hermione Lee, 17 November 1983

Bartleby in Manhattan, and Other Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick.
Weidenfeld, 292 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 297 78357 2
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... Elizabeth Hardwick’s terms for the mind at work are revealing. In an essay called ‘Domestic Manners’ which begins with the question ‘How do we live today?’ she reminds us of the duplicity and elusiveness of styles. Just as they seem to ‘the defining imagination’ to look like solid historical facts, they shift and collapse ...

The Pink Hotel

Wayne Koestenbaum, 3 April 1997

The Last Thing He Wanted 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 227 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 00 224080 7
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... I admire that. It brings to mind Janet Flanner at the Ritz and James Schuyler at the Chelsea.) Joan Didion has often noted transiency’s allure, a writer’s necessary alienation from fixed address. My favourite Didion passage of all time, from The White Album, typifies what I will call ‘hotel prose’: TO PACK AND WEAR:   2 skirts   2 jerseys ...


Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party, 8 February 2018

... someone they could talk to.Journalistically, what more could you wish for? ‘It was gold,’ as Joan Didion would say. The historian Taylor Branch visited Bill Clinton secretly at the White House once a month in the 1990s. On his first visit, in the spring of 1993, maxims and epigrams were flying about the place. Bill was quoting Suetonius, Hillary quoted ...

Elzābet of Anletār

John Gallagher, 22 September 2016

This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and the Islamic World 
by Jerry Brotton.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 241 00402 9
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... a Bible and a chalice) and Muhammad (turban-sporting and glum) found in the bedchamber of Bess of Hardwick. In This Orient Isle, Jerry Brotton sets out to show that ‘Islam in all its manifestations – imperial, military, cultural, theological and commercial – is part of the national story of England.’ He does this, in part, by turning popular ...

Woman in Love

Brigid Brophy, 7 February 1985

The Life of Jane Austen 
by John Halperin.
Harvester, 400 pp., December 1984, 0 7108 0518 7
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... though one cannot be sure, since he is not adept at making his emotional intentions plain. ‘Hardwick suggests that the lady’s knowledge of unpleasantness was’ something or other. Frederic Harrison found ‘the lady in question’ something else. ‘Perhaps the lady was one person with intimates and another person at other times.’ By the time he ...

I dive under the covers

Sheila Heti: Mad Wives, 6 June 2013

by Kate Zambreno.
Semiotext(e), 309 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 1 58435 114 6
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... role in the book. In her early days in Akron, Zambreno has ‘short cropped hair’ and a ‘black Joan of Arc jacket, shiny from years of wear’, which she guesses is ‘perhaps a sartorial revolt from my new, more feminine role’. Later, while immersed in the legend of Zelda Fitzgerald, she buys ‘glittery silver toenail polish from OPI’s Swiss ...

I was Mary Queen of Scots

Colm Tóibín: Biographical empathy, 21 October 2004

My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots 
by John Guy.
Harper Perennial, 574 pp., £8.99, August 2004, 1 84115 753 8
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Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens 
by Jane Dunn.
Harper Perennial, 592 pp., £8.99, March 2004, 9780006531920
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... your foot! Some of this, especially the opera as performed with fervid and overwrought passion by Joan Sutherland as Mary and Huguette Tourangeau as Elizabeth and Pavarotti as Leicester, can take me straight back to my youth. The best music for that, however, is by Robert Schumann. His five songs for Mary Stuart, especially as performed in French by Victoria ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... a modern classic of despair and endurance, like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Without it, Styron’s reputation might have joined his pal James Jones’s, bobbing in and out of the purgatory of posterity, big-novel authors in danger of being dragged down by their own bulk. I was never a fan of ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... seems to be set on a series of steps which, though the film was shot in the studio, relates it to Hardwick Hall and also to the dream sequences that follow with a stairway to heaven. The steps, coincidentally, chime in with a poem by the recently dead Ian Hamilton printed in the LRB. We are on a kind of stair. The world below Will never be regained; was ...

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