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Making It

Melissa Benn: New Feminism?

5 February 1998
Different for Girls: How Culture Creates Women 
by Joan Smith.
Chatto, 176 pp., £10.99, September 1997, 9780701165123
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The New Feminism 
by Natasha Walter.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.50, January 1998, 0 316 88234 8
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A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Penguin, 752 pp., £20, June 1997, 0 670 87420 5
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... achieve mainstream appeal. Catchy booktitles, styled photographs, radio and television appearances have done their bit and an array of cultural critics and journalists – Suzanne Moore, Linda Grant, JoanSmith, Beatrix Campbell, Susie Orbach, even Julie Burchill – have established a niche in newspaper and broadcast journalism. Others, like Lynne Segal and Lisa Jardine, have climbed the academic ...

Expendables

Joel Shurkin

23 January 1986
Clouds of Deceit: The Deadly Legacy of Britain’s Bomb Tests 
by Joan Smith.
Faber, 174 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 571 13628 1
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Fields of Thunder: Testing Britain’s Bomb 
by Denys Blakeway and Sue Lloyd-Roberts.
Allen and Unwin, 242 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 04 341029 4
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... is not telling the truth is overwhelming. Two books, probably the first of a line, chronicle the testing and the subsequent cover-up. Clouds of Deceit was written by a former Sunday Times reporter, JoanSmith; Fields of Thunder – a much better book – by Sue Lloyd-Roberts and the BBC’s Denys Blakeway. Both books were inspired by the Australian Royal Commission on the conduct of the tests, whose ...

On Joan​ Murray

Patrick McGuinness: Joan​ Murray

20 December 2018
... Joan Murray​ died of a heart defect in 1942, at the age of 24. Her first book, Poems, was published five years later, after her manuscript won the Yale Younger Poets Prize, which was judged by Auden ...

Prophet of the Rocks

Richard Fortey: William Smith

9 August 2001
The Map that Changed the World: The Tale of William Smith​ and the Birth of a Science 
by Simon Winchester.
Viking, 338 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 88407 3
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... into a system. Before the end of the 18th century there was no method by which to classify geological strata in sequence. Once again, a map provided the key; it was published by the surveyor William Smith in August 1815 and it provided the framework for the geological time-scale that is still in use today. In turn, this supplied the millions of years required for the operation of organic evolution. A ...

Diary

Elaine Showalter: Even Lolita must have read Nancy Drew

7 September 1995
... Nancy Drew paperbacks are still on the market, but what’s really happened to the girl sleuth is that she’s become a woman, the feminist detective of Amanda Cross, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, JoanSmith or Sarah Dunant. The crimes are now drugs, rape and murder, but the fantasies are the same: ‘no thugs and smugglers can dwell in their grungy hideouts for long when a girl sleuth is around ...

Frock Consciousness

Rosemary Hill: Fashion and frocks

20 January 2000
The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Fashion Writing 
edited by Judith Watt.
Viking, 360 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 670 88215 1
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Twentieth-Century Fashion 
by Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye.
Thames and Hudson, 288 pp., £8.95, November 1999, 0 500 20321 0
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A Century of Fashion 
by François Baudot.
Thames and Hudson, 400 pp., £19.95, November 1999, 0 500 28178 5
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The Hidden Consumer: Masculinities, Fashion and City Life 1860-1914 
by Christopher Breward.
Manchester, 278 pp., £45, September 1999, 0 7190 4799 4
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Black in Fashion 
by Valerie Mendes.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 144 pp., £35, October 1999, 1 85177 278 2
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... something inflicted by men on women or that it is engaged in by women for the benefit of men. Neither is usually true, nor do the proponents of such ideas fall into predictable political camps. JoanSmith, quoted by Watt, blows John Berger’s famous dictum that ‘men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’ smartly out of the water as just another male fantasy. If they are interested ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Godot on a bike

5 February 2004
... rely on their vanity, or else their sense of shame: either they won’t recognise themselves in your unflattering portrayal, or they’ll be too embarrassed to own up to it. In the words of Lee Smith, the author of Fair and Tender Ladies and, most recently, The Last Girls: ‘It’s easy to disguise them enough for the purposes of putting them in a novel – just add a moustache, or change their ...

Presto!

James Buchan

14 December 1995
The Life of Adam Smith 
by Ian Simpson Ross.
Oxford, 495 pp., £25, October 1995, 0 19 828821 2
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... Wealth of Nations, a vantage at which you have already left the economists shivering and huddled in their sleeping bags a thousand feet below, there is a sentence that lets you peer right into Adam Smith’s world. He is talking about Cameron of Lochiel, whose decision, against his better judgment, to come out for Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 won the clans for the Pretender and doomed the ...

What most I love I bite

Matthew Bevis: Stevie Smith

27 July 2016
The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Will May.
Faber, 806 pp., £35, October 2015, 978 0 571 31130 9
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... Could​ anything be better than to start off with a fine picture of a sailing ship on the rough sea coming suddenly alive and sucking in the children?’ Stevie Smith asked, reviewing C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 1952. She liked depictions of people who disappeared into the objects of their gaze; a couple of years earlier, her poem ‘Deeply ...

Fame at last

Elaine Showalter

7 November 1991
Anne Sexton: A Biography 
by Diane Wood Middlebrook.
Virago, 488 pp., £20, November 1991, 1 85381 406 7
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... I met Anne Sexton six months before her suicide, in April 1974. My colleague Carol Smith and I were doing a series of interviews with women writers, and we had heard how Sexton and her friend Maxine Kumin had worked together for years, talking about their poems in long telephone sessions ...

At the National Gallery of Scotland

Peter Campbell: Joan​ Eardley

13 December 2007
... Joan Eardley was only 42 when she died in 1963. She was born in England but her life was in Scotland. Two Scottish subjects dominate the current exhibition of her work (at the National Gallery of Scotland ...

Sheer Enthusiasm

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Zadie Smith

30 August 2018
Feel Free: Essays 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £20, February 2018, 978 0 241 14689 7
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... Several​ of the last century’s finest non-fiction writers – Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin – longed to be novelists. In interviews with the Paris Review, each touched on the tension and insecurity involved in their dual métier. Sontag wrote in ...

The People Must Be Paid

Paul Smith: Capital cities in World War I

7 May 1998
Capital Cities at War: Paris, London, Berlin 1914-1919 
edited by Jay Winter and Jean-Louis Robert.
Cambridge, 622 pp., £60, March 1997, 0 521 57171 5
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... were challenged. But, alongside the clerks who ‘mafficked’ in London and the students of the Action Française who disrupted the Sorbonne lectures of Professor Thalamas (regarded as a traducer of Joan of Arc) stood groups less obviously inclined or adapted to answer the nation’s call. Nationalists feared the great towns as the seats at once of lust for gain and taste for luxurious ease which ...
30 October 1997
... have sprung up around the monarchy’s renegade daughter – as if, however improbably, she had become the repository of the Reithian BBC’s nationalised moralism and authority. The following week, JoanSmith pursued a similarly dangerous line in the Independent on Sunday: ‘In recent days ... those of us who are not willing to pretend to emotions we don’t feel have been getting an ominous ...

Of the Mule Breed

David Bromwich: Robert Southey

21 May 1998
Robert Southey: A Life 
by Mark Storey.
Oxford, 405 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 19 811246 7
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... senses now defunct. Yet his lives of Nelson and Wesley are still impressive performances; and there is a morbid appeal in the eclipse of a career that spun out Thalaba, The Curse of Kehama, Roderick, Joan of Arc, and the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Adepts of cultural studies have found Southey the most open-minded of the Romantics, but the truth is that he was the most serviceable. He ...

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