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Speak for yourself, matey

Adam Mars-Jones: The Uses of Camp, 22 November 2012

How to Be Gay 
by David Halperin.
Harvard, 549 pp., £25.95, August 2012, 978 0 674 06679 3
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... Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (first produced in 1962, filmed with Elizabeth Taylor playing Martha in 1966), referring to a line spoken by Bette Davis in King Vidor’s 1949 film Beyond the Forest, and one man’s sexual desire for another? How is it that an Australian readership in 2000 can be expected to pick up these distant references ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... upon a time when one saw an old couple walking along holding hands the thought was of Darby and Joan. Nowadays one just wonders which of them it is who has Alzheimer’s.1 June, Cambridge. On parade (on King’s Parade in fact) just after ten, where the calming presence of Richard Lloyd Morgan, the chaplain of King’s, waits to shepherd me to the Senior ...

Un Dret Egal

David A. Bell: Political Sentiment, 15 November 2007

Inventing Human Rights: A History 
by Lynn Hunt.
Norton, 272 pp., £15.99, April 2007, 978 0 393 06095 9
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... of shame about bodily functions’, to trace the rise of personal autonomy. She follows Charles Taylor, in his great philosophical history Sources of the Self, to elucidate the evolving 18th-century concept of ‘sympathy’. She also devotes a fascinating chapter to changing attitudes towards torture. Here she notes that ‘an almost complete turnabout in ...

It’s me you gotta make happy

Andrea Brady: John Wieners, 29 July 2021

Yours Presently: The Selected Letters of John Wieners 
edited by Michael Seth Stewart.
New Mexico, 333 pp., £60, December 2020, 978 0 8263 6204 9
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... Carolina). His poems explore forms of celebrity femininity: he writes about the heartaches of Joan Crawford, Jane Fonda and Bette Davis; imagines Barbara Hutton taken in a white silk crib to the White House followed by five hundred devotees; pictures Marlene Dietrich moving ‘majestically down the avenue to guard over/the war-torn refugees, waifs who ...

I hate my job

Niela Orr: Lauren Oyler meets herself, 15 July 2021

Fake Accounts 
by Lauren Oyler.
Fourth Estate, 272 pp., £12.99, February, 978 0 00 836652 0
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... on. She now namedrops Ben Lerner’s novel Leaving the Atocha Station, Ikea’s Malm furniture, Joan Didion, Andrea Dworkin. But instead of truly getting the fuck out, or selling out, or moving far enough away to drop her pose, she has become a cog in the global branding cognoscenti. In Brooklyn, she wrote advertising copy, possibly for a class of people ...

‘A Naughty House’

Charles Nicholl: Shakespeare’s Landlord, 24 June 2010

... appearance in both. On 20 November 1613, ‘Christoferus Mountioy de Silverstreet london Marchant Taylor’ pledges himself as a surety for the three accused Frenchmen. They are named as Jacobus Mullett, Abrahamus Trippie and Jacobus Depre. (The two Jacobi would, of course, be Jacques in French and James in English. Mullett is elsewhere written as ...
... it. I thought I was too grand to do interviews, but then I was asked to interview Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the set of some film. So I said, what the hell, I’ll do it. That initited the interviewing period of my life: I remember coming back and thinking. ‘It’s an absolute doddle, interviewing’ – I mean. Elizabeth ...

Terror on the Vineyard

Terry Castle: Boss Ladies, Watch Out!, 15 April 1999

A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman 
by Rosemary Mahoney.
Doubleday, 273 pp., $23.95, November 1998, 9780385479318
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... Christina Crawford’s high-kitsch account of her wretched childhood with her adoptive mother Joan Crawford, is the archetype here – the first and most spectacular of real-life She was mean! books. Yet so many exposés of this kind have appeared over the past twenty years they might be said to constitute a popular mini-genre. Angelica Garnett’s ...

Squealing to Survive

John Lahr: Clancy was here, 19 July 2018

Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal and Raging Egos 
by Clancy Sigal.
Icon, 352 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 1 78578 439 2
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The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years 
by Clancy Sigal.
Bloomsbury, 274 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 4088 8580 2
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... Clancy says. Ba-boom! Stars know his name and call to him: ‘Get the fuck outta here’ (Joan Crawford); ‘Pedantic little shit’ (Humphrey Bogart). On one occasion, the agency demands that he squire Louella Parsons, the doyenne of Hollywood dish, to an elegant company function. While he guides the boozed up Parsons around the dance floor in his ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... was not.’ D.G. Bridson, Laurence Gilliam, Jack Dillon, Douglas Cleverdon, Olive Shapley and Joan Littlewood produced programmes which ranged from adaptations of The Waste Land to features on homelessness and unemployment, from the uncompromisingly highbrow to the popular. Their ‘features’ broke away from the strait jacket of the formal talk or the ...

Tacky Dress

Dale Peck, 22 February 1996

Like People in History: A Gay American Epic 
by Felice Picano.
Viking, 512 pp., $23.95, July 1995, 0 670 86047 6
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How Long Has This Been Going On? 
by Ethan Mordden.
Villard, 590 pp., $25, April 1995, 0 679 41529 7
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The Facts of Life 
by Patrick Gale.
Flamingo, 511 pp., £15.99, June 1995, 0 602 24522 2
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Flesh and Blood 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 480 pp., £14.99, June 1995, 9780241135150
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... At my high school, Daphne du Maurier was on the English department reading list, along with Taylor Caldwell and all those other books by Twain. I read Sydney Sheldon’s first five novels, Judith Krantz’s first three; until I went to college, I believed that Watership Down was the best book I’d ever read – and I was right. What attracted me ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... A wood engraving​ by the illustrator Joan Hassall, who died in 1988, shows Elizabeth Gaskell arriving at the Brontë parsonage. Patrick Brontë is taking Gaskell’s hand; Charlotte stands between them, arms open in a gesture of introduction. We – the spectators, whose gaze Charlotte seems to acknowledge (or is she looking at her father apprehensively?) – stand in the doorway; the participants are framed in the hallway arch, with the curved wooden staircase behind them ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... reduced me to sudden tears.) I began absorbing ever more specialised fare: Macdonald’s books, Taylor and Tuchman on the political background, battle histories of Gallipoli, Verdun and Passchendaele, books about Haig and Kitchener, VAD nurses, brave dead subalterns and monocled mutineers. I read Michael Hurd’s desolating biography – The Ordeal of Ivor ...

When the Floods Came

James Meek: England’s Water, 31 July 2008

... Russell said. ‘They were carried for her by a complete stranger.’ He introduced me to Joan Bufton, whose daughter needs kidney dialysis three times a week; at the height of the floods she was pushed out of Tewkesbury in a wheelchair along a disused railway line. Bufton’s husband suffered a stroke after it was over. ‘I just think it was the ...

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