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The Playboy of West 29th Street

Colm Tóibín: Yeats’s Father in Exile, 25 January 2018

... half-whisper that someone called Colm Tóibín was in the library looking at the correspondence of John Butler Yeats, which had been transcribed, then typed, then donated to the library by William M. Murphy, John Butler Yeats’s biographer. And now I looked up from the Yeats letters to find a man looking at me. It ...

On the white strand

Denis Donoghue, 4 April 1991

The Selected Writings of Jack B. Yeats 
edited by Robin Skelton.
Deutsch, 246 pp., £12.99, March 1991, 0 233 98646 4
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... painted The Priest perhaps fifteen years later. Jack B. Yeats was born on 29 August 1871, son of John Butler Yeats and Susan Yeats, at 23 Fitzroy Road, London. His brother, William Butler Yeats, was then six years old. John Butler Yeats was a portrait painter in search of ...

To the End of the Line

Ferdinand Mount: The Red Dean, 26 April 2012

The Red Dean of Canterbury: The Public and Private Faces of Hewlett Johnson 
by John Butler.
Scala, 292 pp., £16.95, September 2011, 978 1 85759 736 3
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... from the Stalin Peace Prize which he had won the year before was icing on a substantial cake. John Butler is a Canterbury man and an emeritus professor at the University of Kent, best known for his book The Quest for Becket’s Bones. The dean now and then compared his own struggles for truth with those of St Thomas, though the dean’s bones and ...

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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... Shortly before he died in 1922, John Butler Yeats wrote an angry, defensive letter to his eldest son William. W.B. Yeats had published a memoir in the Dial and his father objected to the almost parenthetical mention in one episode of an ‘enraged’ Yeats family. The remark unleashed in him a long-restrained irritation, prompting an impassioned defence of his daughters ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... was not conventionally handsome.’ The crayon sketch of Connolly on the jacket, by Augustus John, is no oil painting. But what might make us reluctant to spring to Connolly’s defence is that he said the same sort of thing about others, while characteristically mingling it with self-disgust: ‘Back in London met Princess Bibesco and did not care for ...

The Staidness of Trousers

E.S. Turner, 6 June 1996

A Peculiar Man: A Life of George Moore 
by Tony Gray.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 344 pp., £20, April 1996, 1 85619 578 3
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... obscene’. So it is a comfort to find all these cruelties belied in the portrait of Moore by John Butler Yeats, reproduced in Gray’s book. There sits a harmless, walrus-moustached gentleman of 53, a little melancholy in expression, but by no means satyr-like, fresh-from-the-womb or squiffy. The year of the portrait was 1905, when ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Reading Butler, 5 August 2004

... model in Washington. Tony Blair’s assurance was given as a response to the publication of the Butler Report (Stationery Office, £22.50), which he assumes has demonstrated that he is not in fact the Bliar of all those banners that were carried down Whitehall eighteen months ago. The report does no such thing, because no report, even one a great deal more ...

Top Failure

John Rodgers, 17 September 1981

R.A. ButlerAn English Life 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Quartet, 167 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 7043 2258 7
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... Patrick Cosgrave presents us in this short book with a remarkable analysis of why Mr Butler was never chosen to be prime minister. When I think of Rab Butler, I recall Addison’s words: ‘’Tis not in mortals to command success, but we’ll do more, Sempronius, we’ll deserve it ...

The Human Frown

John Bayley, 21 February 1991

Samuel ButlerA Biography 
by Peter Raby.
Hogarth, 334 pp., £25, February 1991, 0 7012 0890 2
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... Samuel Butler might be seen as one of those liberators who escort readers and admirers into a new airy sort of cell, and turn the key with an air of bestowing on them perfect freedom and emancipation of mind. So effective a freedom fighter was he, at least on one front, that his message and his books may now seem not much more than literary curiosities ...

Post-Modern Vanguard

Edward Mendelson, 3 September 1981

After the Wake: An Essay on the Contemporary Avant-Garde 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 177 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 815766 5
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... Christopher Butler’s survey of post-war literature, music and painting maintains a judicious critical distance from its subject. Readers who wish a more direct report from the front lines of the avant-garde should consult a new anthology, Collective Consciousness: Art Performances in the Seventies, edited by Jean Dupuy ...

Sit like an Apple

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Artists’ Wives, 23 October 2008

Hidden in the Shadow of the Master: The Model-Wives of Cézanne, Monet and Rodin 
by Ruth Butler.
Yale, 354 pp., £18.99, July 2008, 978 0 300 12624 2
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... Monet did not pay her to sit for him: like the other two women who are the subject of Ruth Butler’s new book – Hortense Fiquet (Paul Cézanne) and Rose Beuret (Auguste Rodin) – Doncieux was first the artist’s mistress and later his wife. Hiring a model cost a minimum of one franc an hour; painting the woman who already shared your bed was ...

Howl, Howl, Howl!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Fanny Kemble, 22 May 2008

Fanny Kemble: A Performed Life 
by Deirdre David.
Pennsylvania, 347 pp., £26, June 2007, 978 0 8122 4023 8
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... that included her aunt, Sarah Siddons, her father, Charles, and her uncle, the great tragedian John Philip Kemble, Fanny herself was deeply ambivalent towards the theatre. She first aspired to be a writer rather than an actress; and it was only when the family faced bankruptcy that the latest Kemble was swiftly prepared for the stage. As the manager and ...

Redheads in Normandy

R.W. Johnson: The 1997 election, 22 January 1998

The British General Election of 1997 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 343 pp., £17.50, November 1997, 0 333 64776 9
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Labour's Landslide 
by Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge.
Manchester, 211 pp., £40, December 1997, 0 7190 5159 2
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Britain Votes 1997 
edited by Pippa Norris and Neil Gavin.
Oxford, 253 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 9780199223220
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Collapse of Stout Party: The Decline and Fall of the Tories 
by Julian Crtitchley and Morrison Halcrow.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £20, November 1997, 0 575 06277 0
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Les Election Legislatives, 25 Mai-1er Juin 1997: Le president desavoue 
Le Monde, 146 pp., frs 45, June 1998Show More
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... landslide year, that the first Nuffield election study appeared, with the hand of a young David Butler already apparent. It was, sadly, a jejune and disappointing volume which explains very little of the last great realigning election of modern times. Since then Butler has taken an increasingly dominant role in the ...

Drink hard, pray hard and simply vanish

Jack Rakove: The history of the American revolution, 5 April 2001

Becoming America: The Revolution Before 1776 
by Jon Butler.
Harvard, 324 pp., £19.50, May 2000, 0 674 00091 9
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Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans 
by Joyce Appleby.
Harvard, 322 pp., £17.95, May 2000, 0 674 00236 9
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... to be found in its colonial past, or are they better located in the break with Britain? Jon Butler argues the former, Joyce Appleby the latter. Butler also wants to argue, however, that although a recognisably modern society took shape in America during the ‘provincial decades’ following initial colonisation ...

JC’s Call

J.I.M. Stewart, 2 April 1981

Joseph Conrad: Times Remembered 
by Joseph Conrad.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £10.50, March 1981, 0 521 22805 0
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... died at the age of 67 on 3 August 1924, the day following the 18th birthday of his younger son, John Conrad, the author of the present book. John’s memories, which reach astonishingly far back into his earliest childhood, begin with his family living in poverty in a tiny cottage, ‘a dark and gloomy place’, at ...

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