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The Devil upon Two Sticks

Charles Nicholl: Samuel Foote, 23 May 2013

Mr Foote’s Other Leg: Comedy, Tragedy and Murder in Georgian London 
by Ian Kelly.
Picador, 462 pp., £18.99, October 2012, 978 0 330 51783 6
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... with a gleeful salvo of puns and bon-mots, an echo of which can be heard in the title of Ian Kelly’s splendid new biography. Ever the theatrical opportunist, he was soon back onstage, with a new prosthesis and two new comedies fit for purpose: The Lame Lover, in which he played the lecherous Sir Luke Limp; and The Devil upon Two Sticks, a satire on the ...

Act One, Scene One

David Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose, 16 February 2017

... who warmly sympathised with Hitler’s politics. (How many of these people also know that John F. Kennedy was an early supporter of America First?) But the underlying question was not whether Trump was giving a secret signal to anti-Semites – among his biggest supporters are the prime minister of Israel and the mayor of Jerusalem – but rather what ...

Lumpy, Semi-Dorky, Slouchy, Smarmy

John Lanchester, 23 August 2001

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... the cops had in December consulted a New York psychiatrist called James Brussel, described by John Douglas as ‘the father of behavioural profiling’. Douglas is the FBI man who inspired Thomas Harris to invent the character Jack Crawford in the Hannibal Lecter novels, so he should know. This is the psychological portrait Brussel came up with of the Mad ...

At The Hutton Enquiry

Daniel Soar: Hutton’s Big Top, 11 September 2003

... pick up the pieces. And it will. Downing Street’s first-choice strategy for the outing of David Kelly – writing, semi-publicly, to the Intelligence and Security Committee to offer him as a witness – was vetoed by Ann Taylor MP, the Committee’s chairman, whose staff refused to be sent the suggested letter. In her testimony to the Inquiry, Taylor ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... is to chronicle the career of the Kembles, brother and sister (the later dynasty is outside Linda Kelly’s scope). However, as the subtitle hints, it is also, in some indeterminate degree, a study of theatrical life in the period. It could also be described as group biography, since the principals have to share top billing with Mrs Inchbald, Sheridan, Thomas ...

The Robots Are Coming

John Lanchester, 5 March 2015

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies 
by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.
Norton, 306 pp., £17.99, January 2014, 978 0 393 23935 5
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Average Is Over: Powering America beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation 
by Tyler Cowen.
Plume, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2014, 978 0 14 218111 9
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... classicus in the study of computing, robotics and futurism, and is discussed at length in both John Kelly and Steve Hamm’s Smart Machines and Tyler Cowen’s Average Is Over.2 Watson won, easily. Its performance wasn’t perfect: it thought Toronto was in the US, and when asked about a word with the double meaning ‘stylish elegance, or students ...

Short Cuts

Norman Dombey: False Intelligence, 19 February 2004

... concerning Iraq’s mobile biological weapons laboratories was immediately criticised by David Kelly, who recognised them as trucks bought from Marconi for filling balloons with hydrogen. David Kelly and Brian Jones were not the only ones to have doubts about the dossier: similar doubts were expressed by nuclear ...

Who was he?

Charles Nicholl: Joe the Ripper, 7 February 2008

The Fox and the Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath 
by Charles van Onselen.
Cape, 672 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 224 07929 7
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... They found Mary Jane Kelly lying on her bed, in the dingy room she rented in Miller’s Court, off Dorset Street in Spitalfields. She was about 25 years old, a colleen from County Limerick, ‘possessed of considerable attractions’. Widowed young, she had turned, like thousands of others in late Victorian London, to prostitution ...

Punk Counterpunk

Bee Wilson, 20 November 2014

Vivienne Westwood 
by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly.
Picador, 463 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 1 4472 5412 6
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... and Westwood) ran on the King’s Road. There is fierce disagreement as to whether Westwood or John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, thought up the title ‘Anarchy in the UK’ – he says it was him; she says it was her – but there is no doubt that she had a powerful influence on the way punks, including Lydon, dressed. She was the first to design T-shirts ...

One Stock and Nation

Christopher Kelly: Roman Britain, 11 February 2010

The Recovery of Roman Britain 1586-1906: A Colony so Fertile 
by Richard Hingley.
Oxford, 389 pp., £83, June 2008, 978 0 19 923702 9
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... of Scotland was not always appealing to antiquaries in England. Two of the most important – John Horsley and William Stukeley – paraded, like Camden and Roy, their first-hand knowledge of Roman monuments. Horsley assured readers of Britannia Romana (1733) that in gathering the materials for his chorography ‘several thousand miles were travelled on ...

A Misreading of the Law

Conor Gearty: Why didn’t Campbell sue?, 19 February 2004

Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr David Kelly CMG 
by Lord Hutton.
Stationery Office, 740 pp., £70, January 2004, 0 10 292715 4
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... despised abroad and at home, this crowing may prove not to have been the wisest of moves. David Kelly’s decision to take his own life on 17 July 2003 produced a wave of public revulsion against the government, and against the prime minister in particular. It could have seemed a relatively minor event – the sad death of an eminent public servant who had ...

Subjects or Aliens?

Matthew Kelly: Postwar Irish Migration, 9 October 2008

The Irish in Postwar Britain 
by Enda Delaney.
Oxford, 232 pp., £55, September 2007, 978 0 19 927667 7
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... Irish, many of them young women. Among its employees was my grandfather Sean (known in Britain as John), who drove a District Line train until ill-health forced him to retire in the 1970s. Irish muscle was most useful to the expanding building trade, reviving the clichéd image of the Irish navvy. The Irish were good workers who took pride in the belief that ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Spun and Unspun, 7 August 2003

... all calculated artifice. The analogy was brought to mind two weeks ago by the death of David Kelly, a real event which intruded in a shocking way on the calculated artificiality of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee before which he’d been called, a body convened on the face of it to determine whether the Government had earlier misled all of us ...

House-Cleaning

David Bromwich: I met a Republican, 7 March 2019

... of Trump in 2016. The new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the national security adviser, John Bolton, are believers in US force projection whose appetite for wars can only frustrate Trump’s announced purpose to withdraw from the wars we are already in. The extent to which this president understands so basic a fact about a government he nominally ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... Shortly after the Canary Wharf bomb, John Major, speaking in the House of Commons, said: ‘As for the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA, I think that they are both members one of another.’ Sinn Fein, he continued, would now have to decide whether it wanted to be a constitutional party or continue as a front for the IRA ...

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