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What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John LehmannA Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... The first volume of John Lehmann’s autobiography, published in 1955, starts: When I try to remember where my education in poetry began, the first image that comes to mind is that of my father’s library at the old family home of Fieldhead on the Thames. It is an autumn or winter evening after tea, for James the butler has been in to draw the blinds and close the curtains, and my father is reading under a green-shaded lamp ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... home in Santa Monica. The Ransom Center has dovetailing collections of Spender, Connolly and John Lehmann material. NYPL is a main deposit of Auden’s literary remains. Of the five, only the Huntington is a private institution without a university affiliation. Since its foundation in 1929 it has been distinctly Anglophile, and conservative, in its ...

On the Feast of Stephen

Karl Miller: Spender’s Journals, 30 August 2012

New Selected Journals, 1939-95 
by Stephen Spender and Lara Feigel, edited by John Sutherland.
Faber, 792 pp., £45, July 2012, 978 0 571 23757 9
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... I imagine, who stayed with the intriguing literary eminence kindly characterised, eventually, in John Sutherland’s biography.* Nevertheless, a suspicion persisted. Sharp little verses – by Thom Gunn and John Coleman – were flighted; and Ian Hamilton capped it all with a brilliant and damaging New Yorker ...

Woman in Love

Marghanita Laski, 1 April 1983

... Rosamond Lehmann must be one of the most beautiful women ever to have written novels that are worth serious consideration; and one of the most tragic. Wherever one stands on the gamut of believing a need to know or no need to know about the writer in order to make an adequate assessment of the work, some writers force a stance on to the critic ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal, 31 July 2014

... story. It happened that Vidal had information on this subject: both Stephen Spender and John Lehmann had been told by Hugh Walpole – in identical words, apparently – of an occasion mentioned by Edel. Walpole, then young, beautiful, and awed by the Master, had offered himself to James. After a moment of hesitation, James shuddered and ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... of the recordings take the form of interviews, and the presenters don’t make matters any easier; John Lehmann, for example, speaks to Aldous Huxley as if he were questioning him with a view to offering him something at the Foreign Office. Which just goes to show that broadcasting vices existed long before the days of Russell Brand and Jonathan ...

Seventh Eighth Men Uncovered

Humphery Spender, 7 May 1981

... publicity to my brother Stephen in some sensationally farfetched connection with Guy Burgess, John Lehmann and other names they hoped to involve.) ‘Ah that rings a bell,’ and significant looks passed between uniformed men at desks and with telephones. Our identity was doubted until Tom Hopkinson (then editing Picture Post) and the Art Editor of ...

Third World

Frank Kermode, 2 March 1989

... any other audience’. Thus it defied Reith’s doctrine of a BBC-unified culture, and Sir John was heard to protest. For less exalted reasons, it also irritated most of the press. But for a time it survived the traumas of its birth, and under George Barnes and Harman Grisewood there was a reasonably permissive, though it would now also be called an ...


Nina Bawden, 2 February 1984

At the Jazz Band Ball: A Memory of the 1950s 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 251 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 233 97591 8
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... years after the war – Quarto, Departure, the Window. Then, at a party in Kensington, given by John Lehmann and intimidatingly full of ‘famous faces’, he meets John Wain, who is editing a series of books of new poetry. Oakes’s first book of verse is published under the title, Unlucky Jonah. It is well ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... family, after the takeover of the firm by Smith, Elder & Co (itself soon to be taken over by John Murray). A descendant – loyally named Richard Bentley – had lovingly conserved and catalogued them for posterity. In 1967, the BL acquired a tranche of early Macmillan papers: Harold Macmillan, it seems, was keen that the family firm’s archive should ...

Swaying at the Stove

Rosemary Hill: The Cult of Elizabeth David, 9 December 1999

Elizabeth David: A Biography 
by Lisa Chaney.
Pan, 482 pp., £10, September 1999, 0 330 36762 5
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Waiting at the Kitchen Table. Elizabeth David: The Authorised Biography 
by Artemis Cooper.
Viking, 364 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7181 4224 1
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... postwar England. The manuscript had been rejected by several more literal-minded publishers before John Lehmann, the editor of New Writing, took it on at the recommendation of his assistant, Julia Strachey, Lytton Strachey’s niece. So it was as a literary work, with a lingering glow of Bloomsbury behind it, that David’s first book made its ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... in writing a novel about Parliament relates to the characters’ credibility. Trouble begins, as John Lehmann once pointed out, when the author feels obliged to introduce a high-ranking minister. The real-life holders of office are too vividly before our eyes. Camp surmounts this problem by avoiding it. He opts instead for a recent past in industrial ...


Michael Neve, 16 October 1980

My Guru and his Disciple 
by Christopher Isherwood.
Eyre Methuen, 338 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 413 46930 1
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... for putting oneself to this task. Isherwood expressed this with typical simplicity in a letter to John Lehmann in July 1939: ‘I am so sick of being a person.’ The beginnings of his interest in Eastern religion were not easy, and this book starts out by conveying powerfully the Tennysonian quality of ‘honest doubt’ that Isherwood felt towards the ...

The Purser’s Tale

Frank Kermode, 5 April 1984

Home and Dry: Memoirs III 
by Roy Fuller.
London Magazine Editions, 165 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 904388 47 6
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... at Blackheath, eating lunch at Schmidt’s or even the White Tower with the likes of Joe Ackerley, John Lehmann and, once, E.M. Forster. Though a virtual civilian, he remembers getting demobbed at Olympia, choosing from the millions of pinstriped suits and raincoats, one of which proved, in his thrifty hands and posh language, ‘longevous’. And I ...
London Reviews 
edited by Nicholas Spice.
Chatto, 222 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2988 3
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The New Review Anthology 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 31330 0
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Night and Day 
edited by Christopher Hawtree, by Graham Greene.
Chatto, 277 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 07 011296 7
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Lilliput goes to war 
edited by Kaye Webb.
Hutchinson, 288 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 9780091617608
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Penguin New Writing: 1940-1950 
edited by John Lehmann and Roy Fuller.
Penguin, 496 pp., September 1985, 0 14 007484 8
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... Voice any doubt except that. Below Karl Miller’s troubled conscience is an assurance worthy of John Knox, if rather more tolerant. His magazine reflects this – is, indeed, its embodiment. The LRB is the house magazine of the British intellectual élite. In the TLS they talk to the world. In the LRB they talk to each other. The dons let their hair ...

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