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Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen, 4 June 2020

Tastes of Honey: The Making of Shelagh Delaney and a Cultural Revolution 
by Selina Todd.
Chatto, 304 pp., £18.99, August 2019, 978 1 78474 082 5
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A Taste of Honey 
by Shelagh Delaney.
Methuen, 112 pp., £14.44, November 2019, 978 1 350 13495 9
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... When​ Shelagh Delaney, all of 19, started writing A Taste of Honey, it had only two characters: Jo, the 15-year-old Salford school-leaver whose choices and chances structure the story, and her forty-year-old often skint but always cadging mother, Helen. Other characters were added later. Peter, the louche businessman with a ‘wallet full of reasons’ to lure Helen offstage and into a brief marriage for the play’s middle sections ...

Plugs of Muscle

Joanna Kavenna, 5 July 2001

A Friend of the Earth 
by T.C. Boyle.
Bloomsbury, 275 pp., £15.99, October 2000, 9780747547532
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... sexuality: sadism, masochism, fetishism, ‘antipathetic sexual instinct’) and Havelock Ellis, whose study Sexual Inversion was published in 1897 and banned in England after the Wilde trial. Unable to decide whether they should blame McCormick or his cool, mannish wife, his doctors confidently advise a variety of vastly expensive, increasingly ...

Dentists? No Way

Naoise Dolan, 7 January 2021

As You Were 
by Elaine Feeney.
Harvill Secker, 392 pp., £14.99, August 2020, 978 1 78730 163 4
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... still tweets their names: Martin Francis Bane, 3 months; Mary Margaret Jordan, 18 months; John Joseph Mills, 5 months. Feeney herself is creative director of the Tuam Oral History Project, an archive of survivor testimonies.This history echoes throughout As You Were. We hear of one pregnant woman about to be sent to Tuam in the early 1950s. When she ...


Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... incident he was four years married to his first wife, Nancy, with one young child (Nancy Jr) and a second (Frank Jr) just about to arrive. He dressed like other adults of the time. (His sole concession to dandyism was a lasciviously Borromean, outsize bow-tie.) His day-to-day social intercourse was conducted among ...

Body Parts

Lawrence Stone, 24 November 1994

The Making of Victorian Sexuality 
by Michael Mason.
Oxford, 338 pp., £17.95, April 1994, 0 19 812247 0
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The Making of Victorian Sexual Attitudes 
by Michael Mason.
Oxford, 256 pp., £17.99, October 1994, 0 19 812292 6
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... culturally and psychologically, about every aspect of sex. The process culminated in Havelock Ellis and Freud in the 19th century, and in Masters and Johnson and their imitators in the 20th. Foucault was a philosopher who knew little history, so he read scientific texts and paid scant attention to the enormous weight of evidence supporting the theory that ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... a man’s domain on equal terms. So, too, with the slightly more ambiguously gendered Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. As in surgery, literary sex change is an ugly operation and female chauvinists must rejoice to see a complete turn of the wheel in those areas of fiction where the practice is still necessary. When the Texan six-footer Tom Huff wished to ...

Mandela: Death of a Politician

Stephen W. Smith: Mandela, the Politician, 9 January 2014

... exile in Nigeria. In 2006, when the former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano negotiated with Joseph Kony for his peaceful surrender, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) rejected the deal because it would have granted the commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army impunity. Kony is still at large and many civilians have continued to ...


James Wolcott: Rick Moody, 19 September 2002

The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... he washes down a dozen Quaaludes with Jack Daniels. His youthful exploits make for a Bret Easton Ellis cocktail of privilege, debauchery and brand-names. ‘Barbara, the cocaine abuser, had encouraged me, after a night at Danceteria, to chop lines of that fell drug with her on her parents’ Roy Lichtenstein print.’ True co-dependency is achieved when he ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005, 5 January 2006

... 16 March. To St Etheldreda’s, Ely Place for the funeral of Anna Haycraft (aka Alice Thomas Ellis) who died a week or so ago in Wales and whose body had therefore to be brought down for the funeral and then presumably taken back to Wales to be buried beside Colin, her late husband, at their Welsh farmhouse. This, I gather, is pretty remote and the track ...

Beyond the Cringe

John Barrell: British Art, 2 June 2016

Art in Britain 1660-1815 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 367 pp., £55, October 2015, 978 0 300 21556 4
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... is designed to replace Painting in Britain 1530-1790, a volume of the Pelican history of art by Ellis Waterhouse, which was first published in 1953 and appeared in five separate editions, the last in 1994, nine years after Waterhouse’s death. Waterhouse’s history was quickly recognised as a classic. To a large extent he made the subject he was ...

Berenson’s Elixir

Simon Schama, 1 May 1980

Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... themselves. On learning of BB’s descent on Widener’s optimistically attributed collection J.P. Morgan gloated: ‘I hear Berenson’s gone to Philadelphia to bust up Widener’s collection.’ And to promote their services, the Berensons had to suppress their refined nausea at plutocratic vulgarity. At one house they sat through a concert of ...

Barbed Wire

Reviel Netz, 20 July 2000

... of his barbs, they ‘will be sure to penetrate the skin and give pain’; five years later, Joseph Connelly of Pennsylvania claimed that his variety of wire would ‘resist force and turn stock without entangling or otherwise injuring them’.As humans learned more about animal pain, so animals learned more about human violence. A commercial leaflet ...

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