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A Djinn speaks

Colm Tóibín: What about George Yeats?, 20 February 2003

Becoming George: The Life of Mrs W.B. Yeats 
by Ann Saddlemyer.
Oxford, 808 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 19 811232 7
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... to Maud Gonne, and then became involved with her daughter Iseult, to whom he also proposed. Joseph Hone writes about this in his authorised biography of the poet, published in 1942. When Iseult finally rejected him in the summer of 1917, he decided to propose to a young Englishwoman, Georgie Hyde-Lees. He wrote to Lady Gregory: ‘I certainly feel very ...

Old Verities

Brian Harrison, 19 June 1986

The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form 1832-1867 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 320 pp., £23.25, September 1985, 0 226 27932 4
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Victorian Prison Lives: English Prison Biography 1830-1914 
by Philip Priestley.
Methuen, 311 pp., £14.85, October 1985, 0 416 34770 3
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The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers and Vivisection in Edwardian England 
by Coral Lansbury.
University of Wisconsin Press, 212 pp., £23.50, November 1985, 0 299 10250 5
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‘Orator’ Hunt: Henry Hunt and English Working-Class Radicalism 
by John Belchem.
Oxford, 304 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 19 822759 0
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... he has to portray Hunt as the lone and pioneering John the Baptist, preparing the way for Feargus O’Connor, with Chartism as ‘his true memorial’. In reality, liberalism in the 1820s and later possessed great potential for leftward growth precisely because the gulf between itself and radicalism was always bridgeable, and because its Whig leaders were ...

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Andrew O’Hagan: If something happens to me…, 5 May 2005

... the rain, and Rome seemed a place not of eternities but of passing trade. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor entered the restaurant in his civilian uniform of open-necked shirt and windcheater, smiling to the waiters and taking his usual table. I didn’t approach him, but took time to notice the high-spiritedness of his friends, happy to be in the company of ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary, 13 September 2018

The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... over which Shawn kept the tightest of reins. Brennan’s male colleagues, including Addams, Joseph Mitchell and Brendan Gill (all of them her lovers at one time or another), joked that she had served her apprenticeship in hemlines. But it was the ability to spot the difference between ‘beige’ and ‘bone’ at fifty yards that made her a natural ...

Shapeshifter

Ian Penman: Elvis looks for meaning, 24 September 2014

Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died 
by Dylan Jones.
Duckworth, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2014, 978 0 7156 4856 8
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Elvis Presley: A Southern Life 
by Joel Williamson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 19 986317 4
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... Geller’s arm and pointed out of the bus at some distant clouds, shouting: ‘Look! There’s Joseph Stalin in the clouds! What is he doing up there?’ He had the bus stop, and ran into the desert. ‘Oh my God, Larry, follow me!’ Elvis was babbling, tears running down his face. He grabbed Geller, hugged him and said: ‘You’re right: you told me the ...

When Ireland Became Divided

Garret FitzGerald: The Free State’s Fight for Recognition, 21 January 1999

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy. Vol. I: 1919-22 
edited by Ronan Fanning.
Royal Irish Academy and Department of Foreign Affairs, 548 pp., £30, October 1998, 1 874045 63 1
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... Minister for Finance. Plunkett was a wealthy builder who had been made a Papal Count. His son, Joseph, had visited Germany in 1915 to negotiate aid for the Easter Rising, and had been executed for his part in that event. In a by-election in 1917 Count Plunkett had been elected as an abstentionist Sinn Féin MP, and in the election for the Presidency of the ...

Get a Real Degree

Elif Batuman, 23 September 2010

The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing 
by Mark McGurl.
Harvard, 480 pp., £25.95, April 2009, 978 0 674 03319 1
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... the ‘“surprising point of view” trick’ also has a long pre-Jamesian history. To quote Joseph Addison’s ‘Adventures of a Shilling’ (1710), ‘I was born on the side of a mountain, near a little village of Peru, and made a voyage to England in an ingot, under the convoy of Sir Francis Drake’; the shilling’s later adventures include being ...

A Journey in the South

Andrew O’Hagan: In New Orleans, 6 October 2005

... eventually pulled into a Days Inn near Birmingham, Alabama. Terry looked up. ‘This is where Bull O’Connor, the police chief, turned his damn German shepherds on those little black girls,’ he said. ‘Then he turned a fire hose on those poor fuckers who were marching.’ ‘Cool,’ said Sam, parking the truck with one hand. As the woman at the Days Inn ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... say he seemed numb. Two of the people on his floor mentioned to me by Hamid – Sheila, 84, and Joseph Daniels, an Indian air force veteran, 69 – didn’t make it to the stairs. Several people said they thought the firefighters had gone in to get them.Those coming from the 16th floor passed Sabah Abdullah, 72, and his wife, Khadija Khalloufi, who worked ...

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