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Frocks and Shocks

Hilary Mantel: Jane Boleyn

24 April 2008
Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford 
by Julia Fox.
Phoenix, 398 pp., £9.99, March 2008, 978 0 7538 2386 6
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... episode. When George Boleyn was executed in 1536 with his sister the queen, the allegations against him included incest with Anne, and his own wife is suspected of laying the accusation against him. Fox has set out to find the traces of Jane, and to see if her role can be reworked. Is she maligned, misunderstood? Biography must surely begin with an act of imagination. JuliaFox says: ‘I’m not ...
15 August 1991
Feminism without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism 
by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese.
North Carolina, 347 pp., $27.45, June 1991, 0 8078 1940 9
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... Feminism without Illusions is a series of discussions of different aspects of current feminist theory, written by an author distinguished in her own area, 19th-century history of the American South. Fox-Genovese takes us, on a variety of issues, through the various options of current feminism, and is visibly struggling with its legacy. The official overall target of the book is ‘individualism ...

Was Ma Hump to blame?

John Sutherland: Aldous Huxley

11 July 2002
Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual 
by Nicholas Murray.
Little, Brown, 496 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 316 85492 1
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TheCat's Meow 
directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
April 2002
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... or Huxley has destroyed more young brain cells; Huxley has certainly sold more copies. Murray discerns three events as having formed young Aldous’s personality: the premature death of his mother, Julia Huxley (née Arnold), when he was 14; his temporary blindness three years later; and – most damaging – the suicide of his older brother, Trevenen, who hanged himself when Aldous was 20. These ...


Lorna Scott Fox

22 September 1994
The Still Moment 
by Paul Binding.
Virago, 290 pp., £20, May 1994, 1 85381 441 5
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... Jack’s cousin. But the spectre of incest is already effaced by the angelic evidence of the couple’s child. Gloria’s alternative fate is held up for pity in the figure of her estranged mentor, Julia Mortimer, the schoolteacher bitterly dying during the two days’ present time of the book. She was a fighter, and wanted to improve everybody, and where did that get her? Or them? Losing Battles ...

Where is this England?

Bernard Porter: The Opium War

3 November 2011
The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China 
by Julia​ Lovell.
Picador, 458 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 330 45747 7
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... to remove it when the Chinese asked him? That will have stirred up historical memories, too. Much of the diplomatic row over the opium issue in 1839-42 (the period of the First Opium War, which Julia Lovell’s book focuses on) revolved around who should ‘kowtow’ to whom. It hardly seems surprising that the event has slipped British historical memory. I don’t imagine the topic will make it ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are

5 July 2007
... Often something stranger and more disturbing than anything painters commonly manage comes through. Sir John Herschel’s stubbly chin and wild white hair as they emerge from draped velvet in Julia Margaret Cameron’s photograph do not conform to the painterly canon of images of great men. But many early art photographs do recall paintings. Country people in Peter Henry Emerson’s pictures ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín: Rupert Everett

6 September 2007
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... dancing the night away with a couple of lesbians at Gateways’. This time, however, Rupert had not given Lord Snowdon’s number but the number he was actually calling from, which belonged to Robert Fox and his wife, Celestia. Fox was arrested. ‘Robert’s been arrested,’ his wife said when she rang Rupert and Min. ‘We were just going to bed, and the doorbell rang. Twelve policemen burst into ...


Mary Beard: Set in Tunisia

14 December 2006
... ought to have been sent back to its maker – and certainly would have been by any Roman of taste). The whole thing is lined by two great porticoes, lookalikes of the Basilica Aemilia and Basilica Julia in the Roman Forum, except that here they are complete with their upper storeys. But it is not all grand public buildings. There is an entire Pompeian-style house, with painted reception rooms and an ...

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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... the shock of being there, of having this glimpse, as Charles van Onselen puts it, into ‘the Angel of Death’s laboratory’. Van Onselen’s long, disturbing and magnificently dogged book, The Fox and the Flies, takes us through a grim terrain spread across three continents, a world of squalor and violence, of prostitutes and pimps, of tenements and penitentiaries – the world of the ‘white ...

What makes Rupert run?

Ross McKibbin: Murdoch’s Politics

20 June 2013
Murdoch’s Politics: How One Man’s Thirst for Wealth & Power Shapes Our World 
by David McKnight.
Pluto, 260 pp., £12.99, February 2013, 978 0 7453 3346 5
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... as did Kristol et al. The external battle had become an internal one. McKnight believes that the ideas promoted by these people really mattered to Murdoch; that his papers and TV networks – Fox News in particular – were much more organs of opinion than his British or Australian tabloids. I’m not sure how true that is. ‘Opinion’ comes in many forms and the opinions of the Sun or the ...

The Eerie One

Bee Wilson: Peter Lorre

23 March 2006
The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre 
by Stephen Youngkin.
Kentucky, 613 pp., $39.95, September 2005, 0 8131 2360 7
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... He thought they looked like two soft-boiled eggs, others preferred to call them poached. Either way, any attempt to describe the appearance of Peter Lorre must deal with those eyes. What teeth are to Julia Roberts and lips to Angelina Jolie, his bulging eyes were to Peter Lorre, his unavoidable calling card and a feature quite out of proportion with the norm. He featured in Looney Tunes more than once ...

Eat grass

Jenny Turner: The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

15 July 1999
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing 
by Melissa Bank.
Viking, 274 pp., £9.99, July 1999, 9780670883004
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... not try as hard as I did to understand [my brother]. I was always on his side, no matter what. My parents were, too. All he really had to do with us was show up. More had been expected of him as Julia’s boyfriend and at that party. More would be expected of him everywhere. I didn’t know what had happened between him and Julia. It scared me to think that my brother had failed at loving someone ...

Travels with My Mom

Terry Castle: In Santa Fe

16 August 2007
... out of her house in San Diego for quite a while: this Santa Fe trip is a huge and somewhat nerve-wracking adventure for her. I seem to have been spared: restaurant clatter and the boomy voices of Fox News emanating from the big-screen TV at the bar, thank god, have clearly flooded out her hearing aids. Justice served too: Paris Hilton dragged shrieking back to jail after three days on the lam.My ...

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