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Those Genes!

Charles Wheeler

17 July 1997
Personal History 
by Katharine Graham.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £25, May 1997, 9780297819646
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... They became, successively, the most influential publishers in the world: Philip Graham, who inherited the Washington Post from his father-in-law, Eugene Meyer, and his shy, self-effacing wife, Katharine, who took over the company when her husband shot himself in 1963. It was Philip Graham who induced John Kennedy to choose Lyndon Johnson as his running-mate in 1960 ...


Christopher Driver

6 October 1983
by Graham Swift.
Heinemann, 310 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 434 75330 0
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Perfect Happiness 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 233 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 434 42740 3
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Scenes from Later Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 333 34204 6
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Summer at The Haven 
by Katharine Moore.
Allison and Busby, 158 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 85031 511 5
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... Of these novels, the one with legs and a long finish, as the wine-tasters say, is Graham Swift’s Waterland, his third. The story – which is at once story and history, erzählung and geschichte – is sustained within, or threaded into, an intricate web of interlocking images. Or rather, to respect its prevailing metaphor, it floats and develops in an amniotic fluid of local, biological and antiquarian detail ...
5 September 1996
Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature 
by Anthony Heilbut.
Macmillan, 636 pp., £20, June 1996, 9780394556338
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Thomas Mann: A Biography 
by Ronald Hayman.
Bloomsbury, 672 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 7475 2531 5
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Thomas Mann: A Life 
by Donald Prater.
Oxford, 554 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 19 815861 0
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... older. In the United States he was befriended and greatly assisted by Agnes B. Meyer, mother of Katharine Graham, wife of the owner of the Washington Post. Mann flattered Meyer in the many letters he wrote to her and had his revenge in his diaries. ‘That stupid and tyrannical old bag irritates me,’ he wrote, referring to her as ‘the decidedly ...

Outfits to die for

Gabriele Annan

10 February 1994
A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women 1930-60 
by Jeanine Basinger.
Chatto, 528 pp., £14.99, January 1994, 0 7011 6093 4
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... made over her sexy little body, her pouty mouth, her flirtatious ways. No less an authority than Graham Greene pointed out, after seeing Captain January, that she had an appeal ‘interestingly decadent’. All of this infuriates the grown-up Temple, and who can blame her? All she really did was tap her guts out in a series of well-made, unpretentious and ...
6 March 1997
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... wants to be Cary Grant,’ Grant said. ‘Even I want to be Cary Grant.’ This is the Cary Grant Graham McCann is interested in. He confronts his subject as if he were less a person than an effect – the self-referential hero, endlessly, classily ironic. McCann has not just written the story of how Archie Leach became Cary Grant, or an analysis of how much ...

Fog has no memory

Jonathan Meades: Postwar Colour(lessness)

19 July 2018
The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain 
by Lynda Nead.
Yale, 416 pp., £35, October 2017, 978 0 300 21460 4
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... evidently strained every sinew. It apparently infects the 1947 film of Brighton Rock, based on Graham Greene’s novel of 1938. With the exception of Ida’s Pierrot troupe there is little in the film to suggest any link to Victorian England. But then the ‘structure of feeling’ is a woolly conceit, almost a faith. Proof isn’t required. A Brighton ...

How did she get those feet?

Alice Spawls: The Female Detective

20 February 2014
The Notting Hill Mystery: The First Detective Novel 
by Charles Warren Adams.
British Library, 312 pp., £8.99, February 2012, 978 0 7123 5859 0
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The Female Detective: The Original Lady Detective 
by Andrew Forrester.
British Library, 328 pp., £8.99, October 2012, 978 0 7123 5878 1
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Revelations of a Lady Detective 
by William Stephens Hayward.
British Library, 278 pp., £8.99, February 2013, 978 0 7123 5896 5
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... Unknown Weapon’, the most complex of the stories, she has to solve an especially knotty murder. Graham Petleigh, the destitute son of a miserly squire is found dead outside his father’s country house. What and where is the murder weapon? Why was a large black trunk delivered to the house on the day of the murder and where has it gone now? Why won’t the ...
14 May 1992
Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years 
by Brian Boyd.
Chatto, 783 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 7011 3701 0
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... that overrides all other categorical imperatives. We see it in Racine, in Wuthering Heights, in Graham Greene, in Les Liaisons dangereuses, in Love in the Time of Cholera – love as a terminal illness. In contrast, we may consider the nous of Auden: ‘we meet romantically passionate engaged couples, but never a couple of whom we can say that their ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian Moore

10 August 2000
Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... writing I Am Mary Dunne and wrote a screenplay for The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, in which Katharine Hepburn was to play the lead. (It was never used; many years later the role was played by Maggie Smith.) Moore wrote to Friel: ‘I know this sounds un-Ulster and extreme, but as it is much easier for me to say it in print than to your face, I am first ...


David Bromwich: This was Orson Welles

3 June 2004
Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life 
by Peter Conrad.
Faber, 384 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 571 20978 5
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... have guessed how Welles’s performance in the big scene would alter the dynamic of the film. Graham Greene wrote the hero and the hero’s friend as Englishmen; getting Welles for Harry Lime meant taking another American for his friend Holly; and the casting of Joseph Cotten as the loyal friend could not help pointing to Citizen Kane. This prepared ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe

27 September 2012
All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... Elsie de Wolfe and her Broadway-producer lover Bessie Marbury; the actresses Eva Le Gallienne, Katharine Cornell, Ona Munson, Teddie Gerard, Tallulah Bankhead and Hope Williams; the rakish lesbian salonnière Natalie Barney; Dolly Wilde (Oscar’s opium-addicted niece); Marie Laurencin, painter and friend of Picasso; the Ballets Russes dancer Tamara ...

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