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Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000

25 January 2001
... to Mary Magdalene in the garden was probably Alan Titchmarsh. 17 February. Though she complains about having to put on so much make-up and even more about the bore of taking it all off, Maggie Smith seems to enjoy transforming herself into Miss Shepherd, today showing me her grey mottled legs as if they are a newly completed landscape. Shes particularly pleased with the ulcers she has ...

Queening It

Jenny Diski: Nina Simone

25 June 2009
Nina Simone: The Biography 
by David Brun-Lambert.
Aurum, 346 pp., £20, February 2009, 978 1 84513 430 3
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... hero. Were also talking about dissolution and craziness, tantrums, hallucinations, wilderness years, comebacks, more wilderness years and sad endings. We might as well be talking about Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Maria Callas, Janis Joplin, Karen Carpenter or Judy Garland, and several of them get namechecked here – Callas and Holiday repeatedly. All those women artists wracked and torn ...

Saint or Snake

Stefan Collini: Ann Oakley​ on Richard Titmuss

7 October 2015
Father​ and DaughterPatriarchy, Gender​ and Social Science 
by Ann Oakley.
Policy, 290 pp., £13.99, November​ 2014, 978 1 4473 1810 1
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... with an almost religious aura. Even his daughter recognises why he might have been described as ‘an ascetic divine, who ‘with his lean face and compelling eyes, might well have been painted by El Greco’. Saintliness can be an extremely irritating quality, especially when it seems too easily compatible with getting ones own way. Titmuss appears, especially in the second half of his life, ...

God’s Own

Angus Calder

12 March 1992
Empire and English Character 
by Kathryn Tidrick.
Tauris, 338 pp., £24.95, August 1990, 1 85043 191 4
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Into Africa: The story of the East African Safari 
by Kenneth Cameron.
Constable,​ 229 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 09 469770 1
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Burton: Snow upon the Desert 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 428 pp., £19.95, September​ 1990, 0 7195 4818 7
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From the Sierras to the Pampas: Richard Burton’s Travels in the Americas, 1860-69 
by Frank McLynn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 258 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 7126 3789 3
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The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles 
by Nigel​ Barley.
Viking, 276 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 670 83642 7
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... justice and fairness’ with which the British inspired respect in the ‘natives’. ‘No one,effused one settler, ‘has ever left me with the impression of being a “whiter” man.’ Ian Smith’s Selous Scouts sustained his legend. Tidrick, however, can show that this model Rugbcian lied in order to promote the cause of white settlement and empire. In 1889 he stated, with bald falsehood ...
22 February 1996
Blake 
by Peter​ Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September​ 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected​ Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited​ by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected​ Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series​ editor David Bindman, edited​ by Andrew​ Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected​ Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated​ Books 
series​ editor David Bindman, edited​ by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected​ Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe,​ The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited​ by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected​ Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series​ editor David Bindman, edited​ by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November​ 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected​ Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen​ Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited​ by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... suggest, in conversation, or challenged at some promotional event, that he is no more than a freakishly gifted mechanic, someone who can précis the essence of a tale, highlight a convincing mise-en-scène. The checklist of publications – fiction, essay and epic biography – disproves that. The oddity of the Great Work is beginning to emerge: ‘No birth and no death, no beginning and no en...

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