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Rose’s Rex

David Cannadine, 15 September 1983

King George V 
by Kenneth Rose.
Weidenfeld, 514 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78245 2
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... the first word on the subject, in the nature of things it could scarcely be the last. By contrast, Kenneth Rose’s superb biography will surely stand as the best and most interesting study of George V that we are ever likely to get. There is much greater understanding by the author of his subject, and the public and private lives are brought together ...

For Kenneth Rexroth, 1905-1982

George Woodcock, 19 January 1984

... a mountain together. Yet all it meant was mountains, and always in your poems the mountains rose, bright as freedom, crystalline as science. Kenneth, you were like Shaw. None of your friends liked you. They loved and sometimes hated, and were held in the spell of a harsh voice reading lines as crystal as runnels of ...

Poor Hitler

Andrew O’Hagan: Toff Humour, 15 November 2007

The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Fourth Estate, 834 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 84115 790 0
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... he was, despite his reputation as an imperialist brute. Superior Person, the biography by Kenneth Rose, makes little mention of the bons mots, but some of them exist in what Curzon would have cringed to hear called the popular memory. ‘Gentlemen do not take soup at luncheon’; ‘Dear me, I never knew that the lower classes had such white ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... Hicks sums up the issues between Keynes and Robertson with magisterial fairness and clarity. And Kenneth Rose reveals that Sir Frederic Hooper, the head of Schweppes, ‘detested the fizzy drinks upon which the prosperity of his firm depended’. One can only agree with that ‘poet, playwright, critic, editor and publisher’, T.S. Eliot (whose later ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine, 16 August 1990

Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... And a clutch of recent biographies has toppled several notable royal icons from their pedestals. Kenneth Rose depicted George V as an ogre so boorish and philistine that in retrospect he appears almost pathetically comical. In his books on Edward VIII, Michael Bloch has washed a great deal of the Abdication dirty linen in public, and much of the mud has ...

The Hierophant

Michael Ledger-Lomas: Servant King, 10 March 2022

George V: Never a Dull Moment 
by Jane Ridley.
Chatto, 559 pp., £30, November 2021, 978 0 7011 8870 2
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For King and Country: The British Monarchy and the First World War 
by Heather Jones.
Cambridge, 576 pp., £29.99, September 2021, 978 1 108 42936 8
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... Castle and stopped corresponding with German relatives. Ridley amplifies a discovery made by Kenneth Rose, whose biography was published in 1983, that the responsibility for rescinding the offer of asylum to the deposed Romanovs lay directly with George. Once captured by the Bolsheviks, the Romanovs couldn’t have escaped Russia anyway, but ...

Miss Fleur gave me the most awful restyle

Elaine Showalter: Joe Orton, 10 December 1998

Between Us Girls 
by Joe Orton.
Hern, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 1 85459 374 9
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‘Fred & Madge’ and ‘The Visitors’ 
by Joe Orton.
Hern, 224 pp., £12.99, October 1998, 1 85459 354 4
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... Between Us Girls in 1957, after he had ended a period of collaboration with his lover and mentor Kenneth Halliwell. A classics scholar and failed actor, Halliwell was devoted to the gay literary canon avant la lettre, and had tutored Orton in the homosexual literary tradition from the Greeks to Genet. ‘Together,’ Francesca Coppa writes in her excellent ...

The Balboan View

Kenneth Silverman: Alfred Kinsey, 7 May 1998

Alfred Kinsey: A Public/Private Life 
by James Jones.
Norton, 937 pp., £28, October 1997, 0 393 04086 0
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... he drove himself hard. He became skilled enough at the keyboard to consider a concert career, and rose to the rarely achieved grade of Eagle Scout. Kinsey’s father wanted him to become a mechanical engineer, but after two years at a local technological school, Alfred resolved to transfer to Bowdoin College, a small liberal arts school in Maine. His father ...

At Dulwich

Emily LaBarge: Helen Frankenthaler, 16 December 2021

... was out of town, her then boyfriend, Clement Greenberg, brought the painters Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland to her studio to see Mountains and Sea. Louis described it as ‘a bridge between Pollock and what was possible’, and said later that he and Noland immediately began ‘staining’ in their own work. (Greenberg went on to champion them as leading ...

Lost Jokes

Alan Bennett, 2 August 1984

... Doyle on the other. It was the only detective story in ballet and was called The Inspectre de la Rose. The choreography was by Fokine. It wasn’t up to much. The usual Fokine rubbish. Ordinarily, good taste in the person of the Lord Chamberlain would have put paid to that last joke. But this was 1968, and Forty Years On was one of the plays on his desk ...

News of the World’s End

Peter Jenkins, 15 May 1980

The Seventies 
by Christopher Booker.
Allen Lane, 349 pp., £7.50, February 1980, 0 7139 1329 0
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The Seventies 
by Norman Shrapnel.
Constable, 267 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 09 463280 4
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... skirts are always the favourite indicator. We all know (or do we?) that between the wars they rose and fell with Wall Street. After seeing Visconti’s The Damned the fashion-writer Alison Adburgham commented (and Shrapnel’s scissors were ready): ‘The film leaves one with a sense of foreboding. If we are to wear the decadent clothes of the 1930s, what ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art, 7 September 2017

... of buggery, and nobody could determine that cross-dressing was a crime. ‘Lilac and Guelder Rose’ by Gluck (1937) There are two studio photographs of ‘The Funny He-She Ladies’, as the newspapers called them, in the Tate’s survey of a century and slightly more of queer British art, from 1861 to 1967, the year male homosexuality was ...

The Road to Chandrapore

Eric Stokes, 17 April 1980

Race, Sex and Class under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their Critics 
by Kenneth Ballhatchet.
Weidenfeld, 199 pp., £9.50, January 1980, 0 297 77646 0
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Queen Victoria’s Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-1898 
by Michael Alexander and Sushila Anand.
Weidenfeld, 326 pp., £9.95, February 1980, 0 297 77656 8
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... and connubium. In Western societies they have operated within the cultural framework of class. Kenneth Ballhatchet takes the equally familiar notion that in colonial societies alien minority rule translated class distinctions into those of race. In India he sees the social aloofness of the ruling white minority as being reinforced during the 19th century ...


Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... Britain duly puts in a guest-appearance: Mrs Thatcher. The Ironised Maiden is in evidence, too, in Kenneth Baker’s anthology of verse parodies, Unauthorised Versions. But then Mr Baker is a Conservative politician, mainstream, main chance. Politically these are authorised versions. One of the entries, by Roger Woddis, sings of ‘The Church of ...

At Pallant House

Eleanor Birne: Pauline Boty, 6 February 2014

... of British Architecture to the headquarters of Barclays Bank, where Boty lit candles and sprinkled rose petals. The Daily Express ran a piece on her, accompanied by a large photograph with the caption: ‘Of all things she is secretary of the ANTI UGLIES.’ The article begins: ‘Miss Pauline Boty assured me that it has nothing to do with policy, which is far ...

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