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Fashion Flashes

Zoë Heller, 26 January 1995

Kenneth TynanLetters 
edited by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 669 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 297 81076 6
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... French cabaret songs on the radio as I write and I have just lit a cigarette. Try and see me. Kenneth Tynan, aged 18, writing from Edgbaston, to his girlfriend Pauline Whittle We are suspicious of elegant letters. In personal correspondence we expect some trade-off between sincerity and style. The thrice-repeated adjective, the nerdy exclamation ...

Skating Charm

James Wolcott: Kenneth Tynan, 13 December 2001

The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan 
edited by John Lahr.
Bloomsbury, 439 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 7475 5418 8
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... Kenneth Tynan smoked like a maestro, an aficionado of his own smooth technique. As the stripper sings in Gypsy, ‘Ya gotta have a gimmick,’ and photograph after photograph shows Tynan squiring a cigarette between the tips of his middle and ring fingers (his trademark), each puff drawing attention to the languid elegance of his long, slender, concert-pianist hands ...

The Partisan Coffee House

Nicholas Faith, 1 June 2017

... it hosted meetings addressed not just by usual suspects such as Michael Foot, Barbara Castle, Kenneth Tynan, the publisher John Calder, Doris Lessing, Michael Redgrave and Wolf Mankowitz, but also such distinguished figures as William Empson. ‘Events’ were held in the basement where various tendencies including ‘skiffle, trad jazz, performance ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... stage. Jonathan Miller recognises this in his discursive book, when he offers almost a eulogy of Kenneth Tynan as a creator of excitement. ‘Theatre became exotic and desirable because he thought it was. I no longer turn to the theatre pages with the excitement that I once did and although contemporaries like Alan Brien lacked ...


Marilyn Butler, 22 January 1981

Three-Quarter Face 
by Penelope Gilliatt.
Secker, 295 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780436179587
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Show People 
by Kenneth Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77842 0
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When the lights go down 
by Pauline Kael.
Boyars, 592 pp., £8.95, August 1980, 0 7145 2726 2
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... are themselves adding’. Most of us would never have heard of Penelope Gilliatt and of the late Kenneth Tynan if they had not been weekly columnists. Both made a name as the Observer’s regular reviewers of (respectively) films and the theatre. It is true that Gilliatt was also a novelist, and that Tynan became the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Tweeting at an Execution, 6 October 2011

... watched his two friends, the killers Perry and Hickock, being murdered in cold blood by the state. Kenneth Tynan, reviewing the book Capote later wrote, said that for the first time a writer in the front rank had been in a position to campaign against an execution and had failed to do so in order to get his book. Nowadays, you can have your cake and tweet ...

Watching himself go by

John Lahr, 4 December 1980

by Noël Coward.
Eyre Methuen, 358 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 46050 9
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... contributes to his legend. His work was so successful as an advertisement for himself that Kenneth Tynan, I think rightly, observed: ‘even the youngest of us will know in fifty years’ time what we mean by “a very Noël Coward sort of person”.’ Like all great entertainers, Coward knew how to exploit his moment. In the Thirties Cyril ...

At the Rob Tufnell Gallery

August Kleinzahler: Christopher Logue, 5 November 2015

... John (We think you should be sacked because)’ (1967) Logue was introduced to Anderson by Kenneth Tynan soon after his return to London. Around this time he had begun working on his translations from the Iliad with Donald Carne-Ross, and published a poem in the New Statesman grandly titled ‘To My Fellow Artists’. He found the atmosphere in ...


Ronald Bryden, 10 December 1987

The Life of Kenneth Tynan 
by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £16.95, September 1987, 9780297790822
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... Kathleen Tynan says that she wavered for some time between writing a personal memoir of her 16 years with her husband Kenneth and embarking on a full-dress biography, embracing the 36 before they met. As she foresaw, making the second choice has produced an odd, hybrid book, not quite one thing nor the other ...

Seriously ugly

Gabriele Annan, 11 January 1990

Weep no more 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 166 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 241 12200 7
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... to give a full list, but among those chosen were Peter Quennell, Feliks Topolski, Alan Ross, Kenneth Tynan and Charles Addams, as well as a lot of extras with names like Old B., the Bastard and Chuff. She did not waste her time with intellectuals, but absorbed their appreciation of art and literature. She has always got her nose in Henry James or ...

Brief Encounters

Andrew O’Hagan: Gielgud and Redgrave, 5 August 2004

Gielgud's Letters 
edited by Richard Mangan.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, March 2004, 0 297 82989 0
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Secret Dreams: A Biography of Michael Redgrave 
by Alan Strachan.
Weidenfeld, 484 pp., £25, April 2004, 0 297 60764 2
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... audiences howling into their tumblers for years. To someone like me who grew up thinking Kenneth Williams was the perfect English gentleman (and imagining Russell Harty and Lily Savage to be the perfect Northern blokes), the words of Norman Tebbit are not just mad in the way you’d expect from him, but also profoundly at odds with something ...

Gravity’s Python

Raymond Williams, 4 December 1980

From Fringe to Flying Circus 
by Roger Wilmut.
Eyre Methuen, 264 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 413 46950 6
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... to have even this broadly adulatory record of the last twenty years of – what? It seems that Kenneth Tynan first called it satire. Others have called ‘it’ almost everything, but the only reasonably constant factor, of any importance, is a specific conjunction of university revue with popular television. Yet that can then override the obvious ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... Forsyth are vignetted time and again. The theatre critic Alan Brien makes more appearances than Kenneth Tynan, but is worth his place. He once accompanied Mr and Mrs Macmillan on a visit to Tyneside, to the North Sands shipyard. The ‘bronchial blast’ of a hooter sounded, startling Macmillan. ‘Lady Dorothy was quicker on the uptake. “When the ...

Late Capote

Julian Barnes, 19 February 1981

Music for Chameleons 
by Truman Capote.
Hamish Hamilton, 262 pp., £7.95, February 1981, 0 241 10541 2
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... When Other Voices, Other Rooms was published, ‘the press seized upon an infant prodigy,’ wrote Kenneth Tynan, ‘photographing him crouched behind bushes, lurking in the depths of chairs, or rolling on rugs, always with a lock of fair hair obscuring one wicked eye.’ The cover picture to that first novel was itself notorious: the author, in check ...


David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... mismatch of Abbott and Costello and closer to the exasperated camaraderie of Laurel and Hardy; as Kenneth Tynan put it, they were ‘no longer comic and stooge, but egoists in more or less equal competition’. They still told jokes and performed in sketches that required only caricature-acting, but now their roles were blurring to the point at which ...

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