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2 August 1984
Selected Letters of E.M. Forster: Vol. I: 1879-1920 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... on Forster’s personal and professional relations. They are interesting when they involve Oscar Browning – who brought Forster to see six chickens he tended – G.L. Dickinson, E.J. Dent, Siegfried Sassoon, Forrest Reid and Edward Carpenter. Interesting, too, when they involve places, travels, holidaying. Forster had what sounds like a very long ...


A.N. Wilson

14 May 1992
Evelyn Waugh: No Abiding City 1939-1966 
by Martin Stannard.
Dent, 523 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 460 86062 3
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... that may be). In 1952 he went all the way to Goa to venerate the body of St Francis Xavier. ‘One brown stump of toe emerging from white wrapping,’ he noted approvingly. ‘Body fully vested, one grey forearm and hand, and grey clay-like skull visible.’ This seems only a step away from the pet cemetery in Forest Lawn, and Waugh’s gleeful interviews with ...

Rotten as Touchwood

Loraine Fletcher

21 September 1995
The Poems of Charlotte Smith 
edited by Stuart Curran.
Oxford, 335 pp., £35.50, March 1994, 9780195078732
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... children’s books. Her poems have been collected and admirably annotated by Stuart Curran at the Brown University Women Writers Project. The edition gathers together all the Elegiac Sonnets that appeared in the 1780s and 1790s, and two longish blank verse poems, ‘The Emigrants’ and ‘Beachy Head’, as well as animal fables and occasional verse more ...


Gabriele Annan

6 March 1997
The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stan ford White Family 
by Suzannah Lessard.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £18.99, March 1997, 0 297 81940 2
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...  ...
25 April 1991
A Passionate Apprentice. The Early Journals of Virginia Woolf, 1897-1909 
edited by Mitchell Leaska.
Hogarth, 444 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 7012 0845 7
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A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf 
by Jane Dunn.
Cape, 338 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 224 02234 2
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... earliest diaries are the worst. ‘Very foggy all morning, and we did not go out. Stella went to Laura, and was away for luncheon and tea. We lunched at 1, and afterwards went to the Zoo, bussing to Park Lane, and then to Baker St.’ ‘Father and I went for a walk after breakfast’; ‘I did not go out with father in the morning because he had a ...

I have nothing to say and I am saying it

Philip Clark: John Cage’s Diary

15 December 2016
The Selected Letters of John Cage 
edited by Laura Kuhn.
Wesleyan, 618 pp., £30, January 2016, 978 0 8195 7591 3
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Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) 
by John Cage, edited by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel.
Siglio, 176 pp., £26, October 2015, 978 1 938221 10 1
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... felt strongly that it didn’t and shouldn’t. In order to cope with the demands of his mailbox, Laura Kuhn tells us, he adopted the Note-O-Gram – a new piece of technology that anticipated the functionality of email while retaining the aura of a letter. Cage would write in his blocky handwriting on a top sheet, over colour-coded reply sheets and carbon ...


John Bayley

24 March 1994
Christina Rossetti: A Biography 
by Frances Thomas.
Virago, 448 pp., £9.99, February 1994, 1 85381 681 7
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... The Victorians revelled in it. Stephen Foster’s audience grieved for Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, the lost one ‘who comes not again’. The big Romantics all had their more portentous versions, from Lucy ceasing to be, to Shelley’s solipsistic sad heart, filled with grief ‘but with delight/No more, oh nevermore’. Poe’s sardonic raven ...

I want to be her clothes

Kevin Kopelson: Kate Moss

20 December 2012
Kate: The Kate Moss Book 
by Kate Moss, edited by Fabien Baron, Jess Hallett and Jefferson Hack.
Rizzoli, 368 pp., £50, November 2012, 978 0 8478 3790 8
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... yet ‘monstrous “belle”’ (Craig McDean); ‘powerful’ yet ‘vulnerable’ (Laura Collins); ‘unobtainable’ yet ‘accessible’ (Collins again). Or to quote the photographer David Bailey: ‘She’s the kind of girl you wished lived next door, but she’s never going to.’ Many of these descriptions – perfect yet ...

Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs

17 July 2008
Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... which is a sign of how vivid the early traumas remain. She likes both Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, and resents Downing Street’s failure to make better use of her as an ‘asset’, but doesn’t notice that the two presidential wives have a clarity to their respective roles that she never seeks in her own. She eventually sees through Carole ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan

7 June 2018
... he said, “I want a new one.” The one he wanted cost £900. We bought it.’Nicholas Paget-Brown​ , who was then the leader of the council, lives alone not far from the Fulham Road. His gentle manners precede him, in the style of a decently prepped, slightly fogeyish man of the 1950s, and he acts as if he might find the modern world fascinating were ...
17 March 2011
... leaves us hardly more curious of her process, or of the experience in her that fed it, than the brown thrush who tells his story from the garden bough.’ He alluded sarcastically to ‘the body of publishers, editors, illustrators, producers of the pleasant twaddle of magazines, who have found their “dear”, our dear, everybody’s dear, Jane so ...

Family Business

Fred Halliday

17 July 1997
... the Islamic vigilantes attached to the Ministry of the Interior, who tour the city in brown jeeps, harassing inadequately covered women and anyone who fails to observe the hours of prayer. Investigations into the second bomb remain even more obscure: there have been many arrests in areas suspected of fundamentalist influence, both Sunni and ...

Four Thousand, Tops

Michael Wood: Headlong by Michael Frayn

14 October 1999
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 395 pp., £16.99, August 1999, 0 571 20051 6
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... suggested by the triangle of muddy green flannel shirt above it is counteracted by his muddy brown tie. He even has a gun, properly broken, in the crook of his arm. Tony’s invitation is not just friendliness, of course, a bit of that country hospitality which makes people rush round to greet you after you’ve been there a few years. He has a few ...


August Kleinzahler: My Last Big Road Trip

2 December 2010
... each night, Back in Nagasaki where the fellows chew tobaccy, And the women wicky-wacky woo! And Laura Nyro. ‘I know her. I forget her name. She’s dead, right?’ ‘You don’t know shit,’ the Maestro snarled. He was rendering me a service that, nowadays, in the absence of my mother and father, a number of my close friends feel obliged to ...


Emily Witt: Rachel Kushner

2 August 2018
The Mars Room 
by Rachel Kushner.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 910702 67 3
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... a self-described ‘prunaholic and a horndog’. (Prison wine is called ‘pruno’.) There is Laura Lipp, the only other white woman in the unit besides Romy, a loopy committer of infanticide who compares herself to Medea. Sammy Fernandez, Romy’s closest friend, is the child of an addict and has spent a lifetime in and out of institutions, beginning ...

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