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Into Thin Air

Marina Warner: Science at the Séances, 3 October 2002

The Invention of Telepathy 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Oxford, 334 pp., £35, June 2002, 0 19 924962 8
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... as well as those of others mentioned by Luckhurst, such as Arthur Machen, Vernon Lee and Grant Allen. The concept of telepathy continually threatened to collapse distinctions between the literal and the figural, and the psychological and the metaphysical. As Luckhurst remarks, Henry James ‘always ensures the screw will bite with a further turn, the ...

Pull as archer, in lbs

Mary Beard, 5 September 1996

Cambridge Women: Twelve Portraits 
edited by Edward Shils and Carmen Blacker.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 521 48344 1
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A Woman in History: Eileen Power 1889-1940 
by Maxine Berg.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £45, April 1996, 0 521 40278 6
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... of your seemingly healthy Girton and Newnham Girls break down utterly. So, according to Grant Allen, writing in the Pall Mall Gazette in the 1880s, higher education could damage your health. More to the point, it interfered physically (not just, that is, by opening up wider and more attractive horizons than motherhood) with a woman’s capacity to bear ...

Not in My House

Mark Ford: Flannery O’Connor, 23 July 2009

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor 
by Brad Gooch.
Little, Brown, 448 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 0 316 00066 6
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... like Gone with the Wind.”’ O’Connor’s Georgia could hardly be further from the Tara of Margaret Mitchell. O’Connor has much fun mocking elegant diction and manners, and the Southern obsession with bloodlines: ‘I know you’re a good man,’ the Grandmother tells the psychotic Misfit, who is on the run from the federal penitentiary, in ‘A Good ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre, 8 January 2015

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... Men. But their tenure was in jeopardy, because the owner of the land on which it stood, Giles Allen, was refusing to extend their lease, which was due to expire in April 1597. It was this imminent threat of eviction which brought Burbage to the Blackfriars in search of alternative accommodation for the company. He paid the owner of the former ...

In a Frozen Crouch

Colin Kidd: Democracy’s Ends, 13 September 2018

How Democracy Ends 
by David Runciman.
Profile, 249 pp., £14.99, May 2018, 978 1 78125 974 0
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Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth – And How to Fix It 
by Dambisa Moyo.
Little, Brown, 296 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 1 4087 1089 0
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How Democracies Die 
by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.
Viking, 311 pp., £16.99, January 2018, 978 0 241 31798 3
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Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy 
by William Galston.
Yale, 158 pp., £25, June 2018, 978 0 300 22892 2
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... miners’ confrontation with Ted Heath’s government. When Armstrong’s colleague Sir Douglas Allen, the permanent secretary at the Treasury, speculated openly about coming in to work and finding tanks drawn up on Horse Guards Parade, his colleagues couldn’t tell whether or not he was joking. Was the UK on the brink of a left-wing revolution or a ...

Staying Alive in the Ruins

Richard J. Evans: Plato to Nato, 22 April 2021

Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe after World War Two 
by Paul Betts.
Profile, 536 pp., £25, November 2020, 978 1 78816 109 1
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... century, and for some time afterwards, who hadn’t received a classical education. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher, a scientist, was a rare exception; far more typical is Boris Johnson, who likes to quote great chunks of Ancient Greek from memory.In his original and engrossing book, the Oxford historian Paul Betts, an American who experienced ‘Western ...

Who had the most fun?

David Bromwich: The Marx Brothers, 10 May 2001

Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Penguin, 480 pp., £7.99, April 2001, 0 14 029426 0
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The Essential Groucho 
by Groucho Marx, edited by Stefan Kanfer.
Penguin, 254 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 14 029425 2
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... afford it. You see, if we don’t rehearse, and if we don’t-a play, that runs into money. Margaret Dumont, most imperturbable of straight men, was the aristocratic foil to all the boys in Animal Crackers, and when the circus of Harpo reeled around her, or poked her with a stick, or got his foot caught in her sleeve, Dumont’s suffering was ...


Pat Rogers, 7 August 1986

Mothers of the Novel: One Hundred Good Women Writers before Jane Austen 
by Dale Spender.
Pandora, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 86358 081 5
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Scribbling Sisters 
by Dale Spender and Lynne Spender.
Camden Press, 188 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 948491 00 0
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A Woman of No Character: An Autobiography of Mrs Manley 
by Fidelis Morgan.
Faber, 176 pp., £9.95, June 1986, 0 571 13934 5
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by Fanny Burney.
Virago, 919 pp., £6.95, May 1986, 0 86068 775 9
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Millenium Hall 
by Sarah Scott.
Virago, 207 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86068 780 5
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by Susan Ferrier.
Virago, 513 pp., £4.50, February 1986, 0 86068 765 1
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by Maria Edgeworth.
Pandora, 434 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 074 2
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by Mary Brunton.
Pandora, 437 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 9780863580840
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The Female Quixote: The Adventures of Arabella 
by Charlotte Lennox.
Pandora, 423 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 86358 080 7
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... the beginnings of the epistolary novel in France or in England. Rightly observing that Walter Allen in The English Novel fails to trace the full lineage of fiction, she does not see how many of the male ancestors he omits with the women. Alive to the gaps in Ian Watt’s account as far as Aphra Behn et al are concerned, she seems oblivious of the fact ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... weird genealogies are disclosed. ‘Angus Wilson, the novelist, who bore a striking resemblance to Margaret Rutherford, the actress who originally played Miss Marple’, is present. Also namechecked are Patricia Hodge, Simon Russell Beale, Giles Gordon (once Moorcock’s literary agent), Andrea Dworkin and Iris Murdoch, who ‘sat smiling into the ...

The Cult of Celebrity

Jacqueline Rose, 20 August 1998

... with the Pemberton-Billing trial. (Pemberton-Billing was sued for libel by the actress Maud Allen for publishing an article suggesting that a large number of her audience at the opening of Oscar Wilde’s Salome were German spies. Lord Alfred Douglas used the occasion of the trial to accuse Wilde’s friend Robert Ross of being the ‘leader of all the ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... was great, but seemed neither so great nor so significant as the gap between both of them and Margaret Thatcher’s Tories, who came to power after Wilson withdrew his party’s support for Labour in Westminster. Scottish nationalism didn’t appear to be about the separation of Scotland from the UK so much as one aspect of a global struggle for ...

The poet steamed

Iain Sinclair: Tom Raworth, 19 August 2004

Collected Poems 
by Tom Raworth.
Carcanet, 576 pp., £16.95, February 2003, 1 85754 624 5
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Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth 
edited by Nate Dorward.
The Gig, 288 pp., £15, March 2003, 0 9685294 3 7
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... Prynne, Barry MacSweeney, Wendy Mulford, John James, with decent selections of Bill Griffiths, Allen Fisher, Douglas Oliver. And glimpses of many others, the reforgotten: John Temple, Anna Mendelssohn. It is a truth, unilaterally acknowledged (Cambridge and environs), that Raworth is the man, the only English poet the Americans read. They like, or liked in ...

On the Lower Slopes

Stefan Collini: Greene’s Luck, 5 August 2010

Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 580 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 224 07921 1
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... editor of the London Magazine. He has written well-received biographies of Cyril Connolly and Allen Lane, and has already published three volumes of autobiography, the last entitled Grub Street Irregular. Now he has written a book which is, the blurb tells us, ‘both a riveting exercise in group biography and a masterly account of English society in the ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... era which benefit from having such a clear-cut political situation and a ready-made villain – ‘Margaret Fucking Thatcher’ in Bill Nighy’s words – giving all three films the feeling of being a crusade while still being very funny. I’d like to have written any or all of them. As R. says, the 1980s was such a simple world and the villains so ...

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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... Tamara Karsavina; the photographer Berenice Abbott; modernist designer Eileen Gray; Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson, editors of the avant-garde literary magazine the Little Review; not to mention Colette, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Djuna Barnes, Romaine Brooks, Virginia Woolf, Janet Flanner, Vita Sackville-West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Ivy ...

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