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Ngaio Marsh: A Life 
by Margaret Lewis.
Chatto, 276 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 7011 3389 9
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... Marsh reigns supreme for excellence of style and characterisation,’ writes Margaret Lewis in her introduction. The proposition could be contested; it could be maintained that Christie is more ingenious, Allingham more lively and Sayers has more intellectual weight. But Margaret Lewis’s ...

A Peece of Christ

Charles Hope: Did Leonardo paint it?, 2 January 2020

Leonardo da Vinci 
at the Louvre, until 24 February 2020Show More
Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered 
by Carmen Bambach.
Yale, 2350 pp., £400, July 2019, 978 0 300 19195 0
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The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting 
by Ben Lewis.
William Collins, 396 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 00 831341 8
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Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts 
by Margaret Dalivalle, Martin Kemp and Robert Simon.
Oxford, 383 pp., £35, November 2019, 978 0 19 881383 5
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... merit, acquired its astonishing price tag in only 12 years is told in absorbing detail by Ben Lewis. The key moment in this history of the painting was its inclusion in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan held at the National Gallery in late 2011. There was no reference to it in the gallery’s main press releases in May ...

Studied Luxury

Margaret Anne Doody, 20 April 1995

No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton 
by Shari Benstock.
Hamish Hamilton, 546 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 241 13298 3
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Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life 
by Eleanor Dwight.
Harry Adams, 335 pp., $39.95, May 1994, 0 8109 3971 1
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... any reader of Benstock’s biography, or even of the clearer and more detailed biography of R.W.B. Lewis. Fullerton was the lover of several women (and some men). He constantly complained about being blackmailed by one of his ladies, Henrietta de Mirecourt, without being able to pay her off, close her mouth, or break from her. The blackmail story, which ...

Last Man of Letters

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1983

The Forties: From the Notebooks and Diaries of the Period 
by Edmund Wilson, edited and introduced by Leon Edel.
Macmillan, 369 pp., £14.95, August 1983, 0 333 21212 6
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The Portable Edmund Wilson 
edited by Lewis Dabney.
Penguin, 647 pp., £3.95, May 1983, 0 14 015098 6
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To the Finland Station 
by Edmund Wilson.
Macmillan, 487 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 333 35143 6
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... Lewis Dabney, editor of the Portable Edmund Wilson, makes the slightly surprising claim that Wilson’s ‘reputation continues to grow’. I had supposed that it was, at least temporarily, in abeyance, and for reasons that Wilson would have easily understood. Mr Dabney remarks that Wilson’s work ‘reminds students of literature and history of their heritage from a time when these were the joint concerns of educated men rather than separated fields in the academy ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode, 6 June 1985

The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... updated in three subsequent editions and many reprints. It has now been extensively re-edited by Margaret Drabble, aided by an impressive list of experts. The original editor, Sir Paul Harvey, explained that his intention was to be useful to ordinary everyday readers. He offered the dates and brief biographies of a large number of English authors, listed the ...

Landlord of the Moon

David Craig: Scottish islands, 21 February 2002

Sea Room: An Island Life 
by Adam Nicolson.
HarperCollins, 391 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 00 257164 1
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... writing warmly about a book by a Scottish laird. Adam Nicolson owns the Shiant Islands, east of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The Shiants are a compact cluster and, like all small islands, offer the marvellous sense that you can encompass them, you can easily walk or sail round them and get to know each rock-face or sand-bar, each vein of water or peat-hagg ...

Words washed clean

David Trotter, 5 December 1991

From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature 
by Richard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury.
Routledge, 381 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 415 01341 0
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... When Wyndham Lewis described the Men of 1914 as a ‘youth racket’ invented by Ezra Pound, he presumably didn’t mean to be complimentary. Pound, however, might be said to have had the last laugh, since it is now customary to regard the whole of American literature as a gigantic youth racket. The paradigm of Modernism, of programmatic innovation and reflexivity, has been applied to earlier and earlier writing, until there is little left that doesn’t speak, somehow, of self-renewal ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... pursuit of her subject; and the story of a biographer’s treatment of his researcher. In R.W.B. Lewis’s acclaimed and prize-winning biography of Edith Wharton, published in 1975, he describes having first heard the name Morton Fullerton when he started work on his book in 1967, and being told that this Fullerton, an American journalist in Paris, had ...

Dying Falls

John Lanchester, 23 July 1987

Temporary Shelter 
by Mary Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 231 pp., £11.95, July 1987, 0 7475 0006 1
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Bluebeard’s Egg 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 287 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 224 02245 8
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The Native 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 122 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3247 7
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The March of the Long Shadows 
by Norman Lewis.
Secker, 232 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 436 24620 1
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... passionately committed to the most private and hidden areas of human life. (One of the stories in Margaret Atwood’s new collection treats very similar imaginings of nuclear war, and we learn in an aside that the central male character of David Plante’s new novel works on a science project related to Star Wars. A lot of writing in the last few years ...

Upper-Class Contemplative

John Bayley, 7 February 1985

The Fountain 
by Charles Morgan.
Boydell, 434 pp., £4.95, November 1984, 0 85115 237 6
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... perhaps, is a capacity to have their cake and eat it, and to give their readers the same treat. In Margaret Kennedy’s novel the constant nymph is both satisfyingly bohemian and reassuringly respectable – a combination appealing to the period. She is constant because she dies, and virtuous because she dies a virgin, thus releasing her paramour (and the ...

Lost Mother

Michael Dobson, 17 February 2000

In My End Is My Beginning: A Life of Mary Queen of Scots 
by James Mackay.
Mainstream, 320 pp., £20, March 1999, 1 84018 058 7
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Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation 
by Jayne Elizabeth Lewis.
Routledge, 259 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 0 415 11481 0
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Ancestry and Narrative in 19th-Century British Literature: Blood Relations from Edgeworth to Hardy 
by Sophie Gilmartin.
Cambridge, 281 pp., £37.50, February 1999, 0 521 56094 2
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... pantheon’s victory procession. It is this haunting which is the principal subject of Jayne Lewis’s splendid exercise in cultural history, Mary Queen of Scots: Romance and Nation. Although her book sets out to consider the representation of Mary from her own lifetime until the end of the Victorian age, it doesn’t really get into its stride ...

Sisters

John Sutherland, 4 June 1981

Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... Towers. As it happens, Maggie Muggins is also a private name: Social Security know her as Margaret Moon. There are two main events to Maggie’s day. She discovers that her queer playmate, Sean, has thrown himself under a train. He is, in the odd terminology of the LT billboard, ‘a body on the line’. And her father comes down from the North to ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... In the dismal mid-Seventies Patrick Cosgrave, later to be Margaret Thatcher’s adviser and biographer, took me to a Friday luncheon at the old Bertorelli’s in Charlotte Street. Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis, Bernard Levin, Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, Russell Lewis and assorted others, and calling itself with heavy and definite self-mockery ‘Bertorelli’s Blackshirts ...

Good Things: Pederasty and Jazz and Opium and Research

Lawrence Rainey: Mary Butts, 16 July 1998

Mary Butts: Scenes from the Life 
by Nathalie Blondel.
McPherson, 539 pp., £22.50, February 1998, 0 929701 55 0
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The Taverner Novels: ‘Armed with Madness’, ‘Death of Felicity Taverner’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 18 6
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The Classical Novels: ‘The Macedonian’, ‘Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra’ 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 384 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 929701 42 9
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‘Ashe of Rings’ and Other Writings 
by Mary Butts.
McPherson, 374 pp., £18.50, March 1998, 0 929701 53 4
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... for his activities as a publisher of deluxe editions: a portfolio of Fifteen Drawings by Wyndham Lewis (1919), Ara Vos Prec by Eliot (1920), and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and Cantos 17-27 by Pound (1927). The son of immigrant Jews in the East End, he was a conscientious objector when he met Butts, who was working for an anti-conscription ...

‘I can’t go on like this’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 19 January 1989

The Letters of Edith Wharton 
edited by R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis.
Simon and Schuster, 654 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 671 69965 2
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Women Artists, Women Exiles: ‘Miss Grief’ and Other Stories 
by Constance Fenimore Woolson, edited by Joan Myers Weimer.
Rutgers, 341 pp., $42, December 1988, 0 8135 1347 2
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... affair in middle age finally alters the impression of her essential solitude. When R.W.B. Lewis published his biography of the novelist in 1975, its revelations about her adulterous affair with the American journalist, Morton Fullerton, inevitably attracted much attention: especially when combined with the printing of ‘Beatrice Palmato’, a ...

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