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It’s Mummie

Jenny Diski, 16 December 1993

TheLittle Princesses 
by Marion Crawford, introduced by A.N. Wilson.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £14.99, November 1993, 0 7156 2497 0
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... It was not ever thus in England,’ says A.N. Wilson, stilting his prose in deference to the text he’s introducing. He’s speaking of the deluge of intimacies we can expect these days in the press about the Royal Family. The ‘mystique of kingship’, Wilson explains, was restored in the late Thirties by George VI and Elizabeth, who, even before they moved into Buckingham Palace, erected a wall of silence around the House of Windsor, as soundproof as the walls of all those castles they processed around ...

Not Enjoying Herself

Jenny Diski: Princess Margaret, 16 August 2007

Princess MargaretA Life Unravelled 
by Tim Heald.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £20, July 2007, 978 0 297 84820 2
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... if possible witty and talented, though we’ve had to settle for the former. While she was young, Margaret Rose was the apple of her father’s eye, enchanting to all who met her, talented, witty, artistic, they said – and then one day she was middle-aged, frumpy, snobbish, self-centred, a raddled old gin tippler and a bore. So much apparent ...
Modernity and Identity 
edited by Scott Lash and Jonathan Friedman.
Blackwell, 448 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 631 17585 7
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Fundamentalisms Observed 
edited by Martin Marty and Scott Appleby.
Chicago, 872 pp., $40, November 1991, 0 226 50877 3
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The Post-Modern and the Post-Industrial 
by Margaret Rose.
Cambridge, 317 pp., £35, July 1991, 0 521 40131 3
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Under God: Religion and American Politics 
by Garry Wills.
Simon and Schuster, 445 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 671 65705 4
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... it was seen in terms of the future rather than the past; as the architect Arthur Penty (quoted by Margaret Rose) observed in 1922, ‘Post-Industrialism connotes Medievalism.’ But theological modernists, like the English Catholic George Tyrrell, saw Medievalism as incompatible with modernity and banished it to the Middle Ages where it took on the ...

Unfair to gays

Simon Raven, 19 June 1980

The Homosexual as Hero in Contemporary Fiction 
by Stephen Adams.
Vision, 208 pp., £10.95, March 1980, 0 85478 204 4
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... and their heroes evade or challenge established values and customs. In novels by most heterosexuals, and by many homosexuals as well, there is a strong tendency to portray ‘queer’ men as evil seducers or else as capering clowns. ‘The homosexual hero’, on the other hand, since he is presented by authors sympathetic to homosexuality, makes ...

Saint Q

Alan Brien, 12 September 1991

Well, I forget the rest 
by Quentin Crewe.
Hutchinson, 278 pp., £17.99, September 1991, 0 09 174835 6
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... the most common question faced on home visits to the provinces would be ‘Have you met Princess Margaret ... yet?’ At Quentin’s we grew used to finding Koestler, Bernard Levin, Peter Sellers, Ken Tynan, Keith Richards – but none of these quite counted as in her league. As Quentin observes here, with a pretence of puzzlement, ‘even in supposedly ...

Dunbar’s Disappearance

Sally Mapstone: William Dunbar, 24 May 2001

The Poems of William Dunbar 
edited by Priscilla Bawcutt.
Association for Scottish Literary Studies, £70, May 1999, 0 948877 38 3
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... conducting the negotiations with Henry VII that led to the marriage two years later of Princess Margaret Tudor to James IV. ‘London thow art of Towynys A per se’, an anonymous poem, is said in one surviving manuscript copy to have been delivered at a dinner held by the Lord Mayor during the Christmas festivities that accompanied this visit, by ‘a ...

Let them cut grass

Linda Colley, 16 December 1993

The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... summed up in two of the book’s black and white photographs. At the top of a page we are shown Margaret, Denis and the Cabinet at the Carlton Club, celebrating her tenth anniversary as prime minister in 1989. She is the only woman present. And since the Carlton still does not allow women members, she had in fact to be made an honorary male member for the ...
Ngaio Marsh: A Life 
by Margaret Lewis.
Chatto, 276 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 7011 3389 9
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... L. Sayers – Ngaio 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 problem as a ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter, 22 September 1994

Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... American precursors as Carolyn Heilbrun’s Writing a Woman’s Life (1988) and Phyllis Rose’s Norton Anthology of Women’s Lives (1990). The writers of these books, along with the historians who contributed to The Challenge of Feminist Biography (1992), did indeed tackle dangerous issues, particularly in relation to the political and ...

Sweetie Pies

Jenny Diski, 23 May 1996

Below the Parapet: The Biography of Denis Thatcher 
by Carol Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 00 255605 7
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... circulatory system’. We are told he had a ‘bullying, despotic nature’ and my spirits quite rose with the possibility of a convergence between the Denis Thatcher story and Moby-Dick, but Thomas is as near as the Thatcher dynasty got to Captain Ahab. Though Thomas’s son, Jack, was a bit of a gambler, the dubious genes had exhausted themselves by the ...

Impossibility

Robert Crawford, 18 September 1997

... Where once she was noticed in a mullioned window, White lace cap rising, brooding over her table, Margaret Oliphant Wilson Oliphant Translates onto starfish and nacred shells Montalembert’s Monks of the West Still weary, awash with hackwork to support Dead Maggie, Marjorie, Tiddy and Cecco, Her water babies, breathing ectoplasm, She watches aqualungs glow ...

At Tate Liverpool

Peter Campbell: Gustav Klimt, 3 July 2008

... standing in frontal poses in which pubic hair is strongly accented. In some portraits – those of Rose von Rosthorn-Friedmann and Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein, for example (the first of these and a study for the second are in the exhibition Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design and Modern Life, until 31 August) – a hint of ...

Nothing goes without saying

Stanley Cavell, 6 January 1994

The Marx Brothers: ‘A Day at the Races’, ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘Duck Soup’ 
introduced by Karl French.
Faber, 261 pp., £8.99, November 1993, 0 571 16647 4
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... as hilarious as anyone else might think it that he should be found lovable. It does both him and Margaret Dumont an injustice not to see that he wins her love and is a faithful husband to it; he courts her as fervently as, and much more persistently than, he does any other woman – he amuses her, shocks her, tells her the truth, expresses contempt for the ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Renaissance Faces, 6 November 2008

... him are likely attributes of a poet), is surely of a real person. Hilliard’s Young Man among Roses is a portrait, we don’t know of whom, but it is such a perfect image of the wan lover that one has no desire to burden it with specifics. The full-length kings and queens – Titian’s Philip II of Spain, Antonis Mor’s Philip II, Joanna of Austria and ...

But You Married Him

Rosemary Hill: Princess Margaret and Lady Anne, 4 June 2020

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown 
by Anne Glenconner.
Hodder, 336 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 1 5293 5906 0
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... of many members of the royal family and was, for thirty years, a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret. Her memoir, however, is written in the shadow of The Crown, ‘the popular Netflix series’ in which she was played by Nancy Carroll with Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret. In the book’s prologue, she describes ...

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