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God, what a victory!

Jeremy Harding, 10 February 1994

Martyr’s Day: Chronicle of Small War 
by Michael Kelly.
Macmillan, 354 pp., £16.99, October 1993, 0 333 60496 2
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Battling for News: The Rise of the Woman Reporter 
by Anne Sebba.
Hodder, 301 pp., £19.99, January 1994, 0 340 55599 8
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Women’s Letters in Wartime 
edited by Eva Figes.
Pandora, 304 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 04 440755 6
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The War at Sixteen: Autobiography, Vol. II 
by Julien Green, translated by Euan Cameron.
Marion Boyars, 207 pp., £19.95, November 1993, 0 7145 2969 9
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... Michael Kelly has produced a vivid, responsible account of his own itinerary, as a contributor to New Republic, the Boston Globe and the New York Times, through the Gulf War: from Baghdad to Amman; on to Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia; into Kuwait and back into Iraq, via Basra; thence to Kurdistan. There are few sops to terrible beauty, whatever Kelly’s dust-jacket champions may say, and no excessive enthusiasm for the darker side of his material, either in the abandoned Iraqi torture chambers of Kuwait City or on the road to Basra ...

How good was he?

Iain Fenlon: Antonio Salieri, 6 July 2000

Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera 
by John Rice.
Chicago, 648 pp., £66.50, April 1999, 0 226 71125 0
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... Monteverdi and the opening of the first public opera houses in Venice in the 1630s. Writing about Michael Kelly, a minor Irish composer and singer who was also an importer of wines, Sheridan suggested that his shop sign should read ‘composer of wines and importer of music’. Notions of the composer’s inviolable authority belong to later ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... Nominations have included George Stephanopolous, James Carville, Paul Begala, the New Yorker’s Michael Kelly and Sidney Blumenthal, the screen-writer Erik Tarloff and New York political consultant Bob Shrum. New York magazine hired the Shakespeare scholar Donald Foster to run a computerised check of the text of the novel against several possible ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... is to chronicle the career of the Kembles, brother and sister (the later dynasty is outside Linda Kelly’s scope). However, as the subtitle hints, it is also, in some indeterminate degree, a study of theatrical life in the period. It could also be described as group biography, since the principals have to share top billing with Mrs Inchbald, Sheridan, Thomas ...
A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Granta, 516 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 86207 026 1
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan: A Life 
by Linda Kelly.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 366 pp., £25, April 1997, 1 85619 207 5
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Sheridan’s Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley 
by Alan Chedzoy.
Allison and Busby, 322 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 7490 0264 6
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... composed exploration of Sheridan’s career’. His biography comes hard on the heels of Linda Kelly’s, and it would be comforting to report that O’Toole’s was the rehash, but the Granta puff has it the right way round, while Alan Chedzoy’s life of the first Mrs Sheridan (the noted soprano and beauty Elizabeth Linley) is more boisterously ...

Who was he?

Charles Nicholl: Joe the Ripper, 7 February 2008

The Fox and the Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath 
by Charles van Onselen.
Cape, 672 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 224 07929 7
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... They found Mary Jane Kelly lying on her bed, in the dingy room she rented in Miller’s Court, off Dorset Street in Spitalfields. She was about 25 years old, a colleen from County Limerick, ‘possessed of considerable attractions’. Widowed young, she had turned, like thousands of others in late Victorian London, to prostitution ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Artist’, 9 February 2012

The Artist 
directed by Michel Hazanavicius.
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... well on screen and bring himself to believe in the talkies. He is a sort of unlucky twin of Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain, who cheerily makes the change this man can’t manage. At the end of the film, when he does briefly talk, Valentin reveals that he has a French accent. Was that the problem? It hasn’t been raised before, but perhaps it was part ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘La La Land’, 19 January 2017

La La Land 
directed by Damien Chazelle.
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... Gotta dance,’​ Gene Kelly shouts towards the end of a famous Hollywood movie. He’s right, he doesn’t have any option, he’s in a musical, and he’s been dancing (and singing) since the film started. But that’s not what the words mean for his character. They mean that dancing is his dream and his destiny, he will be nobody if he doesn’t dance ...

Subjects or Aliens?

Matthew Kelly: Postwar Irish Migration, 9 October 2008

The Irish in Postwar Britain 
by Enda Delaney.
Oxford, 232 pp., £55, September 2007, 978 0 19 927667 7
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... her flat so she could watch Neil Jordan’s biopic about the nationalist politician and guerrilla Michael Collins. In the closing sequence, Collins’s fiancée, Kitty, buys her wedding dress, Michael is assassinated by anti-Treatyites in the wilds of County Cork, and Sinead O’Connor sings ‘She Moves through the ...

Hybrid Heroes

Janette Turner Hospital, 12 December 1996

The Conversations at Curlow Creek 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 214 pp., £14.99, September 1996, 0 7011 6571 5
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... coastal range. Between sleeping and dreaming, the men talk intermittently until dawn. One of them, Michael Adair, is an officer in the penal colony’s regimental corps, and has just spent 48 hours in the saddle, riding up from the coast at the express orders of the Governor of New South Wales in order to oversee the hanging of the other man at dawn. The ...

Nate of the Station

Nick Richardson: Jonathan Coe, 3 March 2016

Number 11 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 351 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 670 92379 3
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... On 18 July​ 2003, the body of the weapons inspector David Kelly was found in the woods on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire, two months after he’d revealed that the Blair administration had exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Rachel Wells, the central character in Number 11 and the narrator of the first of its five overlapping stories, was ten when Kelly’s body was discovered ...

Wrong Again

Bruce Cumings: Korean War Games, 4 December 2003

... compared to the exaggerations of the Bush Administration and its emissary to Pyongyang, James Kelly. Coming into office when the CIA’s ‘one or two devices’ estimate was nearly a decade old, Bush contrived to hype the threat, while at the same time downplaying the idea that its size made a difference: the North might have two or six or eight atomic ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... plain wrong. The Sunday Times, for example, was demonstrably mistaken when it announced that Gerry Kelly, one of Sinn Fein’s chief negotiators at Stormont, is a highly placed IRA man who is not even a member of the Party. Kelly, who was sentenced to life imprisonment after the 1973 Old Bailey bombing, may or may not be a ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... were removed from the scene. Finally, on 9 November, the Whitechapel murderer killed Mary Jane Kelly, who is treated by Curtis as the final victim. The murderer was almost certainly male and probably right-handed. He possessed either some anatomical training or enough education to study surgical textbooks. Even if one discounts the xenophobia of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘No Country for Old Men’, 21 February 2008

No Country for Old Men 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
January 2008
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... innocent. The plot ends in an accident too. After he has killed Moss’s wife (very well played by Kelly MacDonald), Chigurh’s truck is hit by a car full of joy-riding kids, and he gets his arm broken along with multiple other injuries. He borrows a shirt from two boys gawking at the accident, ties up his arm and limps off, no more to be seen. As you realise ...

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