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Full of Teeth

Patricia Beer

20 July 1995
The Life of Graham Greene. Vol. II: 1939-55 
by Norman Sherry.
Cape, 562 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 224 02772 7
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Graham Greene: Three Lives 
by Anthony Mockler.
Hunter Mackay, 256 pp., £14.95, July 1994, 0 947907 01 7
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Graham Greene: Friend and Brother 
by Leopoldo Duran.
HarperCollins, 352 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 00 627660 1
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Graham Greene: The Man Within 
by Michael Shelden.
Minerva, 567 pp., £5.99, June 1995, 0 7493 1997 6
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... through the four, totally diverse, biographies of Graham Greene which originally appeared in the summer and autumn of last year. The biographers are Norman Sherry, Anthony Mockler, Leopoldo Duran and MichaelShelden. The actual information they provide must by now be common knowledge among those who are at all interested in Greene, including those who have simply read the many highly communicative ...

Art and Men

Michael Shelden

5 December 1991
Bachelors of Art: Edward Perry Warren and the Lewes House Brotherhood 
by David Sox.
Fourth Estate, 296 pp., £18.99, September 1991, 1 872180 11 6
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... Rich and eccentric, Edward Perry Warren was used to indulging his whims. After seeing Rodin’s The Kiss in 1900, he was determined to have a replica carved by the sculptor himself. It was to be exact in every respect except one. He asked Rodin to provide a full view of the nude man’s genitals. Four years later the piece was completed and delivered to its new owner. But Warren was disappointed. As ...
2 March 1989
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... black liquid reaches of National Sept, the plane trees going sha-sha-sha through the open windows’. The writing is genuinely alive with what Connolly called ‘erotic nostalgia’. Both Powell and MichaelShelden emphasise his capacity for self-inspection, elevated to a comic art, on the subject of his own tastes and weaknesses (‘MESSAGE FROM THE ID: “If you would collect women instead of books I ...

Don’t think about it

Jenny Diski: The Trouble with Sonia Orwell

25 April 2002
The Girl from the Fiction Department: A Portrait of Sonia Orwell 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 208 pp., £9.99, May 2002, 0 241 14165 6
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... to her biographer, ‘Sonia never forgot the terrible embrace of a convulsive male body stronger than her own, and its even more terrible consequences.’ Clearly, a dreadful experience. But MichaelShelden, George Orwell’s biographer and in Spurling’s view one of those responsible for disparaging Sonia, has a slightly different take on the event. Interviewing her sister and half-brother, he claims ...


Frank Kermode

24 October 1991
Orwell: The Authorised Biography 
by Michael Shelden.
Heinemann, 563 pp., £18.50, October 1991, 0 434 69517 3
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... lawyers good enough to ensure that he was able to publish it anyway, quotations and all. Crick traced many documents and interviewed dozens of helpful people, many of them now dead. But the assiduous MichaelShelden has found lots more paper, and interviewed not only the survivors on Crick’s list but others whom his predecessor did not come upon. His book is as long as Crick’s and inevitably repeats ...

Eric the Nerd

Ian Hamilton: The Utterly Complete Orwell

29 October 1998
The Complete Works of George Orwell 
edited by Peter Davidson.
Secker, £750, July 1998, 0 436 20377 4
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... Burma, Wigan, Spain and so on. Thanks to the Eileen letters, we know more than we did about his first marriage – well, more about Eileen – but the relationship is still something of a puzzle. MichaelShelden, in his 1991 biography, had various theories and was confident that both Eileen and Orwell had extra-marital affairs – she more than he, perhaps. And Orwell, in a letter published here in ...

Speaking British

Thomas Jones

30 March 2000
The Third Woman 
by William Cash.
Little, Brown, 318 pp., £14.99, February 2000, 0 316 85405 0
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Greene on Capri: A Memoir 
by Shirley Hazzard.
Virago, 149 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 1 86049 799 3
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... from the dust of the bomb-blast. The shot is well framed – Roger Pratt deserves his Oscar nomination for cinematography – and the scene is much the most powerful in the film. It almost makes Michael Nyman’s hyperbolic score (the music in Planet of the Apes is subtle by comparison) tolerable. In all such scenes of epiphany (Charlton Heston breaking down at the sight of the half-buried Statue of ...

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