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Love of His Life

Rosemarie Bodenheimer: Dickens

8 July 2010
Charles Dickens 
by Michael Slater.
Yale, 696 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 300 11207 8
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... of Charles Dickens’s birth falls on 7 February 2012, and Dickensians across the globe are stirring. Dickens, who held strong opinions about virtually everything, had his own view of such occasions. MichaelSlater notes his ‘embarrassment’ and ‘irritation’ at the Shakespeare tercentenary celebrations of 1864: always for Dickens the best way for a writer or any other artist to be remembered was ...

He ate peas with a knife

John Sutherland: Douglas Jerrold

3 April 2003
Douglas Jerrold: 1803-57 
by Michael Slater.
Duckworth, 340 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 7156 2824 0
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... The tenth and central chapter of MichaelSlater’s biography is entitled ‘Jerrold, Dickens, Thackeray’. This, as Slater reminds us (often), is the company his contemporaries expected Douglas Jerrold to keep. Some partisans might even have thought Slater right to put him first. Dickens and Thackeray were pall-bearers ...

His Friends Were Appalled

Deborah Friedell: Dickens

5 January 2012
The Life of Charles Dickens 
by John Forster.
Cambridge, 1480 pp., £70, December 2011, 978 1 108 03934 5
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Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist 
by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.
Harvard, 389 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 674 05003 7
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Charles Dickens: A Life 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 527 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 670 91767 9
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... University Press to mark Dickens’s bicentenary. John Sutherland has added them up: there have now been at least 90 biographies. Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens comes just two years after MichaelSlater’s excellent Charles Dickens, the first to benefit from the complete 12-volume British Academy Pilgrim Edition of Dickens’s letters and Slater’s own editions of Dickens’s journalism ...
21 April 1983
Elizabethan Popular Theatre: Plays in Performance 
by Michael​ Hattaway.
Routledge, 234 pp., £14.95, January 1983, 0 7100 9052 8
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Shakespeare the Director 
by Ann Pasternak Slater.
Harvester, 244 pp., £18.95, December 1982, 0 7108 0446 6
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... that, with careful research, Shakespeare’s theatre can be reconstituted in lath and plaster is almost irresistible, when everything essential to that theatre actually lies beyond archaeology. As Michael Hattaway reminds us in his eloquent new study of Elizabethan Popular Theatre, the Rose, the Curtain, the Globe and the rest did not define the drama that they housed. Far more important than the ...

Who gets to trip?

Mike Jay: Psychedelics

27 September 2018
How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics 
by Michael​ Pollan.
Allen Lane, 465 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 0 241 29422 2
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Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Changed Our Minds 
by Lauren Slater.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £20, February 2018, 978 0 316 37064 6
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... That such stories find favour in the attention economy reflects the success of the researchers and campaigners generating the stories. Early in his survey of ‘the new science of psychedelics’, Michael Pollan talks to Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), pioneers of therapeutic research into MDMA, LSD and ayahuasca, who is candid about his choice of the ...
20 July 1995
Pulp Fiction 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 198 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 571 17546 5
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Reservoir Dogs 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 113 pp., £7.99, November 1994, 0 571 17362 4
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True Romance 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 134 pp., £7.99, January 1995, 0 571 17593 7
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Natural Born Killers 
by Quentin Tarantino.
Faber, 175 pp., £7.99, July 1995, 0 571 17617 8
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... the name of an author than the name of an idea about the world, probably shared by many people below a certain age. We shall be lucky if most of them have such benevolent ideas. The hero, Christian Slater, is trying to set up a drug deal, and needs to make contact with the man who will take him to the man. Where are they to meet? He asks his wife, Patricia Arquette, and she says at the zoo in the ...
10 November 1994
Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... described. His operation is that of an investment bank which buys and sells companies as items in the balance sheet. Hanson’s hero in the early years of his and White’s journey to fortune was Jim Slater, described here as ‘the Master’, whose speciality was asset-stripping – buying up companies and selling off the assets. Slater’s career in the early Seventies, cheered on by almost all the ...

A Terrible Bad Cold

John Sutherland

27 September 1990
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 1195 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 1 85619 000 5
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... purity rather than hole-in-corner Victorian adultery is arresting. Ackroyd suggests that there was no straight sex, no intercourse, certainly no love child. This is not entirely new-fangled: MichaelSlater in Dickens and Women (1983) pointed to a number of glaring holes in the received view and argued for the possibility of an innocent relationship. What is novel (novelistic, perhaps) is Ackroyd’s ...


Richard Usborne: On Cutting P.G. Wodehouse

4 October 1984
... the shrubbery. For the Wodehouse archive he is assembling, Edward Cazalet, grandson of the 99-year-old widowed Lady Wodehouse, recently bought, for £175, a short ts. letter from Wodehouse to a Mr Slater, dated 2 July 1953. Mr Slater had asked Wodehouse where Market Blandings was, the station for the Castle, with Jno Robinson’s taxi waiting to rattle you up to the home of the Earls of Emsworth ...


Craig Raine: In Moscow

22 March 1990
... miss the inaugural ceremony at the Bolshoi theatre. Our timing was, in any case, touch and go. I am not heart-broken. I have attended several opening ceremonies. On the flight, my brother-in-law, MichaelSlater (Michael Pasternak, according to his ticket) is unable to read because the Aeroflot jumbo doesn’t have individual seat lights. He has the aisle seat – exiled to inner darkness. Speaking of ...


Paul Driver

19 August 1993
Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... stopped composing. The poet John Birtwhistle supplied David Blake with the libretto for his unusual opera, The Plumber’s Gift. David Malouf has devised a Kipling libretto, Baa Baa Black Sheep, for Michael Berkeley. Blake Morrison is, with the composer Gavin Bryars, engaged on an operatic version of Jules Verne’s story, ‘Dr Ox’s Experiment’. Gavin Ewart has provided saucy verses for Robin ...

Ante Antietam

Michael​ Irwin

24 January 1980
by Thomas Keneally.
Collins, 427 pp., £5.75, October 1980, 0 00 222141 1
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Just Above My Head 
by James Baldwin.
Joseph, 597 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1764 6
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Winter Doves 
by David Cook.
Secker, 213 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 436 10673 6
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All Girls Together 
by Paula Neuss.
Duckworth, 141 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 7156 1454 1
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... pupils and teachers named in a preliminary cast-list are neatly placed and related, and represent a fair range of temperaments and interests. The story is in outline a simple one: the heroine, Hetty Slater, goes through a period of bewilderment and unhappiness when an officious mistress forbids her the company of her best friend. But the author finds ample opportunity to revive lapsed memories of an ...

How confident should she be?

Richard Lloyd Parry: Aung San Suu Kyi

26 April 2012
The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi 
by Peter Popham.
Rider, 446 pp., £20, November 2011, 978 1 84604 248 5
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... passionate, idealistic, but determinedly and almost aggressively chaste in the face of new fashions in sexual liberation. Her college, St Hugh’s, was, in the words of her friend Ann Pasternak Slater, ‘a warren of nervous adolescent virgins and a few sexually liberated sophisticates’ with ‘an atmosphere airless and prickly as a hot railway compartment … Being laid back about being laid ...

Through Plate-Glass

Ian Sansom: Jonathan Coe

10 May 2001
The Rotters’ Club 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 405 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 670 89252 1
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... that in those days, the National Front sometimes looked like a force to be reckoned with.’ Coe does kitsch but he also does politics: The Rotters’ Club concerns itself with the Grunwick strike, Michael Edwardes and British Leyland, and the Birmingham pub bombing. Coe is only ever content with full context. His words can seem like a means to an end. They remind. They point things out. They are not ...
5 December 1991
Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... 46 years, a Member of Parliament for 30, a frontbencher for 26 and a cabinet minister for 15, in length of service he outdoes some contemporaries by decades. Before many people had heard of either Michael Heseltine or Geoffrey Howe, they were juniors to Cabinet mogul Walker, first at Environment and then at Trade and Industry. Walker still insists that Heath never deserved to lose, and believes Heath ...

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