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Born Again

Phillip Whitehead, 19 February 1981

Face the future 
by David Owen.
Cape, 552 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 224 01956 2
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... dissected by Ken Coates, and treated like a first-year undergraduate’s essay by Professor Peter Townsend. With his publishers bringing its publication forward to catch the crisis, the book might look like a hastily-written manifesto for the alliance of born-again social democrats and ancient political re-treads among whom he may be doomed to ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... of the announcement: ‘I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend.’ For the older generation, Princess Margaret was the unlucky princess. She was our Diana: capricious, passionate, vindictive, doomed to fall in love with rotters, the breakaway royal who hung out with actors and rogues and who was frozen ...

Post-Bourgeois Man

Peter Jenkins, 1 October 1981

Arguments for Democracy 
by Tony Benn, edited by Chris Mullin.
Cape, 257 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 224 01878 7
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Manifesto 
by Francis Cripps, John Griffith, Frances Morrell, Jimmy Reid and Peter Townsend.
Pan, 224 pp., £1.95, September 1981, 0 330 26402 8
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... He has come a long way. Born the Hon. Anthony Wedgwood Benn, he inevitably became by public-school nickname ‘Wedgie’ and later, by his own socialist deed-poll, plain ‘Tony Benn’. Today he is more often referred to simply as Benn – a hard word spat out like ‘Lenin’. Benn puzzles and alarms people because he is at the same time frightfully English and frighteningly un-English ...

Diary

Andrew Brighton: On Peter Fuller, 7 November 1991

... of Oxbridge voices reviewing an exhibition selected by and posthumously mounted as a tribute to Peter Fuller. The wannabe Oxbridge voice of Giles Auty, art bumbler for the Spectator, declares ‘Peter’ was led by his arguments rather than his eyes. Up speaks real Oxbridge voice, while duly patronising to Auty – not ...

The Last Intellectual

Rosemary Hill: The Queen Mother’s Letters, 6 December 2012

Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother 
edited by William Shawcross.
Macmillan, 666 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 230 75496 6
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... air’. The various ‘horrid problems’ of Princess Margaret, her love affair with the divorced Peter Townsend, and her perceived reluctance to undertake royal duties, could be similarly teased away. From a sweltering hot Uganda the queen mother wrote to her younger daughter that every dignitary ‘looked gravely at my flushed & streaming face, & my ...

Breeding

Frank Kermode, 21 July 1994

The Diaries of Sylvia Townsend Warner 
edited by Claire Harman.
Chatto, 384 pp., £25, June 1994, 0 7011 3659 6
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Sylvia and David: The Townsend Warner/Garnett Letters 
Sinclair-Stevenson, 246 pp., £20, June 1994, 1 85619 341 1Show More
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... Sylvia Townsend Warner died in 1978, aged 84. Her first novel, Lolly Willowes, appeared in 1926, and none of her later works quite matched its success. In her later years she was probably better known to most people as a name that appeared under rather than above story after story in the New Yorker; that journal published about fifty over a period of some forty years ...

Something for Theresa May to think about

John Barrell: The Bow Street Runners, 7 June 2012

The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840 
by J.M. Beattie.
Oxford, 272 pp., £65, February 2012, 978 0 19 969516 4
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... that felons could no longer be shipped to America, more and more of them had to be hanged. John Townsend, taken on as a runner at this time, later looked back nostalgically to this time, when ‘we never had an execution wherein we did not grace that unfortunate gibbet with ten, twelve, thirteen, sixteen and twenty’ criminals, ‘and forty I once ...

At the New Whitechapel

Peter Campbell: Isa Genzken, 30 April 2009

... High Street’s strongest and most interesting frontage. The architect, Charles Harrison Townsend, designed similar heavily moulded round-arched entrances for the Bishopsgate Institute and the Horniman Museum. The spaces inside were much less emphatic – almost industrial in their plainness. Discreetly elegant improvements in 1988 and the new ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Samuel Palmer’s dream landscapes, 17 November 2005

... to it are the slightly spooky depths of rural England evoked by novelists like T.F. Powys, Sylvia Townsend Warner and David ...

The Method of Drifting

Ian Patterson: John Craske, 9 September 2015

Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske 
by Julia Blackburn.
Cape, 344 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 224 09776 5
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... Gilbert White, sea fishing, the Elephant Man, Edwardian Sheringham, Valentine Ackland and Sylvia Townsend Warner, embroidery technique, Edward Meyerstein, Walt Disney, the Norfolk Giant, the pituitary gland, diabetes, MI5, and Einstein, who stayed at a (not very) ‘secret location’ on Roughton Heath, near Cromer, for some weeks in 1933. In each case, the ...

The Case for Geoffrey Hill

Tom Paulin, 4 April 1985

Geoffrey Hill: Essays on his Work 
edited by Peter Robinson.
Open University, 259 pp., £18, March 1985, 0 335 10588 2
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... suffer the punishment due to their folly.’ From this fable a Victorian cleric, the Rev. G.F. Townsend, draws the moral: ‘Resist not, for slight reasons, constituted authorities.’ And he adds that Aesop’s fable ‘inculcates lessons of loyalty, and fosters that spirit of obedience so dear to the hearts of Englishmen’. ...

On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis, 24 May 2018

... included leading figures from the Independent Group, such as Eduardo Paolozzi and the architects Peter and Alison Smithson, who displayed a series of found objects in a post-apocalyptic mirrored shed. Richard Hamilton’s group presented a funfair vision that launched the British Pop Art movement. Robby the Robot, star of the science-fiction movie Forbidden ...

What happened to the Labour Party?

W.G. Runciman: The difference between then and now, 22 June 2006

... who have chosen to make no provision for more than the state will in due course provide. To Peter Townsend, the best-known of the researchers who rediscovered poverty in the 1960s, it was axiomatic that poverty should be defined in relative terms: to be poor is to be significantly less well-off than the average, and as Adam Smith himself had ...

Saint or Snake

Stefan Collini: Ann Oakley on Richard Titmuss, 7 October 2015

Father and Daughter: Patriarchy, Gender and Social Science 
by Ann Oakley.
Policy, 290 pp., £13.99, November 2014, 978 1 4473 1810 1
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... work resonated with sympathetic policymakers. He and his associates, such as Brian Abel-Smith and Peter Townsend, had particularly intimate connections with the Wilson governments of the 1960s, but their reach was not confined to Britain. They were consulted by more than one broadly progressive foreign government. Much of the social policy of Mauritius ...

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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... press, but the press talked about her, and after her scandalous romance with the divorced Captain Peter Townsend they talked in ever less respectful terms. She was cast as the id of the Windsors, beside her twinkling mother and impeccably dutiful sister. Margaret moved with the ‘fast’ set, drank, smoked and sometimes looked bored at official ...

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