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Put it in your suitcase

Nicholas Penny: Sotheby’s, 18 March 1999

Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class 
by Robert Lacey.
Little, Brown, 354 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 316 64447 1
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Sotheby’s: Inside Story 
by Peter Watson.
Bloomsbury, 325 pp., £7.99, May 1998, 0 7475 3808 5
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... bits of the ‘brilliantly flawed lifetimes’, as he puts it, of the dreadful Duke and Duchess. Peter Watson’s Sotheby’s: Inside Story is also related to a television programme – one that appeared the year before, in 1997. Here the auction house was accused of conniving in the sale of illegally excavated and exported antiquities and of organising ...

Who is Lucian Freud?

Rosemary Hill: John Craxton goes to Crete, 21 October 2021

John Craxton: A Life of Gifts 
by Ian Collins.
Yale, 383 pp., £25, May, 978 0 300 25529 4
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... and learned to draw, and through another of the floating population at his parents’ home met Peter Watson. In Watson, the heir to the Maypole Dairy Company fortune, and founder with Cyril Connolly and Stephen Spender of Horizon, Craxton found a friend, an indulgent patron and a way into the avant-garde. He had a ...
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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... the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly turned out to be Connolly not producing the masterpieces which ...

Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’, 19 December 2019

Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... to Ian)? Was Barbara Skelton having an affair with the Polish war artist Feliks Topolski when Peter Quennell came onto the scene, still married to his third wife, Glur, but making Topolski so jealous that the men resorted to fisticuffs over Barbara? What made Janetta, still married to Hugh Slater, fall in love with Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, and would that ...

You could scream

Jenny Diski, 20 October 1994

Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me 
by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey.
Century, 468 pp., £17.99, September 1994, 0 7126 6012 7
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Greta & Cecil 
by Diana Souhami.
Cape, 272 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 224 03719 6
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... no ordinary, daily life going on. Beaton languished for four years after the wealthy art patron Peter Watson, who was kind enough to him but emotionally committed to Beaton’s rival, Oliver Messel. For a while Stephen Tennant looked like a possibility, but no one fell in love with Beaton, though he hankered and ached. When he turned his attentions to ...

Falling in love with Lucian

Colm Tóibín: Lucian Freud’s Outer Being, 10 October 2019

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, 1922-68 
by William Feaver.
Bloomsbury, 680 pp., £35, September 2019, 978 1 4088 5093 0
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... later, Freud cut the Spender poems out of the book, ‘deeming them superfluous’.) Peter Watson, who funded Horizon, also began to enjoy Freud’s company. ‘He helped me very much, looked at my pictures and bought things and gave me money and books,’ Freud said. ‘He had pictures that I liked and learned from, very good things … He ...

Heart-Stopping

Ian Hamilton, 25 January 1996

Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... Captain’s Log (‘with Graham Clark’) and Blue Grit by Glasgow Rangers’ John Brown (‘with Peter Watson’). Would Brown reveal some juicy Gazza tales or give us the dirt on Graeme Souness? Not a chance. Gascoigne is not mentioned (perhaps he arrived too late) and as for Souness: ‘I haven’t got a bad word to say about Graeme. I don’t know if ...

Vermin Correspondence

Iain Sinclair, 20 October 1994

Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... to Lunch is himself the classic double agent, the turned man. He has a public persona as ‘Ben Watson’ (apologist for his nocturnal self, the crazed poet), columnist for the Wire, broadcaster, and author of the monumental and magnificent folly, Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play. Watson, if he wanted ...

Likeable People

John Sutherland, 15 May 1980

Book Society 
by Graham Watson.
Deutsch, 164 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 233 97160 2
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The Publishers Association Annual Report 1979-80 
73 pp.Show More
Private Presses and Publishing in England since 1945 
by H.E. Bellamy.
Clive Bingley, 168 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 85157 297 9
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... agency – The Author’s Empty Purse, published in l968 – with the same quotation that Graham Watson uses to conclude his reminiscences of a lifetime spent in the profession: This is the age of the middleman. He is generally a parasite. He always flourishes. I have been forced to give him some little attention lately in my particular business. In it he ...

Honey and Water

Michael Irwin, 7 August 1980

The Beekeepers 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 156 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 7100 0473 7
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F for Ferg 
by Ian Cochrane.
Gollancz, 117 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 575 02862 9
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Events Beyond the Heartlands 
by Robert Watson.
Heinemann, 241 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 0 434 84200 1
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... In the first chapter of Peter Redgrove’s novel we are introduced to a poet named Guy, who is about to read aloud some poems he has written about bees. He breaks off a meandering introduction to tell his audience: I can see you saying, ‘Why doesn’t he keep to the point?’ But not keeping to it, is the point ...

Great Tradition

Robert Barnard, 18 December 1980

Plaster Sinners 
by Colin Watson.
Eyre Methuen, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 39040 3
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Photo-Finish 
by Ngaio Marsh.
Collins, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 00 231857 1
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The Predator 
by Russell Braddon.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1958 4
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... of the latest Flaxborough murder. It’s a piece of miscalculated self-consciousness on Colin Watson’s part – almost the only miscalculation in the book. The Flaxborough Chronicles embody a great many of the virtues that make the golden-age detective story still one of the most widely read literary forms. They have their share of cosiness, with menace ...

Unmaking mysteries

Mark Ridley, 1 September 1983

Pluto’s Republic 
by Peter Medawar.
Oxford, 351 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 1 921777 26 5
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... Sir Peter Medawar is the most distinguished biologist in Britain today. His work on immunology during the 1950s is the inspiration of all modern transplantation surgery, and was judged worthy of a Nobel Prize. In addition to his technical work, he also writes and lectures on science to a broader audience, and with more grace and wit than any one else who has tried his skill in that field ...

Ideologues

Peter Pulzer, 20 February 1986

The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New Left 
by Roger Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea of Liberalism: Studies for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... intervention. But the flexibility of liberalism is also its strength. It is, as George Watson argues, a way of making choices, something that is not possible in either Marxist or Hegelian utopias. It prescribes a set of institutions, a framework for action to ensure what Rawls calls ‘justice as regularity’. But there is one respect, as ...

Diary

Audrey Gillan: The drubbing of Mohammad Sarwar, 22 January 1998

... wasn’t the only one to have his eye on the seat which had been vacated by the sitting MP. Mike Watson, the Labour MP for Glasgow Central, was about to have his seat taken away as a result of a boundary rejig: he pretty much saw Govan as his by right. The two men battled it out and soon there were allegations of dirty tricks and intimidation. ...

Occupation: Novelist

Christopher Beha: Peter Matthiessen, 31 July 2014

In Paradise 
by Peter Matthiessen.
Oneworld, 246 pp., £12.99, April 2014, 978 1 78074 555 8
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... I was so angry​ ,’ Peter Matthiessen said late in his life of his early days as a writer. ‘I was constantly in a contest … with my father.’ He’d grown up rich in Connecticut and New York, attended Yale, but found himself in ‘combat with the world’ for reasons he couldn’t understand; his early novels reflect this ...

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