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Diary

Ian Hamilton: I ♥ Concordances

22 August 1996
... know and time – are like (175), their (112), up (92) and down (75), which could I suppose be juggled into the beginnings of a sombre Larkin line. In his Preface to the Eliot book, co-editor PeterHolland says that it is not his task ‘to in dicate the potential uses of the concordance’. He does suggest, though, that concordances can have ‘a peculiar magic in their consequential ...

Salons

William Thomas

16 October 1980
Holland​ House 
by Leslie Mitchell.
Duckworth, 320 pp., £18, May 1980, 9780715611166
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Genius in the Drawing-Room 
edited by Peter​ Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 9780297777700
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... tend to lack the inclination to write, and there is no guarantee that the learned, who leave the largest tomes for posterity to ponder over, will not be heavy company. One of the great men of the Holland House circle was Macaulay: but Macaulay did not, apparently, converse. He overwhelmed his hearers with a tidal wave of learning which they were too stunned to check or divert. On the other hand, some ...

Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde

5 February 1998
The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter​ Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... Oscar wilde is one of literature’s most bankable brand-names. As the illustrations in Merlin Holland’s The Wilde Album demonstrate, this was as true in his fin de siècle as in ours. During Wilde’s lifetime, his celebrity was used to sell Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, Madame Fontaine’s ...

Be flippant

David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return

9 December 1999
1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... geometry: all the possible couple-combinations must be played out to demonstrate their incompleteness before the essentially triangular fullness of their relationship is presented to the audience. As PeterHolland points out in English Comedy (1994), such relationships are notoriously hard to bring into dramatic equilibrium, and Design for Living is perhaps the first play to hold the balance between ...

Women on top

David Underdown

14 September 1989
The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe 
by Rudolf Dekker and Lotte van de Pol.
Macmillan, 128 pp., £27.50, February 1989, 0 333 41252 4
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... sex as a set of relationships defined by the biological differences between men and women, rather than with gender, which involves the perception and social construction of those differences. And as Peter Burke points out in his foreword to this short but intriguing book, even historians of gender (and there are now a few of them around) have not made much of the subject of transvestism as it is ...
26 January 1995
Kenneth Tynan: Letters 
edited by Kathleen Tynan.
Weidenfeld, 669 pp., £22, November 1994, 0 297 81076 6
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... son Matthew. But it is Tynan’s school and university days that represent the golden age of his letter-writing career. The letters written during this period, particularly those to his friend Julian Holland, are lordly communiqués, full of cinéaste aperçus, literary pastiches, prancing fashion flashes – ‘I now carry a black silk umbrella with a red silk ribbon wound spirally round it’ – and ...

The Myth of 1940

Angus Calder

16 October 1980
Collar the lot! How Britain Interned and Expelled its Wartime Refugees 
by Peter​ Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Quartet, 334 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2244 7
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A Bespattered Page? The Internment of ‘His Majesty’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens’ 
by Ronald Stent.
Deutsch, 282 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 233 97246 3
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... On 16 May 1940, when the German Army had just overwhelmed Holland, police swooped to arrest 3,000 men born in the Reich but now living in Britain. Some were billeted in the offices of the Tote organisation. Queuing for lunch, one detainee saw an army officer ...

At the Museum of London

Peter​ Campbell: Artists’ studios

7 June 2001
... on the other. By the middle of the 19th century painters were making the fashion as much as following it. Millais put up a grand, if conventional mansion in Knightsbridge and Watts led the way to Holland Park, where Lord Leighton turned to brick for his richly decorated studio house – seeming to imply that Belgravian stucco isn’t honest enough for an artist. The house E.W. Godwin built for ...

At the National Gallery

Peter​ Campbell: Good Enough to Eat

24 January 2008
... Gallery of a lobster, cooked to a brilliant scarlet and accompanied by glasses of wine, bread, a peeled lemon and an elaborate silver-mounted drinking horn – the original horn is in a museum in Holland – is perfect in its detail. But the insistent surfaces, the glitter of the crustacean’s shell and the luxury of it and its trappings, are so meticulously described that you can feel, as you can ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter​ Campbell: David Wilkie

31 October 2002
... have told, but a look at his early work invites other thoughts. First, just as the late pictures show him reaching for the effects other men achieved, so it is necessary to look further afield than Holland for apt comparisons with the early ones. Wilkie, who knew the Dulwich Gallery, much admired the Watteau there. His touch – in particular his way with fabric – is much more French than Dutch. His ...
19 March 1998
The Autumn of the Middle Ages 
by John Huizinga, translated by Rodney Payton.
Chicago, 560 pp., £15.95, December 1997, 0 226 35994 8
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... his doctorate in 1897, and his idiosyncratic path from there to the European Middle Ages shaped what he did when he arrived. Dutch history had only begun in earnest in the 16th century, so that Holland was late in producing medievalists. The first Dutch chair in the subject was founded in 1900, in Utrecht, its first holder a German, who upheld the conservative tradition of approaching the Middle ...
21 May 1981
A Lonely Business: A Self-Portrait of James Pope-Hennessy 
edited by Peter​ Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 297 77918 4
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... letters, a patchy diary and some Queen Mary research memoranda of considerable interest – brings out all too clearly the unevenness of his character and achievement. It is tactfully introduced by Peter Quennell, a friend described by Pope-Hennessy elsewhere in the volume as ‘amiable as always, but fundamentally antipathetic’. Mr Quennell does not disguise the less agreeable side of his friend ...

A life, surely?

Jenny Diski: To Portobello on Angel Dust

18 February 1999
The Ossie Clark Diaries 
edited by Henrietta Rous.
Bloomsbury, 402 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7475 3901 4
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... harmonisation in Europe; are we just a cocktail of amino-acids shaken but not stirred; how much longer before I die – I fall to brooding about that devastating term of abuse of our times, the Peter Pan crow of complacency: Get a life. I am impressed and rather envious of those who use the phrase: that they can be so certain that they know what a life is, and so convinced that they have one ...
18 August 1994
Essays, Mainly Shakespearean 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 386 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 40444 4
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English Comedy 
edited by Michael Cordner, Peter Holland and John Kerrigan.
Cambridge, 323 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 521 41917 4
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... Humane, learned, un-showily stylish and at times moving in their tender intelligence, these essays by Anne Barton, ranging from a richly ‘mellow’ piece first published in 1953 – a period when even undergraduates wrote as if they were middle-aged – to the magnificent ‘Wrying a Little’, on Cymbeline, Jacobean marriage law and female desire, are nourishing to the spirit. Livy, Machiavelli ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan

16 February 1984
The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter​ Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
River 
by Ted Hughes and Peter​ Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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Quoof 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... involution, young poets are in some danger of neglecting an essential resource of the Story. Certainly, to read a collection like The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, newly-edited by Iona and Peter Opie, is to be reminded of the powerful appeal that’s made in poetry by ‘the kind of story in which, you want to know what happens next’. The Opies’ choice is often cautious and occasionally ...

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