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Thatcher, Thatcher, Thatcher

John Gray: The Tory Future

22 April 2010
The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 446 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 7456 4857 6
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Back from the Brink: The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection 
by Peter Snowdon.
Harper Press, 419 pp., £14.99, March 2010, 978 0 00 730725 8
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... return to office as a foregone conclusion: ‘just as was the case for Margaret Thatcher, Cameron will ultimately be judged and defined by what he does.’ A journalist who may be closer to events, PeterSnowdon ends his book on a more equivocal note: ‘If the last four and a half years have been testing for Cameron’s Conservative Party,’ he writes, ‘the next few will be far harder, whether ...

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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... You need​ to be over seventy now to remember the awful thrill 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 ...

Beyond Discussion

Neal Ascherson

3 April 1980
The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial 
by Auberon Waugh.
Joseph, 240 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7181 1799 9
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... for, respectively, the Liberal Party and the Dog Lovers. Both lost. The trial proper then opened at the Old Bailey on 8 May 1979. The main prosecution witnesses, Norman Scott, the ex-Liberal MP Peter Bessell and the dog-slaying Newton, all admitted that they had been great liars in the past but said that they were now telling the truth. Some of them, it turned out, stood to make far more money on ...

My Little Lollipop

Jenny Diski: Christine Keeler

22 March 2001
The Truth at Last: My Story 
by Christine Keeler and Douglas Thompson.
Sidgwick, 279 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 0 283 07291 1
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... no one in society he didn’t massage. When he wasn’t manipulating them, he was sketching them, having discovered a talent for making likenesses. The Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret, Lord Snowdon, Archbishop Makarios and Adolf Eichmann all sat for portraits. He was an invitee at all the fashionable parties, and a man who specialised in providing fun for his friends. Keeler met him when she ...

England’s End

Peter​ Campbell

7 June 1984
English Journey 
by J.B. Priestley.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 434 60371 6
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English Journey, or The Road to Milton Keynes 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth/BBC, 158 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 563 20299 8
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Crisis and Conservation: Conflict in the British Countryside 
by Charlie Pye-Smith and Chris Rose.
Penguin, 213 pp., £3.95, March 1984, 0 14 022437 8
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Invisible Country: A Journey through Scotland 
by James Campbell.
Weidenfeld, 164 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 297 78371 8
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Literary Britain 
by Bill Brandt.
Victoria and Albert Museum in association with Hurtwood Press, 184 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 905209 66 4
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... the Piranesian grandeur of the photographs would make the towns and streets where they were taken into shrines – places as sacred to lovers of the industrial sublime as Gordale Scar or Snowdon are to lovers of the Burkean kind. Bainbridge, uncomprehending of or depressed by new townscapes, gives few marks for the cars, television sets, bathrooms and freezers, public buildings and state ...

Seeing Things

John Bayley

18 July 1996
The World, the World 
by Norman Lewis.
Cape, 293 pp., £18.99, April 1996, 0 224 04234 3
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Omnibus: ‘A Dragon Apparent’, ‘Golden Earth’, ‘A Goddess in the Stones’ 
by Norman Lewis.
Picador, 834 pp., £9.99, January 1996, 0 330 33780 7
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... a sure seller – and vehemently dissuaded him from writing anything about South America. ‘What about Brazilian Adventure?’ the young travelogue aspirant ventured to ask, to be crisply told that Peter Fleming’s book had sold as an adventure, not as a book about Brazil. Fleming’s two prewar travel books, the Brazilian one and News from Tartary, which is still better, succeeded so well because ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín: Rupert Everett

6 September 2007
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... would give them the number of other celebrities, pretending it was the emergency number of the Water Board, to call when the taps had finally run dry. Often, they gave them the number of poor Lord Snowdon. Sometimes this was done out of sheer unpleasantness, but the night it went wrong it was done for pettier motives. Nona Summers, a society hostess, was that evening minding her own business in her ...


Michael Dobson: How to Be a Favourite

5 October 2006
Literature and Favouritism in Early Modern England 
by Curtis Perry.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £50, February 2006, 0 521 85405 9
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... tied up with Elizabeth’s business during the 1560s, whether strutting around Whitehall Palace or exerting the queen’s authority elsewhere – as chancellor of the University of Oxford, ranger of Snowdon Forest, or high steward of Windsor, Bristol, Reading, Abingdon, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Wallingford, Tewkesbury and St Albans – that he didn’t manage to visit Kenilworth once during the ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters

25 September 2008
So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... theme for the letters. There was the impertinence of photographers, who made her sit on a coil of wet rope on the Embankment when she won the Booker (‘Jane Bown . . . tells me that when Lord Snowdon came to photograph Anita B. he pinned her at the back with clothes pegs and she was justifiably upset’). Then there were the judgments of critics. She was compared, inevitably, with Barbara Pym and ...

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