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In Finest Fig

E.S. Turner: The Ocean Greyhounds, 20 October 2005

The Liner: Retrospective and Renaissance 
by Philip Dawson, foreword by Stephen Payne.
Conway Maritime, 256 pp., £30, July 2005, 0 85177 938 7
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... masters, cutting out the ship’s stewards, a Cunard carry-on I did not know about until I read Philip Dawson’s The Liner. Perhaps such things also happened aboard the ‘ocean greyhounds’ of the Axis. Hitler’s dashing duo were the Bremen, which had a catapult-operated light aircraft, and the Europa; Mussolini’s matched pair were the Rex and ...


John Sutherland, 15 September 1988

The Secret Life of Wilkie Collins 
by William Clarke.
Allison and Busby, 239 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 0 85031 960 9
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Wilkie Collins: Women, Property and Propriety 
by Philip O’Neill.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £27.50, September 1988, 9780333421994
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... Tryphena Sparks, Trollope and Kate Field, James and his obscure hurt. So when Monica Jones follows Philip Larkin’ s request by burning his diaries do we feel resentment because the destruction will set an eternal gap between reader and poem? Or is it something lower – frustration at not having served up on some not too distant Sunday the ‘secret ...


Ian Gilmour: The Cliveden Set, 19 October 2000

The Cliveden Set: Portrait of an Exclusive Fraternity 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 277 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 06093 7
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... In twenty years,’ Lady Astor used to say of Philip Kerr, Lord Lothian, ‘I’ve never known Philip to be wrong on foreign politics.’ Though Lothian himself thought much the same, it is, in fact, harder to think of an occasion when he was right. As Sir Robert Vansittart, the strongly anti-Nazi head of the Foreign Office in the 1930s put it, ‘Lothian was an incurably superficial Johnny-Know-All ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again, 11 August 2016

Robert Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... amount of Valium, to little effect. (Lowell preferred to think of himself as a bear.) When Carley Dawson, a post-Stafford girlfriend, said something about Shakespeare that Lowell didn’t like, he throttled her and swung her to the floor, his face ‘completely white, completely blank’. In 1961 Lowell met a writer called Sandra Hochman, and immediately ...

Waldorf’s Birthday Present

Gabriele Annan: The Lovely Langhornes, 7 January 1999

The Langhorne Sisters 
by James Fox.
Granta, 612 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 86207 071 7
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... into the Round Table, a proto-think tank named after a quarterly started by Milner and edited by Philip Kerr. Much later the group metamorphosed into the Cliveden Set. Fox calls his chapter about the Kindergarten alumni ‘Brain Fag’ (Kerr’s coinage), ‘a form of anti-climactic stress ... contracted from years of cerebral overload at the altitude of ...

At the Met

Michael Hofmann: Beckmann in New York, 16 February 2017

... mouth (so perplexingly reminiscent of the late ‘my mother-in-law’ British comedian Les Dawson). Somehow, I am always drawn to these short, pyknic or mesomorphic creators, whether they are Brodsky, Benn, Beckmann or my father. As the Nazis came up things grew abruptly tight for Beckmann. He lost his job in Frankfurt (‘public funds for Jew lackeys ...


Alan Bennett: Selling my hair on eBay, 6 January 2022

... me about Worship Street, where I lodged in the early days of Beyond the Fringe in 1961. It was a Philip Webb building (date: 1862) with a workshop on the ground floor and accommodation above, with the lease belonging to Henrietta Roberts (later Dombey), the daughter of Michael Roberts and Janet Adam Smith. What occasioned Rupert’s interest was his having ...

Women of Quality

E.S. Turner, 9 October 1986

The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... thought much about it’. After this avowal of broad-mindedness (the tale has already been told in Philip Williams’s Hugh Gaitskell) she was fit to be introduced to (Sir) Maurice Bowra and all the other intellectual roisterers. Was it really as simple and half-baked as this? Gaitskell, we learn, was ‘eager to fix his own identity through instructing others ...

What Sport!

Paul Laity: George Steer, 5 June 2003

Telegram from Guernica: The Extraordinary Life of George Steer, War Correspondent 
by Nicholas Rankin.
Faber, 256 pp., £14.99, April 2003, 0 571 20563 1
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... it spells SEMIT, which leads them to deduce that we are a Jewish-Marxist organisation.’ Geoffrey Dawson, the editor, and a keen appeaser, was dismayed that his paper had been responsible for an increase in international tension. He stood behind Steer rather reluctantly. ‘I do my utmost, night after night, to keep out of the paper anything that might hurt ...

Musical Chairs with Ribbentrop

Bee Wilson: Nancy Astor, 20 December 2012

Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor 
by Adrian Fort.
Cape, 378 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 224 09016 2
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... Cliveden and in St James’s Square – had evolved. Now, the Astors frequently invited Geoffrey Dawson, editor of the Times, Nevile Henderson, ambassador to Germany, and Philip Kerr, the Marquess of Lothian, a Christian Scientist like Nancy, and one of several to express the view that in marching into the ...

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