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Walking like Swinburne

P.N. Furbank, 12 July 1990

Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant 
by Philip Hoare.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £20, June 1990, 0 241 12416 6
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... It is worth stating a few facts about Stephen Tennant, the subject of this excellent biography by Philip Hoare, in case some readers may not have heard of him. He was born in 1906, the son of a rich industrialist, Edward Tennant, who became Lord Glenconner in 1911, and of Pamela Wyndham, one of the Wyndham sisters immortalised by Sargent in his painting The Three Graces ...

The Exploding Harpoon

Kathleen Jamie: Whales, 8 August 2013

The Sea Inside 
by Philip Hoare.
Fourth Estate, 374 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 0 00 741211 2
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... and mysteries, cruelties and colourful characters, and occasional flashes of enlightenment, as Philip Hoare’s book reminds us. Chief among the enigmas are other people. Until that moment, I’d thought the whale unfathomable. A half-fabled creature, emerging from the deep in a holiday resort. But that woman was now the greater puzzle. What was going ...
Noël Coward: A Biography 
by Philip Hoare.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 605 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 85619 265 2
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... The pity of it, or conceivably the charm, was that he was also a professional enfant terrible. Philip Hoare’s biography is described as authoritative, rather than authorised. An authorised biography was to have been written by James Pope-Hennessy, who had gathered much material before he came to his violent end. ...

Mauve Monkeys

William Fiennes, 18 September 1997

Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War 
by Philip Hoare.
Duckworth, 250 pp., £16.95, July 1997, 0 7156 2737 6
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... of hydrangeas. It’s hard to believe, but people were taking it in turns to recite Swinburne. Philip Hoare’s Wilde’s Last Stand is concerned with a more energetic strain of hedonism. By the end of 1915 it was estimated that there were 150 nightclubs in Soho alone: haunts such as the Cave of the Golden Calf, where aristocratic bohemians ...

Doing the impossible

James Joll, 7 May 1981

Retreat from Power: Studies in Britain’s Foreign Policy of the 20th Century 
edited by David Dilks.
Macmillan, 213 pp., £10, February 1981, 0 333 28910 2
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... in two important articles on ‘Britain and Germany – The Search for Agreement’ and on ‘The Hoare-Laval Pact Reconsidered’, the differences of opinion between the Foreign Office and Chamberlain and his advisers were not nearly as great as some people in the Foreign Office subsequently claimed. Even Sir Robert Vansittart often took, at the time, a line ...

How’s the vampire?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 November 1990

King Edward VIII: The Official Biography 
by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 654 pp., £20, September 1990, 0 00 215741 1
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... the ridiculous blend of deference and denial that goes into the making of public support for it. Philip Ziegler is a historian of uncommon candour and, especially considering the ‘authorised’ nature of his work, unusual humour. Yet in the very first paragraph of his very first page he pitches face-forward into the enduring fallacy that sustains our ...
Djuna Barnes 
by Philip Herring.
Viking, 416 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 670 84969 3
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... Barnes later said that she loved her grandmother Zadel ‘as a child usually loves its mother’, Philip Herring quotes letters to her from Zadel which say things like ‘Pink Tops are simply gasping with love!’ (‘Pink Tops’ are Zadel’s breasts) and feature cartoons of naked women on top of one another. He also claims that Barnes may have been raped ...

Fusi’s Franco

David Gilmour, 4 February 1988

Franco 
by Juan Pablo Fusi, translated by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Unwin Hyman, 202 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 04 923083 2
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... democracy’. As he gave the Church greater privileges than it had enjoyed since the reign of Philip II, ‘Catholic’ was a reasonable adjective to use. ‘Organic democracy’ was of course a nonsense: it was held to stem from ‘natural organisms’ (the family, the municipality and the syndicate) rather than from unnatural, inorganic things like ...

Golden Dolly

John Pemble: Rich Britons, 24 September 2009

Who Were the Rich? A Biographical Directory of British Wealth-Holders. Vol. I: 1809-39 
by William Rubinstein.
Social Affairs Unit, 516 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 1 904863 39 7
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... a tailor, a lacemaker, a potter and a jeweller all died better off than the royals they served. Philip Rundell, diamond jeweller by appointment, was a millionaire. The personal assets of Queen Charlotte, his most important customer, were valued at £140,000 – diamonds, presumably, included. Some magnates with the Midas touch ...

Angering and Agitating

Christopher Turner: Freud’s fan club, 30 November 2006

Freud’s Wizard: The Enigma of Ernest Jones 
by Brenda Maddox.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 7195 6792 0
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... the matter over to the police. Since then, in a 2002 essay in Studies in Gender and Sexuality, Philip Kuhn has unearthed information which casts doubt on Jones’s innocence. Though charges were only pressed on behalf of two girls, four children he’d examined made complaints about him in a single day. ‘The evidence,’ Maddox concludes, ‘looks ...

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