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Living Doll and Lilac Fairy

Penelope Fitzgerald, 31 August 1989

Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... correspondence between 1918 and 1925, when they married, has been edited by a niece and a nephew, Polly Hill and Richard Keynes, who rightly believe that it will be ‘of value and interest and will not offend their ghosts’. In an excellent introduction they admit that Lydia, in the early stages, must have worn herself out in flattering Maynard. She ...

Crusoe and Daughter

Patricia Craig, 20 June 1985

Crusoe’s Daughter 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11526 4
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The Tie that Binds 
by Kent Haruf.
Joseph, 246 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 7181 2561 4
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Hannie Richards, or The Intrepid Adventures of a Restless Wife 
by Hilary Bailey.
Virago, 265 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780860683469
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A Fine Excess 
by Jane Ellison.
Secker, 183 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 14601 0
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Victory over Japan 
by Ellen Gilchrist.
Faber, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 571 13446 7
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... Heights has left its mark indirectly on this novel. Crusoe’s Daughter, with its heroine Polly Flint metaphorically cast away, and not cast down by it, is rather more open about its literary appropriations. Polly Flint, though, is a good deal more than Crusoe’s parrot. Crusoe, for her, is both a solace and an ...


Frank Kermode, 11 May 1995

John Gay: A Profession of Friendship. A Critical Biography 
by David Nokes.
Oxford, 563 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 19 812971 8
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... as Macheath. He didn’t move against the play, but by banning its relatively innocent sequel Polly before it reached the stage he effectively ended Gay’s theatrical career. David Nokes, who is uniquely learned in all that concerns Gay and enormously well-informed about the entire literary-political scene, has understandably felt a duty to describe in ...
... or even that of peasant pioneer, like the early cocoa farmers of the Gold Coast studied by Polly Hill who were more or less compelled to supplement the labour of their families with wage-workers from neighbouring regions who were then paid by the load. The role may be favoured by the prior existence of a highly stratified social structure which ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... 1933-1948, or fictional autobiographies such as Robert Graves’s I, Claudius, or Danny Hill: Memoirs of a Prominent Gentleman (edited by Francis King) and Margaret Forster’s ‘edition’ of Thackeray’s Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman, the book mingled respected literary figures still alive in Britain with private characters who, if not ...

Green War

Patricia Craig, 19 February 1987

Poetry in the Wars 
by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 264 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 906427 74 6
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We Irish: The Selected Essays of Denis Donoghue 
Harvester, 275 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7108 1011 3Show More
The Battle of The Books 
by W.J. McCormack.
Lilliput, 94 pp., £3.95, October 1986, 0 946640 13 0
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The Twilight of Ascendancy 
by Mark Bence-Jones.
Constable, 327 pp., £14.95, January 1987, 0 09 465490 5
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl 
edited by John Quinn.
Methuen, 144 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 413 14350 3
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... sectarianism: this is one of the points underlined in the collection of essays Across a Roaring Hill (subtitled ‘The Protestant Imagination in Modern Ireland’), which Edna Longley co-edited in 1985. Some of the contributors to this book sought to distinguish between the imaginations of certain Protestant writers, and a Protestant, or Catholic, cast of ...

Tang and Tone

Stephen Fender: The Federal Writer’s Project’s American epic, 18 March 2004

Portrait of America: A Cultural History of the Federal Writers’ Project 
by Jerrold Hirsch.
North Carolina, 293 pp., £16.50, November 2003, 0 8078 5489 1
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... learn that the Dandridge County Courthouse has the marriage bond of Davy Crockett and Polly Finley and the record of an earlier licence, "returned unused", issued to Crockett and Miss Margaret Elder.’ The recourse to ‘association’ answered another old anxiety about the American social and physical landscape: that, as Washington Irving ...


Thomas Jones: Alan Hollinghurst, 6 May 2004

The Line of Beauty 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 501 pp., £16.99, April 2004, 9780330483209
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... It is a time of innocence. Nick Guest has just graduated from Oxford, and is living in Notting Hill with the Feddens: Gerald and Rachel, and their children, Toby and Catherine. He is about to start a PhD on Henry James’s style at UCL. Toby Fedden was a contemporary of Nick’s at university: they weren’t exactly friends, but Nick had a crush on ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... colleagues were devastated, his enemies rejoiced. Two days later the Guardian published a piece by Polly Toynbee denouncing Waugh as one of the ‘reactionary fogeys’ whose icon was Evelyn Waugh. ‘Effete, drunken, snobbish, sneering, racist and sexist’, he was a writer of ‘limited vocabulary’ whose work was ‘empty and destructive’. Eighteen years ...

Incandescent Memory

Thomas Powers: Mark Twain, 28 April 2011

Autobiography of Mark Twain Vol. I 
edited by Harriet Elinor Smith et al.
California, 736 pp., £24.95, November 2010, 978 0 520 26719 0
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... his father was another of them. The date was 24 March 1847; the place was the home of a friend on Hill Street in Hannibal, where John Clemens had taken to his bed with a cold that developed into pneumonia. It was in that room, only minutes before his father’s final rattling breaths, that young Sam for the first time watched one member of his family kiss ...

Former Lovers

Michael Mason, 6 September 1984

The Bourgeois Experience. Victoria to Freud Vol. I: Education of the Senses 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 608 pp., £18.50, March 1984, 0 19 503352 3
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Austin and Mabel: The Amherst Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel Loomis Todd 
by Polly Longsworth.
Farrar, Straus, 449 pp., £18.50, September 1984, 0 374 10716 5
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The Memoirs of John Addington Symonds 
edited by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Hutchinson, 319 pp., £14.95, May 1984, 0 09 154170 0
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... of it than some earlier cultures. The introduction of a female-centred pornography with Fanny Hill, the new ‘sex and sensibility’ standards of 18th-century marriage, the decrease in the age of marriage and first intercourse (plus, according to one reading of the demographic evidence, more of the latter performed without matrimonial intentions) over a ...


E.S. Turner, 22 January 1998

Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Eras 
by Terence Grocott.
Chatham, 430 pp., £30, November 1997, 1 86176 030 2
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... of his flesh to catch a shark, ‘which proved a great relief to them’. Aboard the crippled brig Polly parts of a victim were found pickled against emergency. Faced with these and other examples of involuntary cannibalism, the reader needs to ask himself whether, if lying in hospital awaiting an organ transplant, he would turn away the liver hacked from a ...


Tom Paulin: In Donegal, 8 October 1992

... Leopold Bloom might muse. We hear the biff biff of two helicopters above the council estate on the hill. Then he describes a recent shoot-out: helicopters and SAS men waiting at the bridge, shooting, a wounded IRA man hiding in the roofspace of a row of council houses and moving from one to the other as the houses are searched again and again. The estate is ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... KPMG sued Coopers and Lybrand. Over London United Investments, Price Waterhouse sued KPMG. Over Polly Peck, Touche Ross sued Coopers and Lybrand. Poor Coopers and Lybrand was in the soup more than once over its not altogether distinguished accountancy of the Maxwell empire. It was sued on behalf of Maxwell companies and pensioners by a string of ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment, 20 November 2014

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
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Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
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Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
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A Dylan Thomas Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
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... the eternal necessities of the world.’ ‘Oh, isn’t life a terrible thing, thank God?’ as Polly Garter puts it in Under Milk Wood. From the ‘interfused’ forces of ‘Tintern Abbey’ Thomas quickly found his own style, in a poem that earned him the publication of his first volume as a prize and established a coterie fame he never lost. ‘What hit ...

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