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What did they do with it?

F.H. Hinsley, 27 July 1989

Ultra and Mediterranean Strategy 1941-1945 
by Ralph Bennett.
Hamish Hamilton, 496 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 0 241 12687 8
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... Ralph Bennett’s first book on intelligence in the Second World War – Ultra in the West – dealt with the Normandy invasion and the campaign in North-West Europe. This volume appears later, in what he calls ‘an unnatural order’, because the material on which both are based was released to the public records without regard for chronological sequence ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1984, 20 December 1984

... on which is a picture of Brecht, a photo of the cast of What the butler saw. Lindsay directing Ralph Richardson. A group photo of some critics. ‘Look at them, Alan. I mean, is it surprising?’ He has no pretensions to taste and would presumably despise the word. Coffee over, he starts preparing lunch. He is a hospitable man, though the odd thing is he ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 8 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... Andrew Marvell, Edmund Waller, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, John Milton, Wenceslaus Hollar. As Kate Bennett writes in the introduction to her superb new edition of Brief Lives, ‘we may be able to hear, through him, the 17th century talking to and about itself.’ What do we hear? We hear that William Petty teaches anatomy at Brasenose and keeps a partially ...

The Thief and the Trousers

Owen Bennett-Jones: John Stonehouse disappears, 21 April 2022

Stonehouse: Cabinet Minister, Fraudster, Spy 
by Julian Hayes.
Robinson, 384 pp., £25, July 2021, 978 1 4721 4654 0
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John Stonehouse, My Father: The True Story of the Runaway MP 
by Julia Stonehouse.
Icon, 384 pp., £10.99, May, 978 1 78578 819 2
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... if someone in the IRA had read The Ultimate and taken the idea from there. Two other thrillers, Ralph (1982) and The Baring Fault (1986), published under his own name, dealt with a tricky topic for Stonehouse: both are stories about British politicians spying for the Soviet bloc, one of them initially compromised by a honeytrap. After his early release ...


Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... Wendy, Lindsay A., Ron Pickup and Anna Massey, Keith Baxter, Percy Harris, who’s 90 herself, and Ralph Richardson’s widow, Mu. I am happily seated between Jocelyn Herbert and Merula Guinness, with both of whom one can be happily silly. ‘You see,’ says Jocelyn. ‘I look down this table at all these distinguished people and think: What am I doing ...

Mockney Rebels

Thomas Jones: Lindsay Anderson, 20 July 2000

Mainly about Linsay Anderson 
by Gavin Lambert.
Faber, 302 pp., £18.99, May 2000, 0 571 17775 1
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... picaresque fable that follows Travis’s fortunes as he rises from humble coffee salesman to PA to Ralph Richardson’s millionaire businessman, only to be scapegoated by his boss and sent to prison for fraud; from there he emerges a would-be social reformer, and is ripped off, ignored and finally beaten up by the poor he tries to help; he ends up auditioning ...

Gielgud’s Achievements

Alan Bennett, 20 December 1979

An Actor and his Time 
by John Gielgud.
Sidgwick, 253 pp., £8.95
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... like a footballer’s, showing a considerable expanse of thigh.’ Sounding unaccountably like Ralph Lynn in an Aldwych farce, Gielgud ventured to remark to Hicks: ‘I say, sir, that’s a remarkably attractive girl with M Guitry, don’t you think,’ and was rewarded with the trenchant comment: ‘Try acting with her old boy. It’s the cabman’s ...

Thirty Years Ago

Patrick Parrinder, 18 July 1985

Still Life 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 358 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 7011 2667 1
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Wales’ Work 
by Robert Walshe.
Secker, 279 pp., £8.95, July 1985, 9780436561450
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... around her, names such as Raphael Faber (compare Hardy’s Angel Clare), Hugh Pink, Harvey Organ, Ralph Tempest and Harold Manchester. Such names would belong in satire or pastoral but sit oddly in a fictional world which is so close to the fringes of the ‘real’ historical world that it offers walk-on parts to actual persons, including Kingsley ...

Iniquity in Romford

Bernard Porter: Black Market Britain, 23 May 2013

Black Market Britain 1939-55 
by Mark Roodhouse.
Oxford, 276 pp., £65, March 2013, 978 0 19 958845 9
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... who slips the buxom Mrs Fox a couple of sausages on the side. (In his LRB Diary for 2002, Alan Bennett cited a letter from a Grantham evacuee reporting the rumour that Alderman Roberts was ‘thought to be into the black market’. It is tempting to imagine that this was where Thatcher learned her neoliberal ethics, but ‘a bit under the counter’ may ...


Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier, 4 January 2018

... Anderson’s direction. I met Gielgud when he was rehearsing Home, in which he starred with Ralph Richardson, and he sang David’s praises. ‘He’s the ideal playwright. Never says a word.’5 May. Angels in America opens at the National. When I saw the original production at the Cottesloe in 1992 I found I was sitting behind Derek Jarman. I knew ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... in Settle I feel a tug at my jacket. I look down and it’s little white-haired 85-year-old Onyx Ralph, who just about comes up to my waist. ‘Hello, Mr Bennett. Did you think I was a mugger?’ 11 July. Baroness Scotland is put up to defend the government’s shameful capitulation to the United States in the extradition ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... confident that it would be rejected there: ‘It’s wrong to affront the Provost of King’s, Mrs Bennett’ – wife of his enemy at Emmanuel – ‘and Mr Hough.’ These were people he had a variety of reasons for not liking. But he also had reasons at least as strong for disliking the editors of the Times Literary Supplement (successively Alan ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... from when it first came out, the few minutes that I see the scene in which Durrance, played by Ralph Richardson, loses his pith helmet as he’s climbing a cliff in the desert. The helmet bounces away down onto the sand leaving him exposed to the burning sun, which sends him blind. One other scene stands out. The hero, Harry Faversham (John ...

Fabian Figaro

Michael Holroyd, 3 December 1981

Shaw’s Music. Vol. I: 1876-1890 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 957 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30247 8
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. II: 1890-1893 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 985 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30249 4
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. III: 1893-1950 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 910 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30248 6
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Conducted Tour 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.50, November 1981, 0 224 01896 5
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... this case acts as a table of contents, covers 120 pages and has been compiled by a second hero, Mr Ralph Bateman. Mr Laurence is primarily and most formidably a bibliographical scholar. His bibliography of Shaw is awaited by all those engaged in Shaw studies with something of the frenzy of telephone subscribers without directories. One of the chief features of ...

This Guilty Land

Eric Foner: Every Possible Lincoln, 17 December 2020

Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times 
by David S. Reynolds.
Penguin, 1066 pp., £33.69, September, 978 1 59420 604 7
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The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for American Freedom 
by H.W. Brands.
Doubleday, 445 pp., £24, October, 978 0 385 54400 9
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... contested’ subject of Lincoln’s racial attitudes? A little over twenty years ago, Lerone Bennett Jr, an African American historian, published Forced into Glory, which drew on Lincoln’s prewar statements opposing civil and political rights for Blacks (his comment on female suffrage was limited to whites), and his advocacy of colonising freed ...

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