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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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... RalphBennett’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 ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1984

20 December 1984
... Lindsay as a child in India astride an enormous gun. Awards for films and for commercials. A pinboard 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 ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’

7 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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... words, ‘politically tone-deaf’ is a ranging inclusivity in his social relations: John Dryden, 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 ...

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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... played by Malcolm McDowell, undergoes a similar revelation in O Lucky Man! (1973). The film is a 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 ...

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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... invention in Frederica’s adventures there. One sees it in the names of the luminaries who gather 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 ...

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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...  to the minor fiddles of a figure like Lance Corporal Jones, the elderly butcher in Dad’s Army 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 ...


Alan Bennett: Finding My Métier

4 January 2018
... the Fortune Theatre), The Changing Room and Home; effortless they seemed to be, particularly under Lindsay 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 ...
20 December 1979
An Actor and his Time 
by John Gielgud.
Sidgwick, 253 pp., £8.95
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... rehearsal Mlle Sereville was dressed in a very short skirt and her stockings were rolled below her knees 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 ...


Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations

20 October 1994
... from when I first met him twenty-five years ago. Dame Judi is here and Michael Williams, Dame 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 ...

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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... Collected Letters. Though otherwise tireless, Mr Laurence always stops short at the index, which in 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 ...
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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... thought first of publishing his article not in some London paper but in the Cambridge Review. He was 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 ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006

4 January 2007
... time, no problem. 8 July, Yorkshire. As I’m getting some money out of the cashpoint on Duke Street 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 ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011

5 January 2012
... Korda’s The Four Feathers (1939), the film of A.E.W. Mason’s novel. It’s a film I remember vividly 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 ...
6 June 1996
... bag-man and fixer within the Democratic Party and throughout the capital city, had been convicted in a sensational trial of tax fraud and conspiracy. His attorney, the no less legendary Edward Bennett Williams (known as ‘the man to see’), was in effect sending him off on a cruise while he played out the appeals procedure. Confronted with this gargoyle of the old gang, many of the Rhodes boys ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother

3 January 2013
The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... Abinger edition of Forster’s Indian memoir The Hill of Devi). In the ultra-laconic entries for 1924 he records: ‘Aug 19. Had B.S. at 46 Gordon Square. Aug 25. Had R.P. at Ham Spray’ (R.P. is Ralph Partridge, then married to Dora Carrington). What were these ‘havings’, one wonders? It’s a rakish term which discourages further questions. In Denmark in 1926, there was ‘the great escapade ...

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