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Auld Lang Syne

Graham Hough, 1 December 1983

Sebastian or Ruling Passions 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 202 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13445 9
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Woman Beware Woman 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 176 pp., £7.95, November 1983, 0 224 02164 8
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Queen of Stones 
by Emma Tennant.
Picador, 159 pp., £2.50, September 1983, 0 330 28074 0
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Blue Rise 
by Rebecca Hill.
Joseph, 296 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2372 7
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Here to get my baby out of jail 
by Louise Shivers.
Collins, 141 pp., £6.95, October 1983
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... that Emma Tennant has such a masterful hand with mystery that she enjoys it a little too much. Rebecca Hill is compared on her dust-jacket to Eudora Welty, and Louise Shivers’s novel comes with an endorsement from Eudora Welty herself. So we are headed for the rural South, a region that has always been richly rewarding to American writers. Blue Rise ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Rebecca’, 20 July 2006

Rebecca 
directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
June 2006
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... the master told François Truffaut. He was being a little cagy, but in one sense he was right. Rebecca, now showing in a brand-new, sharp-focus print at the National Film Theatre and the Screen on the Hill, was a David O. Selznick film, ‘a picturisation’ as the title credits have it, of a very successful novel. ‘We ...

Ladies and Gentlemen

Patricia Beer, 6 May 1982

The Young RebeccaWritings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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1990 
by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... The Young Rebecca is a collection of the writings of Rebecca West from 1911 to 1917, selected and introduced by Jane Marcus, with just the right amount of explanation and comment. In one respect it is an unfortunate title, suggesting an item from the cast-list of almost any black-and-white film about almost any celebrity, but in the respect that it makes a point of Rebecca West’s youth, it is a good title ...

More Fun to Be a Boy

Lorna Scott Fox: Haunted by du Maurier, 2 November 2000

Daphne du Maurier: Haunted Heiress 
by Nina Auerbach.
Pennsylvania, 216 pp., £18.50, December 1999, 0 8122 3530 4
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... a trashy writer of escapist romance: you’re likely to find Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek and Rebecca in the teenage section, and the other titles practically nowhere – so why this ardent study? By the end of it, though, Nina Auerbach has achieved quite a rehabilitation. This du Maurier is not one of a brace of representative low-culture populists. Nor ...

One’s Self-Washed Drawers

Rosemary Hill: Ida John, 29 June 2017

The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John 
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £25, May 2017, 978 1 4088 7362 5
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... so, given that Holroyd, as his biographer, knows him from his more attractive angles and Rebecca John is his granddaughter as well as Ida’s, yet he is given the benefit of too many doubts. Describing how he began a double portrait of Ida and Dorelia and later painted Ida out, a note assures us that he did it ‘without realising the pain he gave ...

Which came first, the condition or the drug?

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen: Bipolar Disorder, 7 October 2010

Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder 
by David Healy.
Johns Hopkins, 296 pp., £16.50, May 2008, 978 0 8018 8822 9
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... house of Michael and Carolyn Riley in response to an emergency call. Their four-year-old daughter, Rebecca, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years earlier. When the officers reached the house, they found Rebecca sprawled on the floor next to her teddy bear. She had died from an overdose of the medication cocktail ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite, 18 May 1989

The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... are a few well-chosen touches: the Australians Karl and Irene eating Christmas dinner in Notting Hill Gate wearing their matching black bikinis: ‘This reminded them of home.’ But these touches are few. The political thinking is on the lines of ‘she felt she had been terribly naive as the country’s secret fangs were revealed in all their ugliness, and ...

Dying and Not Dying

Cathy Gere: Henrietta Lacks, 10 June 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 
by Rebecca Skloot.
Macmillan, 368 pp., £18.99, June 2010, 978 0 230 74869 9
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... long been aware that there is a human story behind HeLa’s blandly commercialised ubiquity; now Rebecca Skloot’s remarkable book has appeared to fill in all the details. The moniker ‘HeLa’ is derived from the name of a young African-American mother of five, whose agonising death in a Jim Crow era charity hospital gave rise to a quiet revolution in ...

From Lying to Leering

Rebecca Solnit: Penis Power, 19 January 2017

... bitched that she was ‘screaming’ and Bob Cusack, the editor of the political newspaper the Hill, said: ‘When Hillary Clinton raises her voice, she loses.’ One could get the impression that a woman should campaign in a sultry whisper, but of course if she did that she would not project power. But if she did project power she would fail as a ...

Check out the parking lot

Rebecca Solnit: Hell in LA, 8 July 2004

Dante's Inferno 
by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders.
Chronicle, 218 pp., £15.99, May 2004, 0 8118 4213 4
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... in Purgatory yet. The elevator opens onto a platform where you can catch a monorail up the hill to the museum. Disneyland too has a monorail, and though on my first visit to the Getty I thought of it as a nice tribute to its sister amusement park, we perplexed everyone around us by walking up the unfrequented road the quarter mile or so to the ...

Every single one matters

Elaine Showalter and English Showalter: The first black female novelist?, 18 August 2005

In Search of Hannah Crafts: Critical Essays on ‘The Bondwoman’s Narrative’ 
edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Hollis Robbins.
Basic Books, 458 pp., £17.50, January 2005, 0 465 02708 3
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... was the story of a woman’s life as a house slave on the North Carolina plantation of John Hill Wheeler, her escape to New Jersey in 1857, and her composition of an autobiographical fiction incorporating ‘elements of the many sentimental sagas she had evidently borrowed from Mr Wheeler’s shelf’. Although ‘replete with the heavy-handed ...

Unhappy Childhoods

John Sutherland, 2 February 1989

Trollope and Character 
by Stephen Wall.
Faber, 397 pp., £17.50, September 1988, 0 571 14595 7
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The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Michigan, 528 pp., $35, December 1988, 0 472 10102 1
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Dickens: A Biography 
by Fred Kaplan.
Hodder, 607 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 340 48558 2
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Charlotte Brontë 
by Rebecca Fraser.
Methuen, 543 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 9780413570109
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... so frustrating. On a fine September day in 1860 the author had a gigantic bonfire at Gad’s Hill in which ‘the accumulated letters and papers of twenty years’ were ruthlessly destroyed. His sons, Henry and Plorn, carried basketful after basketful to the flames. As he watched the records of his life turn to smoke, Dickens exclaimed: ‘Would to God ...

Are you part Neanderthal?

Steven Mithen: Early Humans, 1 December 2011

Origin of Our Species 
by Chris Stringer.
Allen Lane, 333 pp., £20, June 2011, 978 1 84614 140 9
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... is opening avenues into the past which until recently were unimaginable. Twenty-five years ago Rebecca Cann and her colleagues published a seminal paper in Nature that analysed the diversity of mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) among living people around the world. MtDNA is the component of our DNA that is passed on from the mother alone and has an especially high ...

Lotti’s Leap

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 July 1982

Collected Poems and Prose 
by Charlotte Mew, edited by Val Warner.
Carcanet/Virago, 445 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 85635 260 8
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... educationalists of the turn of the century. ‘There was something royal in her nature,’ Octavia Hill wrote. There was also a strongly masculine element. She was one of the conspicuous successes of the liberal and unsectarian Bedford College: a brilliant scholar (as well as an expert carpenter) and a supporter of liberal movements – she kept as a souvenir ...

What does she think she looks like?

Rosemary Hill: The Dress in Your Head, 5 April 2018

... London, struggling at times to keep her end up in the conversation. ‘Am asked what I think of [Rebecca West’s] Harriet Hume’, the Provincial Lady notes in November, ‘but am unable to say, as I have not read it. Have a depressed feeling that this is going to be another case of Orlando about which was perfectly able to talk most intelligently until I ...

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