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Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers, 19 August 1999

Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... is not lost, though. What these writers have in common – Marianne Moore, Katherine Anne Porter, Rebecca West, P.L. Travers, Simone de Beauvoir, Elizabeth Bishop, Nadine Gordimer and Anne Sexton, who appear in the volume alongside the writers already mentioned – is that they are not men, which is not as tautological a proposition as it looks. Being a ...

Which is the hero?

David Edgar, 20 March 1997

Henrik Ibsen 
by Robert Ferguson.
Cohen, 466 pp., £25, November 1996, 1 86066 078 9
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... in his essay to the structure of the plays, although he analyses the scene in Rosmersholm in which Rebecca West admits to John Rosmer that she unintentionally provoked Rosmer’s wife, Beate, into killing herself. We know there were two reasons for this: Rebecca’s ambition for Rosmer’s life’s mission (to which Mrs ...

Rainy Nights

Sylvia Clayton, 1 March 1984

Sidney Bernstein 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Cape, 329 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 224 01934 1
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... he could not have been at ease in Bloomsbury with people like Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry and Rebecca West. Yet the book gives few insights into the character of his mind. His artistic tastes were mainly formed by conversation and travel. With Ivor Montagu and other friends he helped to found the Film Society in 1925, as a means of introducing the ...

Soap

Wendy Steiner, 28 June 1990

The New Women and the Old Men: Love, Sex and the Women Question 
by Ruth Brandon.
Secker, 294 pp., £16.95, January 1990, 0 436 06722 6
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... Eleanor Marx, Edith Ellis, Amber Reeves, even such obviously successful women as Beatrice Webb and Rebecca West – none of them managed to live their lives as they would have done had they been entirely free agents. And if it is argued that none of us are free agents, then one need only compare their lives with those of the men they were involved ...

Late Picasso

Nicholas Penny, 20 November 1986

Je suis le Cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso 
edited by Arnold Glimcher and Marc Glimcher.
Thames and Hudson, 349 pp., £36, September 1986, 0 500 23461 2
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The Musèe Picasso, Paris: Catalogue of the Collections. Paintings, Papiers Collés, Picture Reliefs, Sculptures, Ceramics 
by Marie-Laure Besnard-Bernadac, Michéle Richet and Hélène Seckel.
Thames and Hudson, 315 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 500 23461 2
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Degas: The Complete Etchings, Lithographs and Monotypes 
by Jean Adhémar and Françoise Cachin.
Thames and Hudson, 290 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 500 09114 5
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... of 1953/4 (and collected in a volume published by Vintage Books in the US with an introduction by Rebecca West). There is none of the epic grandeur of the Minotaur etchings, but the displays of whores and models and clowns, and the ritual sacrifices, rapes and vigils, have a phantasmagoric character which is often both genuinely menacing and funny. Here ...

Pen Men

Elaine Showalter, 20 March 1986

Men and Feminism in Modern Literature 
by Declan Kiberd.
Macmillan, 250 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 333 38353 2
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Women Writing about Men 
by Jane Miller.
Virago, 256 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 86068 473 3
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Phallic Critiques: Masculinity and 20th-century Literature 
by Peter Schwenger.
Routledge, 172 pp., £29.50, September 1985, 0 7102 0164 8
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... to confront the often hostile representation of men in the works of such writers as Richardson, Rebecca West, Alexandra Kollontai, Christina Stead, Jean Rhys, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Miller’s deliberately unsystematic readings have an impressive cumulative power. By the end of the book, as she discusses the work of black and ...

Power-Seeker

Frank Kermode, 12 October 1989

Bernard Shaw. Vol. II: The Pursuit of Power 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 422 pp., £18, September 1989, 0 7011 3350 3
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... and at 60 there was perhaps a hint of failure or at any rate of a new sobriety in Shaw. Rebecca West wrote of his performance in a wartime speech: ‘The passing of middle age has wiped the aggressive strangeness from his face, by mitigating with silver the redness of his hair and the irate thrust of his eyebrows, and has revealed a predominant ...

Sad Stories

Adam Begley, 5 January 1989

Capote: A Biography 
by Gerald Clarke.
Hamish Hamilton, 632 pp., £16.95, July 1988, 0 241 12549 9
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... others pointed to the masterful structure, key to the terrifying suspense he created; some, like Rebecca West, who called it a ‘grave and reverent book’, applauded Capote’s compassion. In Cold Blood deserves all the praise it received two decades ago; its power has not diminished. Clarke tells the extraordinary, improbable story of how the ...

Baby Face

John Bayley, 24 May 1990

William Gerhardie: A Biography 
by Dido Davies.
Oxford, 411 pp., £25, April 1990, 0 19 211794 7
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Memoirs of a Polyglot 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 381 pp., £5.95, April 1990, 0 86072 111 6
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Futility 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 198 pp., £4.95, April 1990, 0 86072 112 4
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God’s Fifth Column: A Biography of the Age 1890-1940 
by William Gerhardie, edited by Michael Holroyd and Robert Skidelsky.
Hogarth, 360 pp., £8.95, April 1990, 0 7012 0887 2
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... early novels were done made them look like the literary future, not just to Evelyn Waugh but to Rebecca West and Arnold Bennett – the young and the old alike – H.G. Wells, Elizabeth Bowen, Olivia Manning, Anthony Powell. In his time Gerhardie was at least as potent a literary influence in England as Hemingway, and more pervasive, more part of the ...

Thanks to the Fels-Naptha Soap King

Miles Taylor: George Lansbury, 22 May 2003

George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour 
by John Shepherd.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 19 820164 8
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... paper gave space to Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, the young Rebecca West (briefly) and Osbert Sitwell, in addition to G.D.H. Cole and the gifted cartoonist Will Dyson. Later, as leader of the Labour Party in the 1930s, Lansbury presided over a renaissance of intellectual socialism, as Fabians, Socialist ...

Defence of the Housefly

Dinah Birch, 14 November 1996

Letters of Emma and Florence Hardy 
edited by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 364 pp., £45, April 1996, 0 19 818609 6
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... many literary callers – Edmund Blunden, E.M. Forster, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West, John Drink water – and Florence took an eager interest in their conversation. Quick to forget her own afflictions when she sensed greater distress, she did all she could to help Charlotte Mew, whom she pitied and admired. ‘What a pathetic ...

With Luck

John Lanchester, 2 January 1997

The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage 
edited by R.W. Burchfield.
Oxford, 864 pp., £16.99, November 1996, 0 19 869126 2
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... Murder in the Cathedral) wrote If you make charges, Then in public I will refute them, and when Rebecca West wrote The case against most of them must have been so easily refuted that they could hardly rank at suspects, both writers could be assured that their use of refute was beyond reproach. At some point in the second half of the ...

Uneasy Listening

Paul Laity: ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, 8 July 2004

Germany Calling: A Personal Biography of William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ 
by Mary Kenny.
New Island, 300 pp., £17.99, November 2003, 1 902602 78 1
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Lord Haw-Haw: The English Voice of Nazi Germany 
by Peter Martland.
National Archives, 309 pp., £19.99, March 2003, 1 903365 17 1
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... people, in the charged atmosphere of the postwar months, seemed untroubled that he would hang. Rebecca West, reporting the trial for the New Yorker, was surprised at the equanimity with which the jury sent him to the gallows: they came back from considering their verdict ‘as if they had been out for a cup of tea’. At the start of the war, BBC ...

Devil take the hindmost

John Sutherland, 14 December 1995

Shadows of the Future: H.G. Wells, Science Fiction and Prophecy 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Liverpool, 170 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 85323 439 6
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The History of Mr Wells 
by Michael Foot.
Doubleday, 318 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 385 40366 6
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A Modern Utopia 
by H.G. Wells, edited by Krishan Kumar.
Everyman, 271 pp., £5.99, November 1994, 0 460 87498 5
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... contention that Wells could simultaneously and honestly love his wife and his young mistress Rebecca West (as well as any number of other young mistresses) is more palatable than Coren’s moralistic posturings about infidelity. And there are also things which Michael Foot chooses not to know. He wholly ignores, for instance, the Hedwig Grattingen ...

Costume Codes

David Trotter, 12 January 1995

Rebel Women: Feminism, Modernism and the Edwardian Novel 
by Jane Eldridge Miller.
Virago, 241 pp., £15.99, October 1994, 1 85381 830 5
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... described herself as the kind of New Woman people used to write about long ago, and her friend Rebecca West, who joined the staff of the Freewoman in 1911, as a prototype of the ‘Newest Woman’. The gap opens within The Unlit Lamp itself. For although the novel is radical in its acknowledgment of the Newest Woman, it is written from the point of ...

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