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ODQ

Richard Usborne, 24 January 1980

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 
Oxford, 908 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780192115607Show More
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... First the bad news. They have printed the Mgr Ronald Knox limerick as above. I am not going to look at the Baring-Gould book to see if the mistake was primarily his. But surely the proper Knox version made sense, and went something like Evangelical vicar in want Of a second-hand portable font,   Would exchange for the same   A portrait (in frame) Of the Bishop-Elect of Vermont ...

Diary

Richard Usborne: On Cutting P.G. Wodehouse, 4 October 1984

... I have had, as a holiday task, to cut the sixty-five-thousand-word P.G. Wodehouse novel Quick Service, published in 1940, down to about twenty-five thousand words for a BBC Radio Book at Bedtime. Ten periods of 14 minutes, nine of them to start with a minute or so of re-cap of earlier chapters, and all except the last to end, preferably, at a gasp-moment, to encourage listeners to switch on again tomorrow night ...

Unarmed Combat

Richard Usborne, 21 April 1988

The Anglo-French Clash in Lebanon and Syria, 1940-1945 
by A.B. Gaunson.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £29.50, March 1987, 0 333 40221 9
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Personal Patchwork 1939-1945 
by Bryan Guinness.
Cygnet, 260 pp., £9.50, March 1987, 0 907435 06 8
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Staff Officer: The Diaries of Lord Moyne 1914-1918 
edited by Brian Bond.
Leo Cooper, 256 pp., £17.50, October 1987, 0 85052 053 3
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... When France fell in the summer of 1940, practically all Arabs of the Levant were sure that the Axis would win the war. This would probably free their countries, Syria and Lebanon, from the French mandates under which they had lived resentfully since 1920. But then an Italian Armistice Commission turned up in Beirut (one of its members brought his grand piano ...

‘Turbot, sir,’ said the waiter

E.S. Turner, 4 April 1991

After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse 
by Richard Usborne.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £15.99, February 1991, 0 09 174712 0
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... in After Hours with P.G. Wodehouse. Readers of this journal may recall a Diary by Richard Usborne (LRB, 4 October 1984) in which a determined investigation into the origins of Wodehouse’s use of ‘exquisite Tanagra figurine’ led to an evocation of the days when cut-price Boeotian coroplasts cluttered the shops of St Tropez. That ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... In 1950 a venerable, once highly successful, long-ailing magazine quietly expired. Richard Usborne, the assistant editor in its dying days, later recalled an aficionado’s touching reaction. ‘When the Strand finally folded in 1950, my old sixth-form master wrote to me regretfully: “I loved the dear old Strand ...

Nothing nasty in the woodshed

John Bayley, 25 October 1990

Yours, Plum: The Letters of P.G. Wodehouse 
edited by Frances Donaldson.
Hutchinson, 269 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 09 174639 6
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... seem to have been both immediate and final, like the effects in his own books. In 1956 he reminded Richard Usborne, author of Clubland Heroes, of the source of a quotation. Smiling, the boy fell dead. Mr Usborne, really! I thought everyone knew Robert Browning’s poem ‘An Incident in the French Camp’. Young ...

Wodehouse in America

D.A.N. Jones, 20 May 1982

P.G. Wodehouse: A Literary Biography 
by Benny Green.
Joseph, 256 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 907516 04 1
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Wodehouse on Wodehouse: Bring on the girls (with Guy Bolton), Performing Flea, Over Seventy 
Penguin, 655 pp., £2.95, September 1981, 0 14 005245 3Show More
P.G. Wodehouse: An Illustrated Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Eel Pie, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 0 906008 44 1
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P.G. Wodehouse: A Centenary Celebration 1881-1981 
edited by James Heineman and Donald Bensen.
Oxford, 197 pp., £40, February 1982, 0 19 520357 7
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The World of P.G. Wodehouse 
by Herbert Warren Wind.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 09 145670 3
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... some of them lazily written but four of them, at least, rather good. Three of the four are by Richard Usborne, the king of the traditional Wodehouse buffs. The other is by Benny Green, the new broom. Oxford University and the Pierpont Morgan Library are both relevant to Wodehouse’s life. He did not attend a university, though he would have liked ...

The First Hundred Years

James Buchan, 24 August 1995

John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... hardest to acquire. It was touch and go. He died in 1940, just before the British Empire. In 1953, Richard Usborne published a book called Clubland Heroes, which expanded some of the criticisms made of John Buchan in the Thirties: that he was snobbish, blimpish, mildly anti-semitic and a worshipper of worldly success. What infuriated his widow was ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... Between​ the wars, the journalist Richard Usborne recalled in 1953, there was a feeling that John Buchan was good for you. ‘If not exactly the author set for homework, Buchan was certainly strongly recommended to the schoolboy by parent, uncle, guardian, pastor and master,’ he wrote in Clubland Heroes, a study of the thrillers he had enjoyed as a child ...

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