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Elementary

John Sutherland

8 July 1993
Air and Fire 
by Rupert Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 310 pp., £15.99, April 1993, 0 7475 1382 1
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Dreams of Leaving 
by Rupert Thomson.
Penguin, 435 pp., £6.99, April 1993, 0 14 017148 7
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The Five Gates of Hell 
by Rupert Thomson.
Penguin, 368 pp., £5.99, March 1992, 0 14 016537 1
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... In order to write this book, I had to do a great deal of research,’ Rupert Thomson tells us; the research for Air and Fire evidently took two forms. The narrative centres on the quixotic attempt by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel to build a modernist cathedral, based on the Tower’s logical steel geometry ...

I even misspell intellectual

Rupert Thomson: Gordon v. O’Connor

2 April 2020
The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon 
edited by Christine Flanagan.
Georgia, 272 pp., £31.95, October 2018, 978 0 8203 5408 8
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... According​ to one of her cousins, Mary Flannery O’Connor was ‘a very peculiar child’. When she was six, she drew countless pictures of chickens. To discourage classmates from sharing her lunch, she would sometimes take castor oil sandwiches to school. Her own recollection of herself is characteristically acerbic: ‘a pigeon-toed only child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I’ll-bite-you complex ...

The screams were silver

Adam Mars-Jones: Rupert Thomson

25 April 2013
Secrecy 
by Rupert Thomson.
Granta, 312 pp., £14.99, March 2013, 978 1 84708 163 6
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... Where Jim Crace’s Harvest refused all the conventions of the historical novel, Rupert Thomson’s Secrecy seems to run eagerly towards them, and yet the effect once again is of a genre being unpicked and rewoven.* A superabundance of signposts, it turns out, can be as disorienting as their absolute absence ...

I’m a Cahunian

Adam Mars-Jones: Claude Cahun

2 August 2018
Never Anyone But You 
by Rupert Thomson.
Corsair, 340 pp., £18.99, June 2018, 978 1 4721 5350 0
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... Rupert Thomson’s​ new novel follows the contours of a remarkable life. Lucy Schwob, born in 1894 to a cultured and prosperous Nantes family, moved to Paris in 1920, where she developed strong links with the Surrealist movement and adopted the name Claude Cahun. Though she produced work in a number of media, and in her lifetime was known as a writer, she is now remembered for her photographic self-portraits, mainly taken in the 1920s, which stage her in various personae (aviator, buddha, doll, angel ...
15 April 1982
... many millions of pounds in the past decade. Four enormous corporations – headed by the late Roy Thomson, Rupert Murdoch, Robert Anderson and ‘Tiny’ Rowland – have been involved in their rescue. And without the intervention of firms of this size, these papers would already be dead. It is unlikely, however, that giant ...
28 January 1993
Rupert Murdoch 
by William Shawcross.
Chatto, 616 pp., £18.99, September 1992, 0 7011 8451 5
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... Lord Beaverbrook seemed to me an infinitely preferable version of the genus than, say, Lord Thomson, who originally regarded owning newspapers and radio stations as no different from owning profitable toothpaste factories or fast-food chains. Though he altered that view later, it was not in the direction of greater interference with editorial ...

Lucky Lad

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Harold Evans

17 December 2009
My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times – An Autobiography 
by Harold Evans.
Little, Brown, 515 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 1 4087 0203 1
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... on the war reversed: a warning of how little editorial independence can mean in practice, as Rupert Murdoch would be the first to agree. Then they went sharply downmarket, to keep company with the rampant Mail. By 1930, the two had merged as the News Chronicle, and by 1960 that sad survivor was itself folded, ironically enough, into the Mail. There was ...

Memoriousness

E.S. Turner

15 September 1988
Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... correspondent, had hoped to become editor of the Times in succession to William ReesMogg, when Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper. Heren was told that, at 61, he was too old. Under Harold Evans he failed to flourish (‘Evans trashes me, to use the US Army expression, and most of my former colleagues in his book Good Times, Bad Times’), so he took his ...

A Different Sort of Tory

Ronald Stevens: Max Hastings

12 December 2002
Editor: An Inside Story of Newspapers 
by Max Hastings.
Macmillan, 398 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 333 90837 6
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... them into successful popular papers and became Lord Beaverbrook in the process. In the 1950s Roy Thomson bought Kemsley Newspapers, added the Times to his empire in 1966, and was similarly rewarded with a seat in the House of Lords. Conrad Black came on the scene in the spring of 1985, paid £10 million for a minority stake in the Telegraph Group, and later ...
28 September 1989
... dismemberings. Methuen (which celebrates its centenary in 1989) was sold in 1987 to International Thomson, who broke it up, selling the general and children’s list to Paul Hamlyn’s Octopus, itself subsequently acquired by Reed International. Methuen’s academic books remained with Thomson, who now bring them out under ...

Diary

Norman Buchan: In Defence of the Word

1 October 1987
... the Press Council. Both these comments were made about the recent takeover of Today newspaper by Rupert Murdoch. Unbelievably, the first came from a speech in the House of Commons in defence of the takeover. Stripped of the technical and financial arguments that would have accompanied a reference up to the Monopolies Commission, the Government case was ...
13 May 1993
Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... a whiff of Mr Scott’s attempts to merge the Guardian with the Astor Times and later with the Thomson Times. It was long after the event that I learned how Richard Scott, Laurance’s cousin and the chairman of the Scott Trust, flew to London from Washington on what my old employers would have called a ‘mercy mission’ to save us from being sold into ...
19 February 1987
The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... of the game (to be bent, broken and ignored) and the ferocity of the play remained the same. Roy Thomson, benign among proprietors, has come and gone, picking up a peerage in the process. So has Victor Matthews, moving from building-site to Fleet Street and out again in less than ten years. The free or cut-price offers of dictionaries and flower-pots in the ...

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