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Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes, 18 June 1998

Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... enough not to encourage laziness or dilettantism . . . say £150 to £300 a year’. And Simon Armitage, in 1998, seems to agree that now and then a bit of poverty can keep a writer on his toes. ‘At some points in my life it’s suited me to be skint,’ he says. ‘Poetry is connected with the root conditions of being alive, and one aspect of that ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Being a critic, 27 May 1999

... first chance in that pub. A few of the celebrants are, or have been, English dons – John Fuller, Simon Gray, Dan Jacobson; but even they arrived by what might be called the bohemian route. There are of course other ways in; anybody can see how much space the dons occupy in the respectable papers and magazines. Many moved in by routes that did not necessarily ...

We were the Lambert boys

Paul Driver, 22 May 1986

The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... on Richard Shead’s excellent critical biography, currently unavailable, issued in 1973 by Simon Publications, London. Motion admits his debt in the Acknowledgements, but virtually nothing we are told hasn’t stemmed from Shead; the narrative sequence is reduplicated (Motion’s account of Constant’s first marriage, for instance, follows Shead’s ...

Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... first one, then the other, became party leader. Simply through losing his seat in 1931 Herbert Morrison slipped out of the running. The post-war Attlee Government missed a golden opportunity to restructure British society: nothing is more certain than that Morrison would have done no better. So the wearisome catalogue ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments, 31 October 2002

Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... hostility of rate-payers and fell in 1907 to the Conservatives, who ran the Council until Herbert Morrison mobilised his London Labour caucus in the 1930s. Gradually, however, the depopulation of London and growth of suburbs in Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Essex fatally undermined the LCC. By 1961, the population under its jurisdiction had fallen to its 1871 ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Dr Macgregor’s Diagnosis, 3 March 2011

... NHS always cry out against the past. They see only ugliness and failure, never success, and, like Simon Jenkins writing in the Guardian last month, they seem content to throw out the baby, the bathwater, the taps, along with the reservoir supplying the taps. Jenkins is right when he says there are too many back-office staff in the NHS, but this isn’t his ...
A Word from the Loki 
by Maurice Riordan.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, January 1995, 0 571 17364 0
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After the Deafening 
by Gerard Woodward.
Chatto, 64 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 7011 6271 6
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The Ice-Pilot Speaks 
by Pauline Stainer.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £6.95, October 1994, 1 85224 298 1
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The Angel of History 
by Carolyn Forché.
Bloodaxe, 96 pp., £7.95, November 1994, 1 85224 307 4
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The Neighbour 
by Michael Collier.
Chicago, 74 pp., £15.95, January 1995, 0 226 11358 2
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Jubilation 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 64 pp., £6.99, March 1995, 0 19 282451 1
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... In a recent radio programme, Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell, two of the most prominent of the New Generation poets, retraced the journey undertaken by Auden and MacNeice in Letters From Iceland – a sign of the renewed interest which younger poets are showing in the poetry of the Thirties. Although Yeats and Eliot were publishing some of their greatest poems during the Thirties, it was Auden who created the style which most of his contemporaries sought to imitate, and it is Auden, more than Yeats or Eliot, who is influencing younger poets today ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland, 16 August 1990

Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... early Sixties, while doing his national service in Puerto Rico. The manuscript was submitted to Simon and Schuster, where Robert Gottlieb, after dickering for two years, eventually turned it down in 1966. By 1969 Toole was an English instructor at Dominican University, working in his spare time on his PhD. A modest academic career seemed likely. But Toole ...

Millom

Alan Hollinghurst, 18 February 1982

Sea to the West 
by Norman Nicholson.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1981, 0 571 11729 5
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Out for the Elements 
by Andrew Waterman.
Carcanet, 151 pp., £3.95, October 1981, 0 85635 377 9
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Between Here and Now 
by R.S. Thomas.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 333 32186 3
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Poetry Introduction Five 
Faber, 121 pp., £5.25, January 1982, 0 571 11793 7Show More
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... are at a stage when a synthesis of influence and individuality is taking place. The poems of Blake Morrison are the most agile in this respect. He remains extremely private behind his deployment of several different modes; he is very controlled and his poems seem the artifice, knowingly intermeshed, of a considerable critical experience. In this sense he often ...

The company he keeps

C.H. Sisson, 6 August 1981

Experiences of an Optimist 
by John Redcliffe-Maud.
Hamish Hamilton, 199 pp., £10.95, July 1981, 0 241 10569 2
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... portraits of those with whom his varied career brought him into contact. He is no Saint-Simon, even of the smallest size; he shows no sign of entering incisively into the motives of those he observes, any more than into his own. And since the ‘few bits of contemporary history’ he ‘knew at first hand’ are treated in so personal a vein, there ...

Turning down O’Hanlon

Mark Ford, 7 December 1989

In Trouble Again: A Journey between the Orinoco and the Amazon 
by Redmond O’Hanlon.
Penguin, 368 pp., £3.99, October 1989, 0 14 011900 0
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Our Grandmothers’ Drums: A Portrait of Rural African Life and Culture 
by Mark Hudson.
Secker, 356 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 436 20959 4
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Borderlines: A Journey in Thailand and Burma 
by Charles Nicholl.
Secker, 320 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 436 30980 7
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... O’Hanlon’s entreaties. In the end he is forced to make do with a photographer friend called Simon Stockton, whose only claim to literary eminence is to have been in the same class at school as Martin Amis. But here O’Hanlon sees his angle. Stockton runs a seedy casino in Kensington, and as a photographer specialises in the nude pin-up. His darkroom ...

Last Leader

Neal Ascherson, 7 June 1984

Citizen Ken 
by John Carvel.
Chatto, 240 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 3929 3
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... way ... The hunter-gatherer is what humanity is.’ So far, so Fourier, or Rousseau or St-Simon. The most interesting question about state-of-nature utopian thinkers is where they insert the Fall and what they consider to have played the serpent. Ken Livingstone has no doubts. It was the introduction of agriculture, the Neolithic revolution ‘twenty ...

Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy, 4 March 1999

Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... be surprised by the sequel. Presented with a sensational document and an urgent need for secrecy, Simon and Schuster posted a proof copy to Roudedge at the Independent on Sunday’s office in the House of Commons, which wouldn’t have mattered if Routledge hadn’t left the paper a year earlier to join the Mirror. The envelope was opened and its contents ...

Diary

Marina Warner: Medea, 3 December 2015

... film (1969), Fiona Shaw in Deborah Warner’s production (2001), and among writers, Toni Morrison, who slants the myth through her novel Beloved (1987), as does Marina Carr more directly in her play By the Bog of Cats (1998), which is set in a traveller community in Ireland. Rachel Cusk’s take on Euripides’ Medea, commissioned for the Almeida by ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... Cromwell’, the narrator will let rip with a great urban set-piece, like something out of Arthur Morrison, Jack London or George Gissing: a bare-knuckle boxing contest (‘happy unhealthy faces glowing with meaty grease, panatella smoke’), breakfast in a Formica-table caff, a phantasmagoric binge in a Tufnell Hill windmill – which becomes an encore for ...

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