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Robert Blake

18 December 1980
Harold NicolsonA Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson​ Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... really justified, he will find his doubts quickly resolved. The publication of Mr Lees-Milne’s book coincides with that of a condensed version of Nicolson’s diaries 1939-64, skilfully edited by StanleyOlson. The original diary preserved in Balliol College runs to three million words. In 1966-68 Nigel Nicolson produced a three-volume edition based partly on the diaries and partly on his father’s ...

Dame Cissie

Penelope Fitzgerald

12 November 1987
Rebecca West: A Life 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 297 79084 6
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Family Memories 
by Rebecca West and Faith Evans.
Virago, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86068 741 4
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... The divisions are helpful, though rather like breakwaters trying to hold back a high tide. It is a fine biography, which for several reasons can’t have been easy to write. To start with, StanleyOlson, who became a friend of Dame Rebecca’s in 1974, was entrusted with the full-length Life. To conform with this, Victoria Glendinning decided to cut down on the later years. Rebecca lived to be ...

On Michael O’Brien

August Kleinzahler: Michael O’Brien

16 February 2017
... Chambers Street ends in rain. Civic Fame’s gold laurel catches the eye, but the day damps down. The man who lives in Warren Street settles in his duck blind. Four men stand like empties outside the Stanley Employment Agency. A television set left on in a shop tips its huge alphabet into the street. It is not speech but the parts of speech. Likeness joins what was separate, then the unwanted information ...

The Man in the Clearing

Iain Sinclair: Meeting Gary Snyder

24 May 2012
... in a letter to Snyder. The poets on their far-flung travels, their neurotic migrations, kept in touch with anecdotal letters, discussions of craft and influence. When Welch corresponded with Charles Olson, on the East Coast, he told him that he had ‘finally taken to the woods, I hope for ever’. Like Snyder, he kept a gun. There was a bad moment when his companion in solitude, a cat called Stanley ...

The Coat in Question

Iain Sinclair: Margate

20 March 2003
All the Devils Are Here 
by David Seabrook.
Granta, 192 pp., £7.99, March 2003, 9781862075597
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... yawn of Middle Street, Deal is ‘where escapism ends up’. Seabrook’s special subject is the ‘areal’, as proposed by the geographer Carl Sauer (a great favourite of that poet of place Charles Olson). Sauer, like Seabrook, deals in awkward particulars, grit under the eyelid. Areal is what you finish up with when there’s no way out, economically, emotionally, spiritually – with Connex and ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames

25 June 2009
Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... in Cambridge Modernism, contacts and alliances with New York poets, slim volumes put out by Andrew Crozier’s Ferry Press, Ackroyd knew more than enough about the glittering particulars of Charles Olson and William Carlos Williams to give them their due, while gliding effortlessly in another direction. One of the characters in The Great Fire of London calms his rising panic by swimming lap after lap ...

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