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Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet: The life of Oscar Wilde, 5 February 1998

The Wilde Album 
by Merlin Holland.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85702 782 5
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Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art 
by Julia Prewitt Brown.
Virginia, 157 pp., $30, September 1997, 9780813917283
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The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde 
edited by Peter Raby.
Cambridge, 307 pp., £37.50, October 1997, 9780521474719
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Wilde The Novel 
by Stefan Rudnicki.
Orion, 215 pp., £5.99, October 1997, 0 7528 1160 6
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Oscar Wilde 
by Frank Harris.
Robinson, 358 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 1 85487 126 9
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Moab is my Washpot 
by Stephen Fry.
Hutchinson, 343 pp., £16.99, October 1997, 0 09 180161 3
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Nothing … except My Genius 
by Oscar Wilde.
Penguin, 82 pp., £2.99, October 1997, 0 14 043693 6
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... shows a phalanx of unpainted male prostitutes, leaning on some railings. Watching for a cab, Stephen Fry’s Wilde makes eye contact with one of them. ‘Looking for someone?’ asks the lad (identified as ‘Rent-boy’ in the closing credits), and Fry stares helplessly across the street. Gilbert does all he can ...

Sonic Foam

Ian Penman: On Kate Bush, 17 April 2014

... for concept albums full of ‘great mates’ from the 1970s; songs about Bigfoot and snowmen and Stephen Fry reciting daffy gibberish; unadventurous marking-time remixes of old material. Someone, in sum, who displayed every symptom of having let zero new music into his manor house for twenty or thirty years. I’m not convinced our huffy Rock Bloke ...

Short Cuts

James Francken: The Booker Prize shortlist, 2 November 2000

... 4’s Late Night Poker, seated at the table with Anthony Holden, Patrick Marber, Al Alvarez and Stephen Fry. It was a close, colourful game – Holden was the wiliest of the players and picked up seven grand. The stakes will be higher on Booker night, but it’s hard to imagine that Channel 4’s live broadcast from Guildhall will be as much ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Alice in Wonderland’, 25 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland 
directed by Tim Burton.
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... the film seem a little more conventional than it otherwise might. Alan Rickman is the Caterpillar, Stephen Fry is the Cheshire Cat, Timothy Spall is a bloodhound who seems to have dropped in from another movie. The fun of the thing becomes a little stronger than the threat of the thing, and there is a rather dogged narrative logic to the whole structure ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The United States v. Billie Holiday’, 18 March 2021

... on Drugs (2015), which was published with blurbs from Elton John, Noam Chomsky, Piers Morgan and Stephen Fry, not exactly a ready-made support group. It has a chapter on Anslinger and Holiday. Hari suggests that the kind of argument I have quoted from the file was an aside – though it sounds to me rather more like an official line that no one bothered ...

The Exploding Harpoon

Kathleen Jamie: Whales, 8 August 2013

The Sea Inside 
by Philip Hoare.
Fourth Estate, 374 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 0 00 741211 2
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... all 135 chapters of Melville’s book being read, a chapter a day, by people as different as Stephen Fry, Tilda Swinton, even David Cameron, as well as ordinary folk. The Sea Inside is most at ease when, again, he is in the company of whales. Companionable and entertaining, the book follows the recent fashion for combining ...


Ian Sansom, 11 December 1997

The Bounty 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 78 pp., £14.99, July 1997, 0 571 19130 4
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... is usually acceptable only if it goes hand in hand with breeding (whence the popularity of Stephen Fry). Walcott does not fit the bill: he’s an outsider and an overreacher and his work betrays a definite lack of cool; it sparkles and it shines. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a 1936 recording of Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb and ...


Jenny Diski: In Defence of Liz Jones, 12 September 2013

... early morning growl, which by midday had developed into a thundering chorus of virtuous wrath. Stephen Fry had reported that during a recent depressive episode he’d tried to commit suicide by overdosing on drink and drugs. It was universally agreed that a famous person revealing their own clinical despair could only be helpful to the anonymous ...


Elisa Segrave: Is this what it’s like to be famous?, 11 May 1995

... only had a few hours’ sleep. I’m hysterical. Is this what it’s like to be famous? No wonder Stephen Fry tried to escape across the Channel. The woman in charge of the television programme rings up. Would I be prepared to take a phone-in from women suffering from breast cancer? I say I’m not too keen on the idea as I’m not medically qualified ...


Jenny Diski: Alastair Campbell’s Dodgy Novel, 6 November 2008

All in the Mind 
by Alastair Campbell.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £17.99, November 2008, 978 0 09 192578 9
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... at least as far as I’m concerned, have to settle for the praise – printed on the jacket – of Stephen Fry (‘a trademark assured elegance . . . devastating penetration of the human mind . . . A brilliant debut novel’) and Anne Robinson (‘It is an unexpected pleasure to discover that Alastair Campbell can tell a tale quite so ...

Born to Lying

Theo Tait: Le Carré, 3 December 2015

John le Carré: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Bloomsbury, 652 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 2792 5
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... the public author: his successes, his reviews, his celebrity friendships (with Alec Guinness and Stephen Fry), his celebrity spats (with Salman Rushdie). There is little about his son from his second marriage, Nicholas (who writes as Nick Harkaway), and practically nothing about his relationships with his three sons from the first marriage. We’re told ...

The Magic Trousers

Matt Foot: Police Racism, 7 February 2019

Behind the Blue Line: My Fight against Racism and Discrimination in the Police 
by Gurpal Virdi.
Biteback, 299 pp., £20, March 2018, 978 1 78590 321 2
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... he decided to make a submission to Sir William Macpherson’s inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It was this inquiry that led to the charge that there was ‘institutional racism’ in the Met. After Virdi’s reinstatement in 2000, he was unsurprisingly overlooked for promotion until finally he retired from the police in 2012. In 2014, a ...

Wild Hearts

Peter Wollen, 6 April 1995

Virginia Woolf 
by James King.
Hamish Hamilton, 699 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 241 13063 8
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... to the Utilitarians or the Pre-Raphaelites, both of which, in fact, had direct links with the Stephen family. Williams contrasted the Bloomsbury Group with the Godwin circle of the 1780s and 1790s, which he saw as a genuinely oppositional group, whose ‘rational and civilising proposals’ were ‘met by the crudest kind of ...

Francis and Vanessa

Peter Campbell, 15 March 1984

Francis Bacon 
by Michel Leiris, translated by John Weightman.
Phaidon, 271 pp., £50, September 1983, 0 7148 2218 3
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Vanessa Bell 
by Frances Spalding.
Weidenfeld, 399 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 0 297 78162 6
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The Omega Workshops 
by Judith Collins.
Secker, 310 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 436 10562 4
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The Omega Workshops 1913-1919: Decorative Arts of Bloomsbury 
Crafts Council, 96 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 903798 72 7Show More
The Omega Workshops: Alliance and Enmity in English Art 1911-1920 
Anthony d’Offay Gallery, 80 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 947564 00 4Show More
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... studies to start chomping through the Omega files and spinning a story from them. Omega was Roger Fry’s creation. The Omega style was a response to Post-Impressionism. Fry not only organised the 1910 and 1912 Post-Impressionist exhibitions, he invented the very name. He was a publicist of genius. The workshops would not ...

At the NPG

Jean McNicol: ‘Virginia Woolf’, 11 September 2014

... obscured, but the poses are characteristic. In 1931 Woolf agreed to sit for Bell and the sculptor Stephen Tomlin, ‘pinning me there, from 2 to 4 on 6 afternoons, to be looked at; & I felt like a piece of whalebone bent. This amused & interested me, at the same time I foamed with rage.’ In the resulting sculpture she looks alarmed and alarming, with ...

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