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Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels, 23 August 2001

... more than once in his column, ‘The World of Books’. And in a recent issue of the Guardian, Stephen Moss, that paper’s former literary editor, has asked: ‘Why do Rushdie, McEwan, Barnes and Amis still dominate Britain’s literary scene?’ Without so much as a flutter of irony, Moss quotes an anonymous ...

Nice Thoughts

Francis Gooding: Beaks and Talons, 21 February 2019

The Wonderful Mr Willughby: The First True Ornithologist 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 353 pp., £25, May 2018, 978 1 4088 7848 4
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Mrs Moreau’s Warbler: How Birds Got Their Names 
by Stephen Moss.
Faber, 357 pp., £16.99, February 2018, 978 1 78335 090 2
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... was a fern-owl, and the green woodpecker a woodspite. The history of bird names is the subject of Stephen Moss’s Mrs Moreau’s Warbler. It seems that some common bird names are very ancient indeed. The cuckoo is recorded in England by that name as far back as the 13th century, in the medieval round known as ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’, where it appears ...

I want to be her clothes

Kevin Kopelson: Kate Moss, 20 December 2012

Kate: The Kate Moss Book 
by Kate Moss, edited by Fabien Baron, Jess Hallett and Jefferson Hack.
Rizzoli, 368 pp., £50, November 2012, 978 0 8478 3790 8
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... For Pater, physical lust and spiritual ambition are opposites. The other exception is Kate Moss. Consider this description of her by Dennis Freedman, former creative director of the American magazine W: Kate has been our muse – ours and our photographers’ – for the simple reason that there are so many aspects to Kate’s personality. She’s a ...


Dinah Birch, 19 January 1989

Cat’s Eye 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 421 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0304 4
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by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 103 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 224 02303 9
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John Dollar 
by Marianne Wiggins.
Secker, 234 pp., £10.95, February 1989, 0 436 57080 7
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Broken Words 
by Helen Hodgman.
Virago, 121 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 9781853810107
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... she might as easily have been a scientist, like her father (an entomologist) or her brother Stephen (an astrophysicist). She shares her father’s despairing ecological awareness, together with her brother’s logically detached interest in the nature of time. Both concerns are evoked in childhood memories of strenuous field trips in the Canadian ...

At Camden Arts Centre

Martha Barratt: ‘The Botanical Mind’, 22 April 2021

... accompanying podcast series covers plant intelligence, the Amazon pharmacopeia and ecologist Stephen Harding’s concept of ‘Gaia alchemy’, which seeks to access the intelligence of the earth through meditation and shamanic ritual. To address the climate disaster, Harding urges, we first have to heal the split between science and rationality. One of ...


Stephen Smith: In Medellín, 21 May 1998

... of Bruce Grobelaar and the others at Winchester Crown Court, the judge’s limo drawing past Moss Bros at the end of each day’s proceedings, the flashier barristers chatting up local girls in the wine bars. Maurio wasn’t big on soccer but he liked talking about Princess Diana. He didn’t believe any of the conspiracy theories about her death. ‘The ...

Funny Mummy

E.S. Turner, 2 December 1982

The Penguin Stephen Leacock 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 527 pp., £2.95, October 1981, 0 14 005890 7
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Jerome K. Jerome: A Critical Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Orbis, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85613 349 3
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Three Men in a Boat 
by Jerome K. Jerome, annotated and introduced by Christopher Matthew and Benny Green.
Joseph, 192 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 907516 08 4
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The Lost Stories of W.S. Gilbert 
edited by Peter Haining.
Robson, 255 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 86051 200 2
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... Stephen Leacock, the English-born, Canadian-reared humorist, has a single entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations: ‘Lord Ronald ... flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions’ (1911). Innumerable speakers, writers and politicians have helped themselves to this very serviceable joke; Leacock himself, writing in old age, used it without acknowledgment to illustrate a scientific disquisition ...

Manly Love

John Bayley, 28 January 1993

Walt Whitman: From Moon to Starry Night 
by Philip Callow.
Allison and Busby, 394 pp., £19.99, October 1992, 0 85031 908 0
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The Double Life of Stephen Crane 
by Christopher Benfey.
Deutsch, 294 pp., £17.99, February 1993, 0 233 98820 3
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... substitute, an alternative in spirituality. Quite the reverse. Whitman and James, just as much as Stephen Crane and Hemingway, helped the liberation of American literature into physicality, inspired by but growing away from the Emersonian traditions of Puritan New England. Poe, whom Whitman met when they were fellow editors of small-time papers, was doing the ...

It’s the Poor …

Malcolm Bull, 26 January 1995

The Ruin of Kasch 
by Roberto Calasso, translated by William Weaver and Stephen Sartarelli.
Carcanet, 385 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 85635 713 8
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... facts, quotations, and recollections like so many stones that are held together only by their moss. Utterly lacking in coherence and consistency, it ranges from lulling gentleness to cruel, sharp insights.’ The Ruin of Kasch is not pure bricolage, however. Calasso may move effortlessly from Pol Pot to Goethe, or from discussion of the Vedas to Richard ...


Tom Paulin: Summer in Donegal, 16 September 1999

... the remains of a lower wall running up against it, making the corner of a rectangle. I pull away moss and earth, and find a stone-paved floor, the hazel bushes growing up through it. I want it to be a fort or an ancient lookout, in line with the crannog, the tiny island fort, in the estuary below, but the fact it’s not circular, the way it’s set into the ...


Michael Neve, 3 September 1981

The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas de Quincey 
by Grevel Lindop.
Dent, 433 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 460 04358 7
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... Mrs de Quincey withdrew Thomas from the school. The reasons for this are obscure, although Leslie Stephen, in his entry for the Dictionary of National Biography, stresses that she felt Thomas had become ‘vain’ in his learning. It was clearly a damaging thing to do, and may have contributed to de Quincey’s opting, in his mature prose style, for the ...

Wounding Nonsenses

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1997

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 531 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 340 63804 4
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... VI ‘will go into history as the most disastrous my unhappy country has known since Matilda and Stephen’. The new Queen has already been seen in slacks. And the French revenge themselves on their liberators by sending camembert made from United Nations milk powder which turns to chalk and moss without ever ...

British Facts

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 September 1985

Social Trends 15 
edited by Deo Ramprakash.
HMSO, 208 pp., £19.95, January 1985, 0 11 620102 9
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State of the World 1984: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress toward a Sustainable Society 
by Lester Brown.
Norton, 252 pp., £7.95, December 1984, 0 393 30176 1
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The Facts of Everyday Life 
by Tony Osman.
Faber, 160 pp., £6.95, April 1985, 0 571 13513 7
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The State of the Nation: An Atlas of Britain in the Eighties 
by Stephen Fothergill and Jill Vincent, edited by Michael Kidron.
Heinemann/Pan, 128 pp., £12.50, May 1985, 0 435 35288 1
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British Social Attitudes: The 1985 Report 
edited by Roger Jowell and Sharon Witherspoon.
Gower, 260 pp., £18.50, July 1985, 9780566007385
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... owned by some individuals without apparently realising that 70 thousand acres of hill and peat moss may not be very profitable investments. The book is more convincing on the concentrations of business power in London, a feature well established since the mid-19th century, and on the well-known system of media chains of ownership. ‘Wealth is very ...

I am an irregular verb

Margaret Anne Doody: Laetitia Pilkington, 22 January 1998

Memoirs of Laetitia Pilkington 
edited by A.C. Elias.
Georgia, 348497 pp., £84.95, May 1997, 0 8203 1719 5
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... her Hair, though naturally fine, being quite matted ... seemed to be a Composition of raw Silk and Moss, such as I remember to have stolen a Lock of from the Head of Good Duke Humphry, at St Albans, three hundred Years after his Death. This has the poetic touch of the Augustan age in its evocation of the sensuously disgusting; the hair becomes a subject in ...

Merely a Warning that a Noun is Coming

Bee Wilson: The ‘Littlehampton Libels’, 8 February 2018

The Littlehampton Libels: A Miscarriage of Justice and a Mystery about Words in 1920s England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 256 pp., £30, June 2017, 978 0 19 879965 8
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... throwing one of the letters into the garden her family shared with their neighbours. Gladys Moss, the policewoman, was keeping watch on Swan through a slit in a garden shed when she saw her throw a folded piece of buff-coloured paper in the direction of the Mays’ house. The paper was addressed to ‘fucking old whore May, 49, Western Rd, Local’. As ...

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