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Thomas Jones: 10,860 novels

23 August 2001
... lull’. Since, then, Robert McCrum, the literary editor of the Observer, has discussed the question more than once in his column, ‘The World of Books’. And in a recent issue of the Guardian, StephenMoss, 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 ...

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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... a Manx shearwater; the puffin familiar to us was called by them the coulterneb, while the nightjar was a fern-owl, and the green woodpecker a woodspite. The history of bird names is the subject of StephenMoss’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 ...

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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... and how would they be troubled by this beauty, into which the soul with all its maladies has passed. 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 ...


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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... Here she speculates on the association between parallel pursuits – science and art. Elaine is a painter; 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 ...


Stephen​ Smith: In Medellín

21 May 1998
... a spread-bet following his error. It made me think, with unexpected tenderness, of the match-fixing trials 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 ...

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 ...

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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... way. A kind of sublimation was involved in both cases, although in neither does the word suggest a 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 ...
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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... rummaging in his own memory that stirred up shadows among the ruins of time ... The prose juxtaposes 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 ...


Tom Paulin: Summer in Donegal

16 September 1999
... of dressed stone, large thin flat slabs, no mortar, but packed with small stones to bind them. Then 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 ...


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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... started to reveal genuine linguistic powers while at the local grammar school. At this very moment, 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 ...
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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... town of ineffable horror’. All that he has foreseen is now happening in Britain. The reign of George 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 ...

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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... Who, which do not seem of great significance, and they draw a map revealing the large Highland estates 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 ...

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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... the washing house. A still more devastating piece of evidence was that Swan had been seen by a policewoman 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 ...

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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... Comb, except when she made free with mine, than which nothing could be more offensive to me, so that 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 ...

A Use for the Stones

Jacqueline Rose: On Being Nadine Gordimer

20 April 2006
Get a Life 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 187 pp., £16.99, November 2005, 0 7475 8175 4
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... of Nelson Mandela. She once sued a writer for claiming that she promoted the violent overthrow of the state, but in 1988, she appeared as a witness at the trial of Mosiuoa Lekota, Popo Molefe and Moss Chikane, stating under cross-examination – and to gasps from the gallery – that she supported Umkhonto we Sizwe, the ANC’s armed wing. Terrorism was, she wrote in a 1960s essay called ‘The ...

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