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How to Hiss and Huff

Robert Alter: Mann’s Moses

2 December 2010
The Tables of the Law 
by Thomas Mann, translated by Marion Faber and Stephen Lehmann.
Haus, 113 pp., £10, October 2010, 978 1 906598 84 6
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... Thomas Mann wrote this engaging novella in a few weeks in 1943. (The new translation by Marion Faber and StephenLehmann, which is brisk and direct, is a welcome replacement of the fussier and less accurate English version done by Helen Lowe-Porter for the original publication.) The novella was written after Mann ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann

7 January 1999
John LehmannA Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... The first volume of John Lehmann’s autobiography, published in 1955, starts: When I try to remember where my education in poetry began, the first image that comes to mind is that of my father’s library at the old family home of ...

On the Feast of Stephen

Karl Miller: Spender’s Journals

30 August 2012
New Selected Journals, 1939-95 
by Stephen​ Spender and Lara Feigel, edited by John Sutherland.
Faber, 792 pp., £45, July 2012, 978 0 571 23757 9
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... Stephen Spender was a visitor to the city of Hamburg both before the war and after, when he played a part in the work of occupation and recovery. He was well on his way to being the noted ex-communist poet ...

Meringue-utan

Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments

8 August 2002
Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... Rosamond Lehmann was born the day after Queen Victoria’s funeral. When the First World War broke out she was 13, on holiday with her family on the Isle of Wight. The imminence of hostilities had put an end to a ...

A Conversation with Gore Vidal

Thomas Powers: Meeting Gore Vidal

30 July 2014
... subject: had Edel deliberately suppressed important evidence that Henry James was a homosexual, and if so, why? A complicated story. It happened that Vidal had information on this subject: both Stephen Spender and John Lehmann had been told by Hugh Walpole – in identical words, apparently – of an occasion mentioned by Edel. Walpole, then young, beautiful, and awed by the Master, had offered ...

Flings

Rosemary Hill: The Writers’ Blitz

21 February 2013
The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War 
by Lara Feigel.
Bloomsbury, 519 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3044 4
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... period of my life’. Lara Feigel unravels the tangled web, concentrating on the experiences of six novelists: Bowen, Graham Greene, Henry Yorke (who wrote as Henry Green), Rose Macaulay, Rosamond Lehmann and the Austrian émigrée Hilde Spiel. The combination of danger and novelty made the times ‘an absolute gift to the writer’, as Yorke put it to Lehmann: ‘Everything is breaking up.’ Amid ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive

10 June 1999
... who had ‘captured’ the Thirties. It was not, Waugh being Waugh, high praise. Auden he felt to be a mysterious cove comprehensible only to his pals (among whom Waugh did not number himself). Stephen Spender, Waugh declared, had been granted at birth all the fashionable literary neuroses but his fairy godmother ‘quite forgot the gift of literary skill’. (Once celebrated as the Shelley of the ...

Neglect

Ian Hamilton

26 January 1995
An Unmentionable Man 
by Edward Upward.
Enitharmon, 102 pp., £5.99, October 1994, 1 870612 64 7
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Journey to the Border 
by Edward Upward.
Enitharmon, 135 pp., £5.99, October 1994, 1 870612 59 0
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The Mortmere Stories 
by Christopher Isherwood and Edward Upward.
Enitharmon, 206 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 1 870612 69 8
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... story of Edward Upward’s new collection, a forgotten Marxist author of the Thirties dreams that he is approached by a present-day admirer, a ‘lecturer at a Yorkshire polytechnic’. At first Stephen Highwood is suspicious. He doesn’t expect people to know who he is. His books have long been out of print and are not to be found in public libraries. In surveys of modern literature, his name ...
7 May 1981
... gear’. In the Police Station our identity was again challenged: ‘Who are you?’ Spender and Grigson. (It happened that the previous day a national newspaper had given publicity to my brother Stephen in some sensationally farfetched connection with Guy Burgess, John Lehmann and other names they hoped to involve.) ‘Ah that rings a bell,’ and significant looks passed between uniformed men at ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: Queer British Art

6 September 2017
... texture that seems to signify most, as for example in the theatrical photographs of Angus McBean, who was jailed during the Second World War for his homosexuality. McBean’s 1937 portrait of Beatrix Lehmann twins the actress’s face with incongruous block and tackle, and frames this ‘surrealised’ arrangement with silk drapery. His 1941 study of Quentin Crisp is an astonishing instance of the ...

I am a cactus

John Sutherland: Christopher Isherwood and his boys

3 June 2004
Isherwood 
by Peter Parker.
Picador, 914 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 330 48699 3
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... Xtopher,’ Stephen Spender wrote in April 1931, ‘is a cactus.’ Prickly, solitary, self-sufficient, hard to handle and difficult to love. How to get to grips with ‘Isherwood’ (as he has chosen to address him ...
6 February 2014
Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
by David Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited by Katherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... James) and meets the love of his life, a unique Greek called Nikos Stangos. The boys were fascinated by Bloomsbury – the books, the people, the scarves, the gossip – which led them to venerate Stephen Spender as one of its last links. Squeezed into a narrow bed, they would read Spender’s World within World together and admire ‘that entirely English’ set-up in which, Plante wrote at the time ...

A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate

4 March 1999
Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... years, across the changing bay He sailed his patient, scribbled boats away From a strong tower of breath and country clay. The poet wrote until his dying day. The final nail in the coffin came from Stephen Spender, Day Lewis’s old friend and longest surviving hydra head of Roy Campbell’s monstrous ‘MacSpaunday’, who admitted, writing in 1992 at the time of the long-awaited publication of Day ...
6 February 1986
Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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Striker 
by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... Secretary of State, is restricted to the sex-and-violence variety. The peculiar difficulty in writing a novel about Parliament relates to the characters’ credibility. Trouble begins, as John Lehmann once pointed out, when the author feels obliged to introduce a high-ranking minister. The real-life holders of office are too vividly before our eyes. Camp surmounts this problem by avoiding it. He ...
31 July 1997
... not to exist. All I know of it, as we drive down the narrow road, where ivied trees allow light in blinding flashes or not at all, is that it was put together as a new home for my father’s brother, Stephen. Wilsford had long been far too expensive for this eccentric solitary to run, if ‘run’ was a word which could ever apply to my uncle. Here, only a few hundred yards from the old house he had ...

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