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Diary

Susan McKay: Soldier Dolls in Belfast, 20 April 2016

... In the Republic, the Catholic hierarchy denounced feminism as an attack on the family. In the North, we had rows about whether you could be a feminist without being a republican, a republican and not a feminist. We had rows about whether there were unionist feminists, or feminist unionists. What about feminists who defined themselves just as ...

Western Recklessness

Hugh Roberts, 11 October 2012

... no longer has – or is – a state. The political field throughout most of the Middle East and North Africa is dominated by the various fiercely competing brands of Islamism, while the religious field has been in a state of profound disorder since the abolition of the Caliphate following the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. A ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Bergman and Antonioni, 20 September 2007

... on the bandwagon now, and it wasn’t much of a bandwagon to start with. If cinephilia is dead, as Susan Sontag some time ago suggested it was, who cares about the simultaneous death of two cinéastes? Still, no reader of signs can resist a coincidence, the image of a meaning that can’t be there. Michelangelo Antonioni (born 1912) and Ingmar Bergman (born ...

Surviving the Sixties

Hilary Mantel, 18 May 1989

Shoe: The Odyssey of a Sixties Survivor 
by Jonathan Guinness.
Century Hutchinson, 233 pp., £14.95, March 1989, 0 09 173857 1
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Lilly: Reminiscences of Lillian Hellman 
by Peter Feibleman.
Chatto, 364 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 7011 3441 0
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... but by mentioning that his mother had been married to Oswald Mosley. Being a simple girl from the North of England, and knowing better than to meddle in the affairs of the quality, Shoe didn’t react. The merchant banker was pleased. ‘Shoe’s whole charm, for me, depended on her being non-political.’ After he returned to London, he wrote letters to the ...

Two Spots and a Bubo

Hugh Pennington: Use soap and water, 21 April 2005

Return of the Black Death: The World’s Greatest Serial Killer 
by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan.
Wiley, 310 pp., £16.99, May 2004, 0 470 09000 6
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The Great Plague: The Story of London’s Most Deadly Year 
by Lloyd Moote and Dorothy Moote.
Johns Hopkins, 357 pp., £19.95, April 2004, 0 8018 7783 0
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Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease 
by Wendy Orent.
Free Press, 276 pp., £17.99, May 2004, 0 7432 3685 8
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... and contemporary records of the symptomatology and mortality of the disease, have persuaded Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan (and others) that another parasite must have been at work. There can be no doubt that not everyone who died during these outbreaks died of the plague itself. But the sceptics dismiss strong evidence of Yersinia pestis too ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... shipped to bookstores to meet the demand. It’s number one on the New York Times bestseller list; North American paperback rights have been sold for $1.5 million, and Mike Nichols has bought the movie rights for another million. Garry Trudeau has put it into Doonesbury. Street vendors in Washington are selling buttons that read ‘I am not ...

Who Cares?

Jean McNicol, 9 February 1995

The Report of the Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Christopher Clunis 
by Jean Ritchie, Donald Dick and Richard Lingham.
HMSO, 146 pp., £9.50, February 1994, 0 11 701798 1
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Creating Community Care: Report of the Mental Health Foundation into Community Care for People with Severe Mental Illness 
by William Utting.
Mental Health Foundation, 76 pp., £9.50, September 1994, 0 901944 17 3
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Finding a Place: A Review of Mental Health Services for Adults 
HMSO, 94 pp., £11, November 1994, 0 11 886143 3Show More
The Falling Shadow: One Patient’s Mental Health Care. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Events Leading up to and Surrounding the Fatal Incident at the Edith Morgan Centre, Torbay, on 1 September 1993 
by Louis Blom-Cooper, Helen Hally and Elaine Murphy.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 7156 2662 0
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... p.m. on 9 December 1992 Nigel Bartlett was walking down a quiet suburban street near Wood Green in North London when a man began to follow him. The man – Bartlett said he looked ‘like the Michelin man’ – started walking backwards in front of him and asked him if he was the devil, and then if he was happy. He had something in his hand; Bartlett thought ...

Anti-Condescensionism

Susan Pedersen: The fear of needles, 1 September 2005

Bodily Matters: The Anti-Vaccination Movement in England, 1853-1907 
by Nadja Durbach.
Duke, 276 pp., £14.95, March 2005, 0 8223 3423 2
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... supporters from all classes but were, predictably, strongest in radical London and the industrial north, drawing in those lower-middle-class shopkeepers and working-class artisans and operatives who made up the shock troops of the temperance, naturopathy, anti-vivisection, spiritualist and so many other single-issue movements. The leagues publicised cases of ...

Less than Perfectly Submissive

Susan Pedersen: No Votes, Thank You, 20 March 2008

Women against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain 
by Julia Bush.
Oxford, 340 pp., £35, October 2007, 978 0 19 924877 3
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... more likely to be found in Kensington or Chelsea than in industrial towns or the progressive North. Its leaders tended to head up women’s imperial organisations as well, and to be linked by birth and marriage to the imperial governing class. Add to this that the anti-suffragists were on average older than their opponents and much more likely to be ...

Shock Cities

Susan Pedersen: The Fate of Social Democracy, 2 January 2020

Thatcher’s Progress: From Social Democracy to Market Liberalism through an English New Town 
by Guy Ortolano.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £29.99, June 2019, 978 1 108 48266 0
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Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Postwar England 
by Jon Lawrence.
Oxford, 327 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 0 19 877953 7
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... governing motifs in British social life. Most people – across class, political, urban-rural, and north-south divides – usually pursued both freedom and connection, liberty and belonging. ‘The great epochal shift from social democratic to neoliberal politics looks a lot messier when seen from below.’ Take the neighbourliness and extended family ...

Man without a Fridge

Thomas Jones: Haruki Murakami, 17 April 2003

After the Quake 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Vintage, 132 pp., £6.99, March 2003, 1 84343 015 0
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Earthshaking Science: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Earthquakes 
by Susan Elizabeth Hough.
Princeton, 238 pp., £17.95, May 2002, 0 691 05010 4
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... husband) takes a week off work. A colleague suggests he go on holiday to Kushiro, in the north, and offers to pay if Komura will deliver a package for him, to his sister. Komura is met at the airport by the sister and a friend, Shimao. Komura and Shimao end up in bed together, but ‘after several failed attempts to have sex with Shimao, Komura gave ...

As Many Pairs of Shoes as She Likes

Jenny Turner: On Feminism, 15 December 2011

... newspapers, August 2011: Natasha Reid, 24, pleaded guilty to stealing a television from a Comet in North London during the riots of 7 August. Her mother said she was ‘baffled’ by her own behaviour – she had a much nicer TV set at home. Shonola Smith, 22, pleaded guilty, along with her sister and a friend, to ‘entering’ Argos in Croydon: ‘The ...

Here’s to the high-minded

Stefan Collini, 7 April 1994

After the Victorians: Private Conscience and Public Duty in Modern Britain 
edited by Susan Pedersen and Peter Mandler.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1994, 0 415 07056 2
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... on this development suggests that this extended historical episode is essentially over. As Susan Pedersen and Peter Mandler emphasise in the introductory essay of After the Victorians, the volume is intended to challenge the once conventional assumption that the early decades of the 20th century saw a decisive break with the values of the Victorian ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... spinning in the Western Highlands, a barn in a Norwegian saeter, and a little curiosity shop in North London kept by a Jew with a dyed beard’ – and make up a story to connect them. The reader won’t know that you ‘fixed upon the solution first, and then invented a problem to suit it’. This suggests, among other things, that in the world Buchan ...

Adulterers’ Distress

Philip Horne, 21 July 1983

A Nail on the Head 
by Clare Boylan.
Hamish Hamilton, 135 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 241 11001 7
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New Stories 8: An Arts Council Anthology 
edited by Karl Miller.
Hutchinson, 227 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 9780091523800
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The Handyman 
by Penelope Mortimer.
Allen Lane, 199 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1364 9
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Open the Door 
by Rosemary Manning.
Cape, 180 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 224 02112 5
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A Boy’s Own Story 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 218 pp., £2.50, July 1983, 0 330 28151 8
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... Half Brother’ by Francis Wyndham, an account of a black sheep step-brother; ‘Remembrance’ by Susan Boyd, which touches on the subject of a dead grandmother; and ‘Trotsky’s Other Son’ by Carol Singh, a story describing a Marxist who ran a bookshop in a Nottingham slum in the early Sixties. ‘Women with Bicycle’ by Jane Oxenford and the brief ...

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