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Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters

7 July 1988
... thorough: it will delight the heart and ease the mind of every literary biographer in the country. As a browser, I poked about in it with some interest, noting, for instance, that most of SusanHill is in the SusanHill collection at Eton College Library, and that Andrew Motion wrote a letter to E.M. Forster in ‘?1970’ which is under ‘restricted access’ at King’s College Cambridge. But ...
17 November 1983
The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill and John Lawrence.
Hamish Hamilton, 160 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 241 10987 6
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Legion 
by William Peter Blatty.
Collins, 252 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 00 222735 5
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The Lost Flying Boat 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 288 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 246 12236 6
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Snow, and Other Stories 
by Antony Lambton.
Quartet, 134 pp., £6.95, September 1983, 0 7043 2407 5
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New Islands, and Other Stories 
by Maria Luisa Bombal, translated by Richard Cunningham, Lucia Cunningham and Jorge Luis Borges.
Faber, 112 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 571 12052 0
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The Antarctica Cookbook 
by Crispin Kitto.
Duckworth, 190 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7156 1762 1
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Sole Survivor 
by Maurice Gee.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13017 8
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... at all costs; in place of the short story, there is the gross and overblown novel which strains its every sinew to the state of commercial apotheosis which is awaiting it upon the cinema screen. SusanHill’s The Woman in Black and William Peter Blatty’s Legion (‘The sequel to The Exorcist’) very neatly illustrate this parting of the ways. If SusanHill’s ‘ghost story’ is not a ...

How do you see Susan?

Mary Beard: No Asp for Zenobia

20 March 2003
Cleopatra: Beyond the Myth 
by Michel Chauveau, translated by David Lorton.
Cornell, 104 pp., £14.95, April 2002, 0 8014 3867 5
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The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations 
by Maria Wyke.
Oxford, 452 pp., £40, March 2002, 9780198150756
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... that the most dangerous and distinguished of Rome’s victims never reached the end of the procession: they were put to death in the Forum, just as the general began his ascent of the Capitoline Hill to offer sacrifice at the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. She pre-empted the humiliation by suicide – either by means of her trademark asp (which, as the symbol of Egyptian monarchy, turned her ...

A History

Allan Massie

19 February 1981
The Kennaway Papers 
by James Kennaway and Susan​ Kennaway.
Cape, 141 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 0 224 01865 5
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... the book was fiction, he drew Fiddes in the likeness of David. This book, Some Gorgeous Accident, was eventually published in 1967. Link in the same book possessed much of James.’ So writes Susan Kennaway. The difficulties Kennaway experienced in the writing of this book caused him to question his talent, and between 1964 and 1967 he came to reassess the sort of writer he was, and arrived at ...

How did she get those feet?

Alice Spawls: The Female Detective

20 February 2014
The Notting Hill​ Mystery: The First Detective Novel 
by Charles Warren Adams.
British Library, 312 pp., £8.99, February 2012, 978 0 7123 5859 0
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The Female Detective: The Original Lady Detective 
by Andrew Forrester.
British Library, 328 pp., £8.99, October 2012, 978 0 7123 5878 1
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Revelations of a Lady Detective 
by William Stephens Hayward.
British Library, 278 pp., £8.99, February 2013, 978 0 7123 5896 5
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... and loyal sidekicks – while their failures inspired cleverer ways to disarm readers. Three of the books that fell by the wayside have recently been reissued by the British Library. The Notting Hill Mystery, advertised as ‘the first detective novel’, was published in 1862, six years before The Moonstone, which T.S. Eliot, not altogether correctly, called ‘the first, the longest and the ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill

5 February 2015
A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... breaking up. The Luards decamped to live cheaply in Spain, where their most grandiose joint enterprise with Elwes, a luxury villa complex called El Cuartón, was soon quite literally sinking. Ian and Susan Maxwell-Scott’s marriage was as rocky as the Lucans’. Susan, the last person known to have seen Lucan alive, was also drinking and behaving oddly. During a weekend both couples and their children ...

Up and doing

Susan​ Brigden

6 August 1992
Fire from Heaven: Life in an English Town in the 17th Century 
by David Underdown.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £17.99, May 1992, 0 00 215865 5
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... This book charts a kind of revolution: the building of a new Jerusalem, ‘a city on a hill’, in Dorchester, Dorset, in the early 17th century. The story of a little country town, inhabited, like others, by ordinary sinners and recidivists, which, for a time, aspired to godliness is a ...

Perfect Light

Jenny Diski

9 July 1992
Diana: Her True Story 
by Andrew Morton.
Michael O’Mara, 165 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85479 191 5
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Shared Lives 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 285 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 7475 1164 0
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Antonia White: Diaries 1958-1979 
edited by Susan​ Chitty.
Constable, 352 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 09 470660 3
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... One of the mysteries of our time is the hunger we have to know details about the lives of people we have never met. Years ago, walking down Heath Street, I saw, at the bottom of the hill by the station, the most extraordinary glow in the air. I was still too far away to see what was causing the strange disturbance, but as I got closer the picture resolved itself into two figures ...
31 August 1989
Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan​ Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... would be lost to them. ‘How we all used to underrate her,’ said Morgan Forster. Their correspondence between 1918 and 1925, when they married, has been edited by a niece and a nephew, Polly Hill and Richard Keynes, who rightly believe that it will be ‘of value and interest and will not offend their ghosts’. In an excellent introduction they admit that Lydia, in the early stages, must ...

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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... Mental Health Assessment he had attended the week before. He later, rather unconvincingly, denied all this and claimed that he had had no idea who attacked Nigel Bartlett. About half an hour later, Susan Parashar, who lived nearby in Whittington Road, bumped into her son and his friends while she was taking her dogs for a walk. A large man came up and began, incoherently, to talk to them. He tried to ...

Fear the fairies

John Gallagher: Early Modern Sleepe

17 May 2017
Sleep in Early Modern England 
by Sasha Handley.
Yale, 280 pp., £25, August 2016, 978 0 300 22039 1
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... people who visited the Buckinghamshire astrologer-physician and clergyman Richard Napier around the beginning of the 17th century, many were troubled by questions of sleep. The mother of 11-year-old Susan Blundell told Napier that her daughter was ‘now given mutch to sleeping’, and that two days before, she had slept ‘the space of 24 houres but that her sleepe was interrupted with her usuall ...

Going up to Heaven

Susan​ Pedersen: Before the Pill

28 May 2009
Birth Control, Sex and Marriage in Britain 1918-60 
by Kate Fisher.
Oxford, 294 pp., £24, May 2008, 978 0 19 954460 8
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For Their Own Good: The Transformation of English Working-Class Health Culture, 1880-1970 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Ohio State, 409 pp., £64.95, October 2008, 978 0 8142 1094 9
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... have felt able to trust their husbands. Withdrawal was ‘natural’ and private, and – if referred to at all – could be described through euphemisms or homely metaphors (‘getting off at Mill Hill’; ‘taking the kettle off’) far removed from the medicalised or sexualised language of the birth-control clinic or the rubber shop. Even its unreliability was almost a virtue, for these couples ...

One-Man Ministry

Susan​ Pedersen: Welfare States

8 February 2018
Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State 
by Chris Renwick.
Allen Lane, 323 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 0 241 18668 8
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... sometimes problematic and sometimes heroic, engagements and commitments. We meet Edwin Chadwick struggling with drains and contagion, Francis Galton puzzling over ‘defect’ and degeneracy, Octavia Hill setting up model housing and disciplining her unruly tenants, Charles Booth sending his army of volunteers out to categorise and analyse London’s working class. Some of the sons and daughters of ...

Diary

Susan​ McKay: The Irish Border

29 March 2017
... known as a border poll, as permitted under the Good Friday Agreement, is being discussed.The artist John Byrne used to sell replicas of the British army watchtowers that bristled up from the hill tops of Armagh. The fortifications have long gone, and there’s a world of difference between the frightening place Colm Tóibín explored in 1987 in Bad Blood: A Walk along the Irish Border, the ...
4 July 1996
‘Salome’ and ‘Under the Hill’ 
by Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.
Creation, 123 pp., £7.95, April 1996, 1 871592 12 7
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Aubrey Beardsley: Dandy of the Grotesque 
by Chris Snodgrass.
Oxford, 338 pp., £35, August 1995, 0 19 509062 4
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... fetishism, phallic narcissism, transvestism, uranism, masochism, necrophilia. Venus and Tannhäuser, Beardsley’s unfinished literary tour de force, published in expurgated form as ‘Under the Hill’ in the Savoy and in full after his death, presents an extraordinary catalogue of bizarre practices. Its anti-hero, transposed from the Middle Ages to the 18th century as a chevalier or an abbé ...

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