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2 February 1989
Thou shalt not uncover thy mother’s nakedness 
by George Hayim.
Quartet, 232 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 7043 2690 6
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My Father’s House 
by Sylvia Fraser.
Virago, 254 pp., £4.95, February 1989, 0 86068 181 5
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... before killing himself, unless he gives him the money with which to buy a flat. The tantrum is successful, and the child is appeased with £20,000. The death of Ellis Hayim concludes the story. SylviaFraser’s father always wore a white shirt, navy suit and red tie to his job as a steel inspector. He was a regular churchgoer who did not allow drinking or smoking in his house – the house in ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov

24 September 2014
Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... with the sprawling projects of her peers, Levertov’s units of accomplishment (the expert line, the individual lyric) were rigorous and concise. It would be easy enough to claim her, along with Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich, as one of the most important women writing poetry in English in the decades after the Second World War, if ‘woman poet’ hadn’t been a category Levertov despised ...

Nice Guy

Michael Wood

14 November 1996
The Life and Work of Harold Pinter 
by Michael Billington.
Faber, 414 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 571 17103 6
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... 1993) and Ashes to Ashes, which opened at the Royal Court in September of this year. Pinter divorced Vivien Merchant in 1980 (she died two years later of alcoholic poisoning) and married Antonia Fraser. During the Sixties, Pinter had, we now learn, an affair with TV presenter Joan Bakewell, which Billington, before finally coming clean, presents to us with remarkable coyness. We are first told that ...


Sylvia​ Lawson

18 February 1988
Australians: A Historical Library 
Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, AUS $695Show More
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... graves. Most black citizens and increasingly numerous white ones know it, with many – but not all – historians among them. The ABA has had a rocky ride since its establishment, by a hopeful Fraser Government in 1981, with public fights, expensive resignations, and manifest uncase about its own raisond’être expressed in the censorship of its shiny literature: employees have been forbidden ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës

16 November 2017
... Gérin, in her biography of Charlotte published fifty years ago, admitted that ‘to add to their number … lays a particular obligation on the biographer to make his purpose plain.’ Rebecca Fraser justified her Life on the basis that the twenty years since Gérin’s had brought much material to light. ‘Yet another biography,’ Barker writes in The Brontës, ‘requires an apology, or at ...

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