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Buggering on

Paul Addison

21 July 1983
Winston Churchill: Companion Vol. V, Part III, The Coming of War 1936-1939 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1684 pp., £75, October 1982, 0 434 29188 9
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Finest Hour: Winston Churchill, 1939-1941 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1308 pp., £15.95, June 1983, 0 434 29187 0
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Churchill 1874-1915 
by Ted Morgan.
Cape, 571 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 224 02044 7
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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 
by William Manchester.
Michael Joseph, 973 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2275 5
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... over the years. His work is in a class by itself and as he begins the next volume we should send him this message: KBO. If the official biography is definitive, why should two American authors, TedMorgan and William Manchester, have embarked on their own lives of Churchill? Many authors explain in a preface how and why they came to begin a book, but neither Morgan nor Manchester offers a clue. From ...
14 September 1989
Churchill: 1874-1922 
by Frederick Earl of Birkenhead, edited​ by Sir John Colville.
Harrap, 552 pp., £19.95, August 1989, 0 245 54779 7
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... collections, would then be available beautifully edited, and the task of delineating Churchill to the mid-career point would become manageable. The studies of Churchill by William Manchester and TedMorgan, published in 1983, were produced in this way, the first extending to 1932 and the second to 1915. Both authors were careful to acknowledge their debt to the official volumes. Neither seems to have ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie

1 July 1982
Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted​ Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... are old and lost in memory you might, seized by a sentimental fit, take down this book and blow the dust off it recalling: ‘Bosley was quite keen on me.’ What on earth were they looking for – Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney and Charles Causley – that they should have rated Bosley’s heart-warming dexterity (feelingful as well as formal) below, for instance, 18 solid ...

Fusion Fiction

Clare Bucknell: ‘Girl, Woman, Other’

24 October 2019
Girl, Woman, Other 
by Bernardine Evaristo.
Hamish Hamilton, 452 pp., £16.99, May, 978 0 241 36490 1
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... the next generation of prostitutes, drug dealers and crackheads’) at Peckham School; one of Shirley’s very few star pupils, Carole, now vice president of a City bank by way of Oxford; and Morgan, a non-binary Twitter influencer and huge fan of Amma’s plays who’s been paid to tweet-review the evening in ‘attention-seeking soundbites’. Amma isn’t Clarissa Dalloway, though, and this ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service

18 April 2019
... on 14 February 1986. (Yes, St Valentine’s Day. The patron saint of bathos.) ‘Deliver me from all mine offences,’ the choir sang, doing Psalm 39, ‘and make me not a rebuke unto the foolish.’ Ted Hughes read the bit from Ecclesiasticus about now praising famous men. Where these orders of service used to be religious brochures offering blasts of Christian devotion, they are now ‘celebrations ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted​ Hughes in His Cage

17 March 2016
Ted​ Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... So much​ in the life and work of Ted Hughes was weird and transgressive that even now, 18 years after his death, it is hard to feel confident that his actions and beliefs and literary achievement can be judiciously and authoritatively ...

Bad Dreams

Robert Crawford: Peter Porter

6 October 2011
The Rest on the Flight: Selected​ Poems 
by Peter Porter.
Picador, 421 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 0 330 52218 2
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... at home with the children, was suffering from depression and developing a serious alcohol problem. Among her close friends had been Assia Wevill, who in 1969 murdered the daughter she had had with Ted Hughes then killed herself. Jannice was also fascinated by the story of the artist Dora Carrington, another suicide. Worried about the situation, Porter accompanied his wife to a psychoanalyst, but ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford

20 April 1989
Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited​ by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited​ by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited​ by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... The poetic celebrants of home at the moment tend not to be women. But if it was once fashionable to see home as a ‘provincial’ bore, there have been poets around for some time, such as Edwin Morgan and Roy Fisher, who give the lie to that. Home is no longer ‘so sad’. At home few people speak Proper English all the time. Home-based poetry may be in dialect, which is present in nearly all the ...
7 March 1985
Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected​ Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited​ by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... rather monotonously small follower Philip Larkin’, etc? If he despises William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, Gertrude Stein, Robert Lowell, Charles Olson, Edith Sitwell, Augustus John and Ted Hughes, what’s the merit of vulgarity and spleen? Many trees have been cut down to make the paper on which Grigson has spewed his contempt for teachers, critics, literary editors, the scholars who ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan

16 June 2011
... the Burnsian model: writers who are famous and lionised in the city are more likely to be found notorious in the country.We made a trip into Glasgow to a care home on the Crow Road, where Edwin Morgan was then living and writing. He and I had corresponded when he left his old flat and lost his library. I sent him some books and we agreed to see each other in Glasgow. Eddie was a city man. He was a ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited​ by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited​ by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... them: Sorley MacLean, who Armitage and Crawford make a point of including as if he were on the margin, is far from being a stranger to mainstream anthologies, while Basil Bunting, Dylan Thomas, Edwin Morgan, R.S. Thomas, Iain Crichton Smith, Thom Gunn, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig are unassailably part of our consciousness of the poetic landscape. Auden and MacNeice, too, though the omission in ...

The Superhuman Upgrade

Steven Shapin: The Book That Explains It All

12 July 2017
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow 
by Yuval Noah Harari.
Vintage, 528 pp., £9.99, March 2017, 978 1 78470 393 6
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... the Neolithic to the present in a punchy four hundred pages, it was an international bestseller, endorsed by Barack Obama and tagged as essential reading by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. There were TED talks, public lectures, a dedicated YouTube channel, a hugely popular online course, speeches to the futurologists at Google and the Singularity University in Silicon Valley. There’s a new and ...
25 February 1993
Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... shock him. Just once. An unforgettable occasion. A motor eased alongside Tony at the corner of Blythe Street, Bethnal Green. Ron and Reg were inside, keeping company with a known associate, Dickie Morgan. Reg was nicely cased in a blue three-piece by Woods of Kingsland Road. Dickie matched him. (The Twins were very influential that way. All the faces were expected to dress to a middle-management ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Establishment President

13 May 2010
... seem to bear out that hope. On 3 November last year, Bob McDonnell, a Republican, was elected governor of Virginia; on 19 January, a Republican who describes himself as independent, Scott Brown, won Ted Kennedy’s senate seat in Massachusetts. The scale of these victories made them particularly ominous. McDonnell took 59 per cent of the votes and Brown 52 per cent, in states where Obama a year ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti

17 December 2015
I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected​ Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited​ by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited​ by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... The conjunction of opposites, charted throughout I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career, features none of the planetary collisions, the cheek-chewing grand guignol of the legend of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. There are no treaties with dark gods to be unpacked into conspiracy files and no shamanic visitations from crows and reeking foxes. Two ambitious young or youngish American ...

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