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Knights of the Road

Tom​ Clark: The Beat generation

6 July 2000
This is the Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris 
by James Campbell.
Vintage, 320 pp., £7.99, May 2000, 0 09 928269 0
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... had originated nearly two decades earlier, Ginsberg confided, in an auditory hallucination of William Blake intoning ‘Ah, Sunflower’ to him ‘like God had a human voice’. James Campbell, who introduces a note of irony into his reworking of twice-told Beat tales, refers to Ginsberg’s historic undergraduate illumination as ‘hand-held’ – perhaps an allusion to a key detail in ...

Editor’s Story

Peter Campbell

18 November 1982
Of This Our Time 
by Tom​ Hopkinson.
Hutchinson, 317 pp., £8.95, April 1982, 9780091478605
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... When Tom Hopkinson was nine years old his father called the family together. He had decided, he said, to become a clergyman. Later he told his son that he had been persuaded to take this long-contemplated ...

Colonels in Horsehair

Stephen Sedley: Human Rights and the Courts

19 September 2002
Sceptical Essays on Human Rights 
edited by Tom Campbell and K.D. Ewing.
Oxford, 423 pp., £60, December 2001, 0 19 924668 8
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... The United Kingdom is a good place in which to assemble a book of sceptical essays about human rights, but was 2001 a good year in which to do it? True, by then Scotland and Wales had operative devolution statutes which obliged their Governments to observe the European Convention on Human Rights in all they did; and some interesting decisions had already been thrown up north of the border. But the ...


Tom​ Shippey

5 May 1988
Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard 
by Russell Miller.
Joseph, 390 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2764 1
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by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 605 pp., £3.50, February 1988, 9781870451185
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Mission Earth. Vol. V: Fortune of Fear 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 365 pp., £10.75, July 1987, 1 870451 01 5
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Mission Earth. Vol. VI: Death Quest 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 351 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 1 870451 02 3
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... times confused – it looks just the kind of thing people make up about famous acquaintances thirty years later, so they can say: ‘I knew it all along.’ There is also the strange case of John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding, who gave Hubbard his big break by letting him write a ‘fact article’ on Dianetics. Campbell, for all his faults, was sceptical well past the point of iconoclasm: in 1960 ...

Answering back

James Campbell

11 July 1991
The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... littered with blacks like Man Friday, who falls to earth to worship Crusoe’s magical gun, or the savage in Conrad’s steamship.’ He could have added that American literature is too, from Uncle Tom to Nigger Jim to Porgy and Bess and Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury. The Americans, under the guidance first of the great W.E.B DuBois, then of the poets Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown, and next ...

At Condor Cycles

Peter Campbell: The Tour

19 July 2001
... kind of imitation. In Armstrong’s recent biography (Yellow Jersey, £8), pain is the common element in the juxtaposed stories of his cancer treatment and cycling career. The British rider Tom Simpson, who died climbing Mont Ventoux in the 1967 Tour, enters the mythology as a hero falling in battle rather than the victim of a sporting accident. The aesthetics of the bicycle, like that of ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Thomas Girtin

22 August 2002
... Turner’s remark ‘Had Tom Girtin lived, I should have starved’ is as good a posthumous puff as any artist ever gave another. It’s printed on the back of Tate Britain’s Girtin catalogue.* There it reads as a challenge ...

At Tate Modern

Peter Campbell: Bruce Nauman’s Raw Materials

4 November 2004
... studio at night. The high point of the action (you have to be quick to spot it) is a mouse whizzing across the floor. There is a cat too, I think, but things take a good deal longer to happen than in Tom and Jerry and I didn’t have time to wait for it. However, I did sit long enough among the jumpy pixellated images to feel, for a while, that there was a self-denying lesson implied – something ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: London 1753

25 September 2003
... of places and people and all kinds of printed ephemera. Conflicting versions of what is going on were as common then as now. The last plate in Hogarth’s Four Stages of Cruelty shows the cadaver of Tom Nero, hanged for his crimes, being anatomised in the Cutlerian Theatre of the Royal College of Physicians: ‘Those Eyeballs from their Sockets wrung,/That glow’d with lawless Lust!’ The first ...

In a Bookshop

Peter Campbell: Penguin by Illustrators

10 September 2009
... offended by jackets (often showing bits of naked women) that their editors tell them the sales department backed at the cover meeting. It isn’t a new phenomenon; in a scene in The Seven Year Itch, Tom Ewell lowers the necklines on the cover art of an edition of Little Women with, if I remember rightly, sweeping curves of his pen. The design that really offers a ‘subtle and intimate promise of ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: On being photographed

15 April 2004
... The face becomes an elegant mask, and very often a mask produced to a specification already developed, in paint or on film, by another artist. What makes one go on looking at the selection from Tom Phillips’s collection of fifty thousand photographic postcards, also at the Portrait Gallery, until 20 June, is what Beaton was good at hiding: the heterogeneity of the unmasked human face. In the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Britney’s Biggest Fan

21 June 2001
... final State of the Union address, Reagan announced: ‘Some years ago, the Federal Government declared war on poverty, and poverty won.’ Amiable? Britney Spears – will her oldest fan, Alistair Campbell, help her run for President in 2004? – has co-written with her mother a not-in-the-slightest-bit-autobiographical novel about a teenager who becomes a pop star. Some say, however, that A Mother’s ...

I lerne song

Tom​ Shippey: Medieval schooling

22 February 2007
Medieval Schools: From Roman Britain to Renaissance England 
by Nicholas Orme.
Yale, 430 pp., £25, June 2006, 0 300 11102 9
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... contrast between life at home, with breakfast in bed, and life at school, up at five, no breakfast, nothing but ‘monishing and stripes’. Or as an Irish classmate said sadly to C.S. Lewis at Campbell College more than four centuries later: ‘This time last month, I wouldn’t have been going in to Preparation, I’d have a wee tea-cloth laid for me at one end of the table and sausages to my tea ...

Short Cuts

Tom​ Crewe: Labour’s Best Cards

28 June 2017
... be wiser to follow Disraeli in 1873 and refuse, forcing May, as Disraeli forced Gladstone, to find a way of carrying on, however pathetically, her position visibly untenable. Or he could do as Henry Campbell-Bannerman did in 1905 and form a minority government simply in order to call an election. In both cases, the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – scheduled for repeal in the Tory manifesto, but still very ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour

5 April 2001
Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom​ Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... headline in the Sun or the Mail. This ultra-sensitivity has inevitably increased the importance of the media managers. When the Northern Ireland negotiations got serious Tony Blair took Alistair Campbell into the room with him and insisted that Mo Mowlam remain outside. David Trimble was astonished but that’s how it always is with New Labour. Andrew Rawnsley records how the momentous decision that ...

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