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Thomas Jones: Looking Ahead, 18 May 2000

... I’ve only seen an advance proof) includes Lady Eccles and Anthony and Lady Violet Powell. Murray began the book when he was 16, still at Eton, and finished it a week before starting at Oxford. (Much of the work was done while teaching at a remote prep school in Scotland in the limbo between Eton and Oxford – a gap year to broaden ...

Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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The Constant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... This suggests a certain cutting edge to Margaret Kennedy, which is not quite apparent in Violet Powell’s biography. But it is a very sympathetic book and surely a definitive one, drawing in detail on the family archives. From Chapter 16, for example, I learned that Margaret Kennedy stopped writing, not because she didn’t feel like it, but ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony PowellDancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... has been encased in an obese 995 pages from Zachary Leader. Hilary Spurling’s Life of Anthony Powell breaks with this pattern. The longest-lived of all significant novelists of the last century, his 94 years are covered in fewer than 450 pages of text. In part, that’s because she confines the final quarter of his life to the briefest of postscripts. Yet ...

Every Rusty Hint

Ian Sansom: Anthony Powell, 21 October 2004

Anthony PowellA Life 
by Michael Barber.
Duckworth, 338 pp., £20, July 2004, 0 7156 3049 0
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... I happened to read Michael Barber’s rather off-beat and amusing biography of Anthony Powell while waiting for a delayed easyJet flight from Stansted to Belfast and enduring all the usual privations of short-haul, low-cost flying: being shunted from gate to gate, and from sky-blue-upholstered departure lounge to sky-blue-upholstered departure lounge; and being jostled, and jostling, on this occasion in the very burly company of the young men and women of the Scottish Gymnastics Display Team, and an elderly couple, both in wheelchairs, and a man tattooed from neck to wrist, and possibly lower, who was working his way loudly through a large box of Quality Street ...

At the Wallace Collection

Peter Campbell: Anthony Powell’s artists, 26 January 2006

... of honour in Dancing to the Music of Time, an exhibition about the life and work of Anthony Powell. The painting is powerful but decorous. Apollo’s chariot, high in the sky, drives away the clouds of night. The daylight it brings falls only indirectly on the figures below: four dancers (representing the seasons), Time (whose lyre provides the ...

Time Unfolded

Perry Anderson: Powell v. the World, 2 August 2018

... be incongruous he disregarded. Cases where parallels are as close as those between Proust and Powell lend ‘the compulsion to evaluate’ he thought so generally inescapable a particular force, requiring especial care. We are dealing with two great writers, one universally, the other marginally, acknowledged as such. Yet in at least a couple of respects ...

No more alimony, tra la la

Miranda Carter: Somerset Maugham, 17 December 2009

The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham 
by Selina Hastings.
John Murray, 614 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 7195 6554 0
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... up by critics like Edmund Gosse, literary hostesses like Lady St Helier, and grandes dames like Violet Hunt, a former mistress of H.G. Wells and Ford Madox Ford. He now established himself as a prolific writer of novels, short stories and plays, and perfected his public persona: polite but cynical, with a streak of cruelty. He told a story of meeting ...

Mauve Monkeys

William Fiennes, 18 September 1997

Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy and the First World War 
by Philip Hoare.
Duckworth, 250 pp., £16.95, July 1997, 0 7156 2737 6
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... He trained as a barrister. Trying to cross the Solent to the Isle of Wight in his steam yacht Violet, Billing ended up somewhere near Le Havre. In photographs this dark genius has the leanness and meticulous parting of T.S. Eliot, the milky eyes of Enoch Powell, and a monocle that is his signature affectation; the lens ...


John Bayley, 6 September 1984

The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Vol. V: 1936-1941 
edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie.
Chatto, 402 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 7012 0566 0
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Deceived with Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood 
by Angelica Garnett.
Chatto, 181 pp., £9.95, August 1984, 0 7011 2821 6
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... Shakespeare is Hamlet and Falstaff, Desdemona and Miranda; Dickens is Quilp and Mrs Gamp; Anthony Powell is Widmerpool; Henry James is Isabel Archer and Gilbert Osmond. The character as work of art has the closest possible relation with his creator’s projected being. He is an embodiment of all that is present in his author, but which his author – being ...


Lidija Haas: Candia McWilliam, 6 January 2011

What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness 
by Candia McWilliam.
Cape, 482 pp., £18.99, August 2010, 978 0 224 08898 5
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... her own mother the gift of healing hands’; that Emma’s mother wears lipstick called Un-shy Violet and ‘is named Kiloran after a bay on the island of Colonsay’; that the ‘laird who gets the girl in the Powell and Pressburger film I Know Where I’m Going is also Kiloran’; that Emma’s mother ‘never married ...

Le Roi Jean Quinze

Stefan Collini: Roy Jenkins and Labour, 5 June 2014

Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 818 pp., £30, March 2014, 978 0 224 08750 6
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... in the Ministry of Town and Country Planning in 1945. But then in 1946 he died, at the age of 63. Violet Attlee, the prime minister’s wife, collected Mrs Jenkins and her 25-year-old son from the hospital and took them back to Downing Street for the night, which proved to be, as Campbell nicely observes, ‘the only time in his life that Roy slept in Number ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... you​ miss me?’ Julian asked when I came back from a spell in London. He was eating two bars of Violet Crumble (Australia’s answer to the Crunchie). I said there’d been speculation in the press about my involvement with him, that it was quite difficult, a lot of these people I’d known for years, they were friends, and not answering emails or ...

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