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5 February 1981
Green Avenue: The Life and Writings of Forrest Reid 1875-1947 
by Brian Taylor.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 521 22801 8
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... condescension to Englishmen like myself, and one of the few people whose talk was a relief from this was Forrest Reid, a novelist and critic in his late forties, admired by Yeats, Forster and Walterde la Mare, but almost ignored in his own city at that time. His family had belonged to the merchant class, who were relatively free of the political stubbornness which was extreme among the ...


Penelope Fitzgerald

4 July 1996
Edward Thomas: Selected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... the good-hearted but overwhelming Eleanor Farjeon, spoiled him as much as they dared. He couldn’t get on with his son and was sometimes ruthless with his friends – ‘people soon bore him’ said Walterde la Mare sadly – although most of them were called on to help him in his struggle with depression. But Edward Thomas was, and is, greatly loved. His scholarly biographer, George Thomas, irritated ...

Our Jack

Julian Symons

22 July 1993
Imagination of the Heart: The Life of Walter de​ la Mare 
by Theresa Whistler.
Duckworth, 478 pp., £25, May 1993, 9780715624302
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... not properly appreciated, never wholly succumbed to Georgianism – it was Marsh who gave the title ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’ to the poem originally called ‘The Sentimental Exile’. Walterde la Mare, however, had a less rebellious personality. His biographer says rightly that he was associated with the Georgians but not concerned as they were with the delights of country weekends or ...
5 August 1982
Memoirs of a Midget 
by Walter de​ la Mare.
Oxford, 392 pp., £3.50, May 1982, 0 19 281344 7
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... A way into secrecy frisked a pampered mouse’ – a curdled Georgian sentence that leads one straight into one of Walterde la Mare’s most plain and chilling tales about a boy’s initiation into horror. The story is ‘An Ideal Craftsman’. In this genre he was a master – albeit a very literary master – of the riddles of ...
1 October 1987
The Spell 
by Hermann Broch, translated by H.F. Broch de​ Rothermann.
Deutsch, 391 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 233 98049 0
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Hermann Broch: A Biography 
by Paul Michael Lützeler, translated by Janice Furness.
Quartet, 329 pp., £25, June 1987, 0 7043 2604 3
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... has often attracted comments like that and they sound, to the general reader, like the kiss of death. Nevertheless, The Spell is as straightforwardly readable – and haunting – as the stories of WalterDe La Mare, say, or as Emily Brontë. Secondly, it is a reflection on the largest public event in Broch’s life – the takeover of Germany and Austria by the Nazis, heralding their attempt to ...
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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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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... in the early 1960s, it might have seemed as if the genre had become canonical and almost complete. A long and distinguished line led back, through such expert modern practitioners as L.P. Hartley and Walterde la Mare, to the definitive achievements of M.R. James, Stevenson and Le Fanu, and their Gothic predecessors. The ghost story, or original tale of the supernatural, was essentially a short story ...

Other Selves

John Bayley

29 October 1987
How I Grew 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 297 79170 2
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Myself and Michael Innes 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 206 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 575 04104 8
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... Invented stories contain a kernel of mystery because no one – probably not even the author – knows in what relation they stand to a possible fact. If Walterde la Mare had known a disquieting and dominating old lady, and written about her, he would not also have been able to write the masterpiece of ‘Seaton’s Aunt’. The process works another way, too. In his ...

Lyris, Clovis, Nat and Candy

Gabriele Annan: Shena Mackay

16 July 1998
The Artist's Widow 
by Sheila Mackay.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 0 224 05134 2
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... against a green-painted wall – ‘not only for their intrinsic beauty and for myself, but on behalf of people whose hearts are touched in precisely the same way’; and she quotes a little chunk of Walterde la Mare to reinforce her point. Lyris combines literacy, stoicism and personal austerity with charity and humour, and spreads inter-racial and inter-class tolerance. Her best friend is a school ...


Robert Fothergill: Among the Leavisites

12 September 2019
... bike parked outside. He began with the Metaphysical poets, drilling into us the attitudes and criteria and explicatory methods necessary to do battle with those who valued Tennyson and Swinburne and Walterde la Mare. He was amusing and frequently defamatory about his antagonists. ‘Eustace Mandeville Wetenhall Tillyard, gentlemen. The master of Jesus. He goes in for Morris dancing, you know. I’ve ...
19 July 1984
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... It would be unsporting to give more of the game away. The yarns about accident-prone Ray and reformed-villain Charles are the best. I find Andrew too much like Little Nell, and Simon too much like Walter Mitty: but these flaws will not harm Jeffrey Archer’s sales. Simon Raven is playing in a different league from the D.M. Thomas Academicals and the Archer All-Stars. He is more ambitious: he has his ...
27 June 1991
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... but have not been given full-blown picture books. On the other hand, literary memorials – the opening chapter of Brideshead Revisited, Elizabeth Bowen’s descriptions of London, even stories by Walterde la Mare – could be taken as appropriate starting-points for a journey into the neo-romantic visual art of England in the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. Minton’s drawings make a romance of the ...

‘Come, my friend,’ said Smirnoff

Joanna Kavenna: The radical twenties

1 April 1999
The Radical Twenties: Aspects of Writing, Politics and Culture 
by John Lucas.
Five Leaves, 263 pp., £11.99, January 1997, 0 907123 17 1
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... of Lawrence’s fainting ‘civilisation’ striking back. The ‘Georgians’ buried their heads: between 1912 and 1922 Edward Marsh stubbornly published best-selling poetry collections, featuring Walterde la Mare, John Drinkwater, Harold Monro, Rupert Brooke, Wilfrid Blunt, nervously commemorating a threatened pastoral. Other writers, more diffident or isolated, threw in their lot with entropy ...

Keeping warm

Penelope Fitzgerald

30 December 1982
Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner 
Chatto, 311 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 7011 2603 5Show More
The Portrait of a Tortoise 
by Gilbert White and Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Virago, 63 pp., £3.50, October 1981, 0 86068 218 8
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Sylvia Townsend Warner: Collected Poems 
edited by Claire Harman.
Carcanet, 290 pp., £9.95, July 1982, 0 85635 339 6
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Scenes of Childhood and Other Stories 
by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
Chatto, 177 pp., £6.50, September 1981, 0 7011 2516 0
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... had hoped that it no longer was. She was Georgian in her subject matter and also in her professional skill, composing, as she said, ‘with piteous human care’. There, she can bear comparison with Walterde la Mare, the master of the two-stress line: Winter is fallen early On the house of Stare ... STW almost always succeeds with this precarious metre, which sounds nostalgic in ‘The Repose ...

Loose Woven

Peter Howarth: Edward Thomas’s contingencies

4 August 2005
Collected Poems 
by Edward Thomas, edited by R. George Thomas.
Faber, 264 pp., £12.99, October 2004, 0 571 22260 9
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... poet the same person, and links them both to Thomas the 20th-century poet. In the foreword to the first edition of Thomas’s Collected Poems (reprinted here as an appendix), his neat-minded friend Walterde la Mare drew attention to Thomas’s ‘loose-woven’ style, a wonderful epithet which simultaneously conjures up the Thomas of tweeds, pipes and trousers tucked in socks, and his verse, written ...


Mark Ford: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts

18 June 2014
The Gorgeous Nothings 
by Emily Dickinson.
New Directions, 255 pp., £26.50, October 2013, 978 0 8112 2175 7
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The Marvel of Biographical Bookkeeping 
by Francis Nenik, translated by Katy Derbyshire.
Readux, 64 pp., £3, October 2013, 978 3 944801 00 1
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... hundreds of poems composed by Blatný during his time in St Clement’s. Despite its title this poetic ‘scrap’ is so delicately slanted that it recalls not Tennyson, nor its ostensible subject Walterde la Mare, but Saint Emily of Amherst: Walterde la Mare died 1956 the year of the hungarian uprising so he won’t read my old-fashioned poems Was he a Londoner? Did he live in the country? Why ...

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