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Victim’s Voice

Julie Davidson, 24 January 1991

Rape: My Story 
by Jill Saward and Wendy Green.
Bloomsbury, 153 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0751 1
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... their several appetites satisfied by any great glut of lurid detail. Jill Saward’s ghost writer, Wendy Green, has done this ingenuous or idealistic or immature young woman – she presents herself as all three – the service of finding a flat, uniform and very nearly monotonous style to describe the lunchtime nightmare of 6 March 1986. It’s a style ...

Lighting-Up Time

Wendy Doniger, 6 March 1997

The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Oxford, 542 pp., £19.99, June 1996, 0 19 820570 8
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... because they struck a blow against ‘the three most obvious privations of the season: the lack of green leaves, light and warmth’. Guy Fawkes remains ‘a comfort to gathering darkness ... a potent symbol of excitement, heat, light and celebration ... at precisely the moment when the onset of cold, darkness and decay are most apparent’. So, too, Christmas ...

Here/Not Here

Wendy Steiner, 4 July 1996

... scar. How can the celebrity outsider maintain a sense of his identity, or painterly authority, when he is his own subject-matter and his audience sees that subject-matter as ‘other’, less than ‘us’? Basquiat’s solutions to this dilemma are often brilliant. In the triptych Zydeco (1984), for example, a cinematographer in profile looks through the lens of his movie camera ...

The Things We Throw Away

Andrew O’Hagan: The Garbage of England, 24 May 2007

... on the top and Tesco bags full of paper underneath. Harrow has a system of compulsory recycling: green bins for paper, cans, bottles, and brown bins for organic waste, which includes garden waste and leftover food. People in Harrow who mix the stuff up, or ‘contaminate’, have their rubbish left uncollected, and must pay £20 to get it picked up, after ...

Philip Roth in Israel

Julian Barnes, 5 March 1987

The Counterlife 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 336 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 224 02871 5
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... his successful New Jersey life includes a perfect family and a satisfactory mistress in Wendy – ‘a nice kid with an oral hang-up who he’s pretty sure will never phone the house’. Henry and Wendy, amongst their erotic sport, play not at Doctor and Nurse but at that less familiar variant, Dentist and ...


Wendy Steiner: In London, 24 May 1990

... to pick up my children?’ And as he snatches the wallet out of my hands, with credit cards, my US Green Card, receipts, children’s photos, memberships for the British Library, the London Library, the Warburg, the Courtauld – all those pieces of myself so laboriously assembled, so telling – the lament rises. ‘Oh, this is terrible. My IDs, my money. How ...

How to Perfume a Glove

Adam Smyth: Early Modern Cookbooks, 5 January 2017

Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen 
by Wendy Wall.
Pennsylvania, 328 pp., £53, November 2015, 978 0 8122 4758 9
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... merits of which derive from the balance of heating and cooling ingredients. ‘Food work’, as Wendy Wall calls it, was a subset of the care of the body, and this intertwining is everywhere in the recipe culture Wall describes. Thus the manuscript recipe book of Mary Birkhead from about 1680 now in the British Library (which Wall cites but doesn’t ...


Nicholas Spice, 15 March 1984

The Fetishist, and Other Stories 
by Michel Tournier, translated by Barbara Wright.
Collins, 220 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 00 221440 7
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My Aunt Christina, and Other Stories 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 575 03256 1
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Mr Bedford and the Muses 
by Gail Godwin.
Heinemann, 229 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 434 29751 8
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Alexandra Freed 
by Lisa Zeidner.
Cape, 288 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 224 02158 3
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The Coffin Tree 
by Wendy Law-Yone.
Cape, 195 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 224 02963 0
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... attempts suicide, surviving to be rehabilitated in a mental hospital. As its title suggests, Wendy Law-Yone’s book is about the presence of death in the midst of life, about human nature quavering between the will to live and the will to die. ‘Living things prefer to go on living’ is as far as she is prepared to go, and she only reaches this point ...


Michael Rogin, 20 August 1998

Celebrity Caricature in America 
by Wendy Wick Reaves.
Yale, 320 pp., £29.95, April 1998, 0 300 07463 8
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... from out of white space, the unmistakable head of Harpo Marx. Turn a few more pages of Wendy Wick Reaves’s spectacular book Celebrity Caricature in America, the catalogue for an exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington DC until 23 August, and you will also learn unmistakably to recognise the artist, Miguel Covarrubias. There’s Covarrubias ...

At New Hall

Eleanor Birne: Modern Women’s Art, 29 June 2017

... when the art collection and the building interact wonderfully well. Three giant bronze beetles, by Wendy Taylor, huddle at the bottom of a spiral staircase, encouraging you to look down at them and take in the perfect curve of the concrete at the same time. A Barbara Hepworth sculpture – Ascending Form (Gloria), on loan from the Hepworth Estate, a circle in ...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... swarming to spend money in Nottingham. Was Robin a proto-Communist? Were some of the Men in Green actually Men in Red? In the early texts Robin doesn’t give to the poor (a point Eric Hobsbawm missed in Bandits); he just gives, like most common or garden bandits, to numero uno. But he certainly robs the rich, and his politics are satisfyingly ...


James Meek, 5 April 2018

... history starts to crowd it out. In September​ last year, in Lutterworth in Leicestershire, I met Wendy Warren. She was born in Kent in 1935 and moved to Leicester just after the Second World War when her father, an engineer, found work there. She did well at school and was set to go to college, but her father lost his job and she chose to help her mother by ...

Here comes Amy

Christopher Reid, 17 April 1986

What the light was like 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 110 pp., £4, February 1986, 0 571 13814 4
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Facing Nature 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 110 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 233 97798 8
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by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 128 pp., £4.95, November 1985, 0 224 02346 2
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by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, 36 pp., £8.95, December 1985, 0 906427 98 3
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Dramatic Verse: 1973-1985 
by Tony Harrison.
Bloodaxe, 448 pp., £20, December 1985, 0 906427 81 9
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Sky Ray Lolly 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 7011 3046 6
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The Tower of Glass 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Mariscat, £3, September 1985, 0 946588 07 4
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Making cocoa for Kingsley Amis 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 65 pp., £7.95, March 1986, 0 571 13977 9
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... instance, where one is told, neither helpfully nor convincingly, that the ‘tiny iridescent lime-green eyes’ of horseflies ‘sparkle like planets that have shrunk to beads’ – but is allowed freest and most embarrassing expression in the title-poem of his book, as well as the central sequence of monologues in ramshackle quatrains, where the imagined ...

He wants me no more

Tessa Hadley: Pamela Hansford Johnson, 21 January 2016

Pamela Hansford Johnson: Her Life, Works and Times 
by Wendy Pollard.
Shepheard-Walwyn, 500 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 0 85683 298 7
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... with much penetration about its subject but doesn’t interfere with it either, no flashy stuff. Wendy Pollard’s record of Johnson’s life is scrupulous; she sticks to the diaries and the letters and the work, and her admiration for her subject and enthusiasm for Johnson’s writing is unflagging. By the end of the book the enthusiasm feels touching, a ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 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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... 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 ...

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