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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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... vulgarly curious, the plain prurient and the downright perverted. As it happens, they won’t have their several appetites satisfied by any great glut of lurid detail. Jill Saward’s ghost writer, WendyGreen, 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 ...

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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... that the midwinter festivals (Guy Fawkes, Christmas, New Year) have remained popular in large part 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 ...

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. In a Cubist pun ...

The Things We Throw Away

Andrew O’Hagan: The Garbage of England

24 May 2007
... parts. There’s no telling them.’ He showed me one of the bins outside a large house; it had grass 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 ...

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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... with the Spanish ambassador, Count Gondomar) include a pulverised onion-and-yeast bandage, the 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 ...

Unmistakable

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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... near-rectangle vertically placed for shoulder. These lines and shapes precipitate a face, itself un-outlined, 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 ...

Spicy

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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... sister struggle to survive in an alien and indifferent world. The brother goes mad and dies. The sister 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 ...

At New Hall

Eleanor Birne: Modern Women’s Art

28 June 2017
... they’ve even managed to set foot inside a court, let alone an actual building. There are moments 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 ...
5 March 1987
The Counterlife 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 336 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 224 02871 5
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... dentist brother Henry puts it. Henry – at least in Nathan’s account of him – is normality personified: 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 ...

Diary

Wendy​ Steiner: In London

24 May 1990
... breathy, half-articulated phrases. ‘All my money. This is terrible. How can I get to the airport 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 ...

NHS SOS

James Meek

5 April 2018
... strangers to care about who you are, just when your personal history is at its ripest, your medical 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 ...

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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... anything so subtle. It’s the second best kind of biography, the innocent kind, which doesn’t think 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 ...

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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... they were worried that their association with such a notorious outlaw might put off foreign investors 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 ...

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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Nero 
by Jeremy Reed.
Cape, 128 pp., £4.95, November 1985, 0 224 02346 2
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V. 
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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... frequently governs his wiser instincts. This bedevils many of his nature poems –‘Drought’, for 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 ...
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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... The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror, admits that Ronnie Kray did 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 ...

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