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’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1990

From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... This is From Early Life by the oldest of the five authors, the novelist and scientist ‘William Cooper’: he was born in 1910 and brought up (as Harry Hoff) in the town of Crewe in Cheshire. Seniors in his family were determined chapel-goers, but Cooper-Hoff looks back at his childhood, over eighty ...

Floating

Christopher Driver, 6 October 1983

Waterland 
by Graham Swift.
Heinemann, 310 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 434 75330 0
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Perfect Happiness 
by Penelope Lively.
Heinemann, 233 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 434 42740 3
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Scenes from Later Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 333 34204 6
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Summer at The Haven 
by Katharine Moore.
Allison and Busby, 158 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 85031 511 5
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... novel whose most convincing character, other than the heroine, is nevertheless both male and dead. William Cooper, in his occasional series of Scenes from ... novels, began staking out his territory as a Whitehall wanton – less pure than the driven Snow – over thirty years ago. He is too canny a pilot in the shallows and rapids of ‘ordinary’ life ...

Last Word

John Charap, 19 November 1981

The Physicists: A Generation that Changed the World 
by C.P. Snow.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 333 32228 2
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... might have gone further had he lived to complete his work. In the excellent introductory essay by William Cooper, we are told that Snow wrote the book largely from memory, and his memory rarely failed him. One error does deserve correction: Werner Heisenberg is unjustly maligned. An inevitable theme in the book is the impact on physics of the rise of ...

Plots

Stephen Bann, 4 November 1982

The Prince buys the Manor 
by Elspeth Huxley.
Chatto, 216 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 7011 2651 5
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Faultline 
by Sheila Ortiz Taylor.
Women’s Press, 120 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 7043 3900 5
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Scenes from Metropolitan Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 214 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 333 34203 8
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Constance, or Solitary Practices 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 394 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11757 0
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Mickelsson’s Ghosts 
by John Gardner.
Secker, 566 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 17251 8
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Beware of pity 
by Stefan Zweig, translated by Phyllis Blewitt and Trevor Blewitt.
Cape, 354 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 02057 9
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... ingenuity to convey it. But the restless contemporaneity of her vision makes a stark contrast with William Cooper’s impeccable Scenes from Metropolitan Life, written in the 1950s but held back from publication up to the present day for legal reasons. Cooper’s work, falling between the celebrated Scenes from ...

Yesterday

Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... in Winter, a poem by Kingsley Amis, Four Quartets, Brideshead Revisited, Nineteen Eighty-Four, William Cooper, Angus Wilson, Horizon, architectural Modernism and the Festival of Britain. Just as you think something important is going to be left out it turns up: the bourgeois intellectual love-affair with France, the nascent aspirations towards ...

Uneasy Guest

Hermione Lee: Coetzee in London, 11 July 2002

Youth 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 169 pp., £14.99, May 2002, 0 436 20582 3
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... from Provincial Life II’, a deliberate pairing with Boyhood. The subtitle (used by William Cooper for a novel in the 1960s, but that’s probably been forgotten) hovers between storytelling and remembering. Certainly, the facts of this life are Coetzee’s. After the uneasy South African childhood we read about in Boyhood, he went to the ...

Red Pill, Blue Pill

James Meek, 22 October 2020

... story bears similarities to the influential American conspiracist text Behold a Pale Horse by William Cooper (which was published at about the time Icke reinvented himself as a prophet), and to the pseudo-leaks that drive QAnon, though QAnon tends to avoid the extraterrestrial. A cursory and much rationalised summary of Icke’s conspiracy theory ...

Turncoats and Opportunists

Alexandra Walsham: Francis Walsingham, 5 July 2012

The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by John Cooper.
Faber, 400 pp., £9.99, July 2012, 978 0 571 21827 1
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... his corpse, which allegedly poisoned one of his pall-bearers. By contrast, Protestant writers – William Camden was one – praised his unswerving allegiance to the queen, his tireless dedication to the reformed religion, and his genius as ‘a most subtil searcher of hidden secrets’. Confessional sentiment has continued to colour accounts of Walsingham in ...

Time of the Red-Man

Mark Ford: James Fenimore Cooper, 25 September 2008

James Fenimore CooperThe Early Years 
by Wayne Franklin.
Yale, 708 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 0 300 10805 7
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... It was a curious set of circumstances that in 1820 drove James Cooper (the ‘middle surname’ Fenimore would not be added for another six years), the son of one of post-independence America’s wealthiest land speculators, to embark on a career in the dubious and unpredictable world of novel-writing. Almost nothing in Cooper’s life up until that year, in which he turned 31, indicates an interest in fiction, or in the arts ...

Against Responsibility

William Davies, 8 November 2018

Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism 
by Melinda Cooper.
Zone, 447 pp., £24, March 2017, 978 1 935408 84 0
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... injustice for Marx), it hasn’t given adequate attention to the family. In her new book, Melinda Cooper argues that the family has been pivotal in the reform of capitalism since the early 1970s, but that this fact has been disguised by the slipperiness of conservative rhetoric. The assumption that ‘neoliberalism’, with its basis in an abstract idea of an ...

Family Fortunes

Helen Cooper: The upwardly mobile Pastons, 4 August 2005

Blood and Roses: The Paston Family in the 15th Century 
by Helen Castor.
Faber, 347 pp., £8.99, June 2005, 0 571 21671 4
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... Edward IV accepted a fraudulent pedigree that gave them as ancestor a man who had come over with William the Conqueror, to whom was assigned the gloriously Saxon name of Wulstan. Clement did, however, have enough money to send his son, William, to train as a lawyer; and William’s ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘A Star is Born’, 25 October 2018

... The king must die but he also has to collude with, even create his assassin. Early on in Bradley Cooper’s first film as a director, a new rendering of A Star Is Born, Cooper himself, playing a crumbling rock/country legend, sings a weary, winsome number about changing styles, whose refrain is ‘Maybe it’s time to let ...

Swaying at the Stove

Rosemary Hill: The Cult of Elizabeth David, 9 December 1999

Elizabeth David: A Biography 
by Lisa Chaney.
Pan, 482 pp., £10, September 1999, 0 330 36762 5
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Waiting at the Kitchen Table. Elizabeth David: The Authorised Biography 
by Artemis Cooper.
Viking, 364 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7181 4224 1
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... neither the authorised nor the unauthorised Life sets out to debunk her, both books, especially Cooper’s, are candid. In the end there is something endearing as well as reassuring in the image of David swaying at the stove with ash from her untipped Gauloise dropping into the paella. One friend called her ‘a sort of Lord Chesterfield of food’ but she ...

Bright Old Thing

D.A.N. Jones, 23 July 1987

Letters of Conrad Russell: 1897-1947 
edited by Georgiana Blakiston.
Murray, 278 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 7195 4382 7
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... entertaining’, but this is ambiguous: he may have meant that Russell was a figure of fun, like William Boot. When Russell died in 1947 he was described in the Times as ‘that most endearing of Somerset farmers’ – the best tribute they could come up with. Russell was ever a countryman, proud of his mangels: raised in rural Surrey, he was discomposed in ...

William Wallace, Unionist

Colin Kidd: The Idea of Devolution, 23 March 2006

State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707 
by Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan.
Oxford, 283 pp., £45, September 2005, 0 19 925820 1
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... over inauthentic unionists. Nevertheless, some revisionist historians have recently shown that William Wallace and Robert Bruce, icons of Scotland’s War of Independence against England in the late 13th and early 14th century, became unionist heroes in 19th-century Scottish culture. Without Wallace and Bruce, so Victorian Scots argued, Scotland would have ...

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