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Grand Old Sod

Paul Driver: William Walton

12 December 2002
The Selected Letters of William​ Walton 
edited by Malcolm Hayes.
Faber, 526 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 571 20105 9
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William WaltonMuse of Fire 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 332 pp., £45, June 2001, 9780851158037
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William Walton, the Romantic Loner: A Centenary Portrait Album 
by Humphrey Burton and Maureen Murray.
Oxford, 182 pp., £25, January 2002, 0 19 816235 9
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... Malcolm Hayes tells us that the letters he has selected are merely a quarter of a fifth of those so far available, but one would not want the volume longer. WilliamWalton is no prose stylist, not much of an anecdotalist, and his letters reveal remarkably little about him. They are nearly always utilitarian – money, advice, favours to be sought, contracts to be ...

Cad’s Cadenzas

Christopher Driver

15 September 1988
William WaltonBehind the Façade 
by Susana Walton.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 19 315156 1
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Façade: Edith Sitwell Interpreted 
by Pamela Hunter.
Duckworth, 106 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 9780715621844
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... dependence upon Peter Pears, the sharer of his bed, shines through most of his later music. Susana Gil alighted upon the gossip circuit of musical Europe as a living anachronism. ‘By God, William is going to marry a native,’ said one of Walton’s friends when the eminent composer’s Buenos Aires flag-showing trip in 1948 turned into a fishing expedition. It wasn’t only her youth and ...
10 May 1990
The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... On the dust-jacket of the latest supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography there are photographs of David Niven, Diana Dors, Eric Morecambe, John Betjeman and WilliamWalton. Dors has a leering ‘Come up and read me sometime’ expression on her face and Niven wears his yacht-club greeter’s smile. Morecambe seems to be laughing at one of his own jokes. Amiable images ...

Diary

Christopher Nicholson: Rare Birds

22 November 2018
... of a golf course bear some resemblance to the arid sands of North Africa and the Middle East. Early British records are as follows: 1. 1785, month unknown. Shot near Wingham in Kent, at the seat of William Hammond, Esq.; sent to the ornithologist Dr John Latham, author of A General Synopsis of Birds (1781-1801). 2. 1793, month unknown. Shot in North Wales by George Kingston of Queen’s College, Oxford ...
22 May 1986
The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... hardly have a book at all. Even when reading about Constant’s development and interaction with the great (Diaghilev, the Sitwells), one is often keener to learn of the luck his rival and friend WilliamWalton was having. Walton’s history lurks in the shadows of the Lambertian narrative, and his more succulent achievement stimulates the greater curiosity. As for George Lambert’s overall failure ...

Let’s to billiards

Stephen Walsh: Constant Lambert

22 January 2015
Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 584 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 1 84383 898 2
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... been taken to watch the Ballets Russes in London, and would annoy his schoolfellows by reading ballet reviews ‘while they were poring over the latest score from Lords or the Oval’. Later, when WilliamWalton went to see Diaghilev about the possibility of a commission, Lambert went along too and played through his own ballet Adam and Eve, which Diaghilev liked but insisted on retitling Romeo and ...

Wounds

Stephen Fender

23 June 1988
Hemingway 
by Kenneth Lynn.
Simon and Schuster, 702 pp., £16, September 1987, 0 671 65482 9
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The Faces of Hemingway: Intimate Portraits of Ernest Hemingway by those who knew him 
by Denis Brian.
Grafton, 356 pp., £14.95, May 1988, 0 246 13326 0
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... do with his stories and novels: it was the fiction that Hemingway and others had made of his life that held the attention – the text of the man, not of his art. As the writer and war correspondent WilliamWalton said to Denis Brian, ‘a man who has spent all his life inventing fiction keeps on inventing it in his private life.’ The reaction started with the publication of Death in the Afternoon in ...

Heat in a Mild Climate

James Wood: Baron Britain of Aldeburgh

19 December 2013
Benjamin Britten: A Life in the 20th Century 
by Paul Kildea.
Allen Lane, 635 pp., £30, January 2013, 978 1 84614 232 1
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Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music 
by Neil Powell.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £25, January 2013, 978 0 09 193123 0
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... imperative: ‘Just go on expanding.’ Britten was only 25. The intensity of that expansion, which continued to his death, can be tested when compared with its lack in his nearest English rival, WilliamWalton, born 11 years before him. Walton’s career began in brilliance and ended in conformity. Britten told Walton that hearing the latter’s Viola Concerto, in 1931, was a turning point in his ...

No False Modesty

Rosemary Hill: Edith Sitwell

20 October 2011
Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius 
by Richard Greene.
Virago, 532 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 86049 967 8
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... to make it so. But she had other achievements. As an editor she was responsible for getting Wilfred Owen’s poems into print in her magazine, Wheels. With Façade, devised in collaboration with WilliamWalton and first produced in 1922, she invented something new, a kind of Symbolist/Futurist performance poetry. Like her appearance, indeed her entire life, Façade treads fearlessly the fine line ...

Stormy Weather

E.S. Turner

18 July 1996
Passchendaele: The Untold Story 
by Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson.
Yale, 237 pp., £19.95, May 1996, 0 300 06692 9
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... On a June night in 1917, in his home at Walton Heath in Surrey, the Prime Minister asked to be roused at 3 a.m., because there was something he did not want to miss: the big bang from afar which would signify that British sappers had blown the ...

Fade to Greige

Elaine Showalter: Giorgio Armani

4 January 2001
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion 
by Holly Brubach.
Phaidon, 232 pp., £19.95, October 1999, 9780714838878
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Fashion Today 
by Colin McDowell.
Phaidon, 511 pp., £39.95, September 2000, 0 7148 3897 7
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Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender and Society in Clothing 
by Diana Crane.
Chicago, 294 pp., £19, August 2000, 0 226 11798 7
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Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries 
by Avril Hart and Susan North.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 223 pp., £19.95, October 2000, 1 85177 258 8
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Don We Now Our Gay Appalrel: Gay Men’s Dress in the 20th Century 
by Shuan Cole.
Berg, 224 pp., £42.99, September 2000, 1 85973 415 4
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The Gallery of Fashion 
by Aileen Ribeiro.
Princeton, 256 pp., £60, November 2000, 0 691 05092 9
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Giorgio Armani 
by Germano Celant and Harold Koda.
Abrams, 392 pp., £40, October 2000, 0 8109 6927 0
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... in a scoop-neck shirt beneath his doublet; and three men of the 1930s in the liberal uniform of an open-necked blue shirt – the anthropologist Humfry Gilbert Garth Payne, Stephen Spender and Sir WilliamWalton. Conversely, almost all the women pictured in the book expose neck dimples, if not deep décolletage. Those who do not, whether the Duchess of Windsor in a triple-pearl choker, Dorothy Sayers ...
7 August 1980
Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... as an actor and a voice as well as a writer. A guest list for a Features party planned in 1951 included Henry Reed, Lawrence Durrell. Christopher Fry, C. Day Lewis, Lennox Berkeley, Michael Tippett, WilliamWalton, Laurie Lee and Stevie Smith. Until the early Fifties the BBC appeared to get a good return from its policy of patronising highbrow talent. From the inauguration of the Italia Prize in 1949 ...

At Driscoll Babcock

Christopher Benfey: The Shock of the Old

15 June 2016
... from New York City – made the news was in 2005, when the New York Public Library, strapped for cash, sold Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits (1849), for $35 million, to the Walmart heiress Alice Walton for her Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. The controversy surrounding the sale, with the usual hand-wringing about cultural patrimony versus institutional needs, obscured the fact that few members ...
7 August 1980
A Dictionary of the English Language 
by Samuel Johnson.
Times, 2558 pp., £45, June 1980, 0 7230 0228 2
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Dictionary Johnson: Samuel Johnson’s Middle Years 
by James Clifford.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £10, February 1980, 0 434 13805 3
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... Pope complete, including the Iliad and the Odyssey. Addison complete. Steele complete. Swift complete. Prior, Gay and Arbuthnot. Thomson’s Seasons. For theology he went to Hooker, Tillotson, William Law and Robert South. For technical and ‘philosophic’ (i.e. scientific) expressions he went to John Ray’s Wisdom of God in the Creation, Grew’s Cosmologia Sacra, William Derham’s Physico ...

Chicory and Daisies

Stephanie Burt: William​ Carlos Williams

7 March 2002
Collected Poems: Volume I 
by William​ Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton​ Litz and Christopher MacGowan.
Carcanet, 579 pp., £12.95, December 2000, 1 85754 522 2
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Collected Poems: Volume II 
by William​ Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton​ Litz and Christopher MacGowan.
Carcanet, 553 pp., £12.95, December 2000, 1 85754 523 0
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... The painters have paid too much attention to the ism and not enough to the painting,’ William Carlos Williams wrote in 1928. Something similar could be said about Williams’s own critics: since his death in 1963, attention to his theories and to his life has been getting in the way of his ...

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