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The Lady Vanishes

Zoë Heller, 20 July 1995

The Last of the Duchess 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £16.99, April 1995, 0 333 63062 9
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... Blum’s awfulness, but we get a strong sense of it, in the relish with which she recounts the old lady’s ‘terrorist threat’.) Still, there is a limit to the amusement value of even the most dramatic battiness, and the fact remains that Blum, as Blackwood’s star witness, is next to useless as a source of reliable information. Blackwood responds to this ...

Alexander Blok’s Beautiful Lady

T.J. Binyon, 7 August 1980

The Life of Aleksandr Blok: Vol. 1: ‘The Distant Thunder 1880-1908’ 
by Avril Pyman.
Oxford, 359 pp., £12.50, January 1979, 0 19 211714 9
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... and golden and full of fun’, that Blok fell in love in 1900. The Verses about the Most Beautiful Lady, written over the next two years, are both a lyrical diary of this love, and an attempt to convey a mystical experience – a revelation of divine harmony. The mysterious Lady, infinitely beyond the poet’s reach, yet at ...

Lady Chatterley’s Sneakers

David Trotter, 30 August 2012

... In a letter written in July 1926, a couple of months before he embarked on the first version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence gave voice – as he often did – to the hatred he felt for ‘our most modern world’. Tin cans and ‘imitation tea’ feature prominently on his list of things not to like about being ‘most modern ...

All hail, sage lady

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’, 15 December 2016

... We have a long way to go – I predict countless, well-shod episodes, from Lilibet’s brogues to Lady Diana’s Jimmy Choos – and the emerging picture of a disappearing Britain may be too intoxicating to resist. The islands that these people ruled over are no more, or no more what they were, and the fog of cursing and conspiracy that distinguishes The ...

Lady Talky

Alison Light: Lydia Lopokova, 18 December 2008

Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes 
by Judith Mackrell.
Weidenfeld, 476 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 0 297 84908 7
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... to Vanessa; Lydia’s ‘spiritual home’ was Woolworths, Clive Bell sneered. Admittedly ‘Lady Talky’ (as Keynes liked to call her) chattered merrily to Vanessa when she was trying to paint, ruining the precious little time she had to work; but they certainly looked down on her as a prole. When Virginia remarked snidely that Lydia had been racketing ...

The Lady in the Van

Alan Bennett, 26 October 1989

... stops me and says: ‘Tell me, is she a genuine eccentric?’ April 1970 Today we moved the old lady’s van. An obstruction order had been put under the windscreen wiper, stating that it was stationed outside No 63 and is a danger to public health. This order, Miss S. insists, is a statutory order: ‘And statutory means standing, in this case standing ...

Lady Rothermere’s Fan

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 November 1985

The Letters of Ann Fleming 
edited by Mark Amory.
Collins, 448 pp., £16.50, October 1985, 0 00 217059 0
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... various occasions she’d attended (‘Noël was making eminent playwright conversation to leading lady ... He should be used as a cabaret and not as a guest ... the deserts of pomposity between the oases of wit are too vast’); the look of delight on George Wigg’s face when Debo Devonshire asked him if he would tap her telephone and the ‘terrible ...

Pound and the Perfect Lady

Donald Davie, 19 September 1985

Pound’s Artists: Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts in London, Paris and Italy 
by Richard Humphreys.
Tate Gallery, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 946590 28 1
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Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters 1909-1914 
edited by Omar Pound and A. Walton Litz.
Faber, 399 pp., £25, January 1985, 0 571 13480 7
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... really belong with other Poundiana. Its place is at least equally with The Diary of an Edwardian Lady, or even, since through long months the lovers are at opposite ends of Italy, with E.M. Forster’s Room with a View. Its fragrance is real, and penetrating: but it does not release itself at the first casual opening of the pages. And yet the fact must be ...

Our Lady of the Counterculture

Marina Warner: The Virgin Mary, 8 November 2012

... 1987 to celebrate the pope’s third visit to his native country and to the national shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The association spoiled the pleasure the music had given me, for John Paul II had declared again and again his opposition to the changing role of women, rejected the ordination of women and urged closer emulation of Mary. The priesthood, he ...

Is the lady your sister?

E.S. Turner: An innkeeper’s diary, 27 April 2000

An Innkeeper's Diary 
by John Fothergill.
Faber, 278 pp., £23.95, January 2000, 0 571 15014 4
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... exposed engine crackling like a Maxim-gun, or how I might have replied to the question ‘Is the lady your sister?’ Had I been admitted to his finely furnished dining-room (where six shillings for dinner was a steepish charge) could I have displayed as much overt and well-bred enjoyment ‘as all honest people would who keep Rollses and Minervas and eat at ...

Why did Lady Mary care about William Cragh?

Maurice Keen: A medieval miracle, 5 August 2004

The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 168 pp., £16.95, April 2004, 0 691 11719 5
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... Both were promptly strung up again from what were left of the gallows. Before the execution, Lady Mary de Briouze, Lord William’s wife, had pleaded for the men’s lives; now, after they had been hanged a second time, she begged her husband to grant her at least what was left of Cragh, and he finally acceded. John de Baggeham, his steward, cut down the ...

They called her Lady Di

James Buchan, 18 August 1994

Thinking Green! Essays on Environmentalism, Feminism and Non-Violence 
by Petra Kelly.
Parallax, 168 pp., £15, April 1994, 0 938077 62 7
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... her eat or drink anything, and she said she slept very little. Her celebrity – they called her Lady Di – was more than ever envied. Her office work was chaotic, a very serious offence in Germany. In 1984, Bastian resigned in a quixotic effort to protect her, but she stayed on, in defiance of the party congress that demanded she give up her mandate, until ...

Did Lady Brewster faint?

Eric Korn, 24 April 1997

Huxley: Evolution’s High Priest 
by Adrian Desmond.
Joseph, 372 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 7181 3882 1
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... of the battle in friends’ albums – I have seen two – but not until twenty years later. Did Lady Brewster faint? Did Fitzroy wave his Bible like a flail? Did Hooker save the day for progress when Huxley couldn’t speak for temper? (Hooker thought so.) Did Huxley murmur: ‘the Lord hath delivered him into my ...

Lady Thatcher’s Bastards

Iain Sinclair, 27 February 1992

Class War: A Decade of Disorder 
edited by Ian Bone, Alan Pullen and Tim Scargill.
Verso, 113 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 0 86091 558 1
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... to ‘a decade of disorder’, were forced to compete with the more potent brand offered by Lady Thatcher and her acolytes. Punch-ups with council officials in London Fields, however satisfying, could hardly match government-sanctioned political assassinations in Gibraltar, or aerial ram-raids over Libya. They could never go far enough. They could only ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities, 15 November 2007

The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... of him’. Ruth Lang isn’t exactly Cherie Blair, either. She’s one part Cherie, two parts Lady Macbeth (a character Lang once played in a student production), three parts Eve (why Lang is called Adam, presumably). The narrator easily falls for her sophisticated wiles: intelligent, witty, genuinely attractive (in contrast to her husband’s vacuous ...

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