Mary-Kay Wilmers

Mary-Kay Wilmers helped to found the LRB in 1979 and was its editor for many years. Her pieces have been collected as Human Relations and Other Difficulties. She is now the paper’s consulting editor.

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 September 2017

It​ was John who had the idea that I should say something about his professional life at his funeral. It was a very nice idea and I’m glad – not to say flattered – that he had it. But I found it a spookily hard thing to do. ‘Spooky’ because every time I thought I had a point to make I heard myself checking it with John – ‘Is that right?’...

Subjective Correlative

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 11 August 2016

In January​ 1961 I came to London and started looking for a job. I’d graduated the previous June and been told by the person in charge of women’s appointments that the best I could hope for was a job as a typist. In March I started work at Faber, as the advertising manager’s secretary. Faber was T.S. Eliot’s firm: my father was very impressed. I shared an office with...

Diary: On Jenny Diski

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 19 May 2016

I’m​ Jenny Diski. You therefore aren’t,’ Jenny Diski said in a piece she’d been eager to write about a new edition of The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, a book – famous in its day – about three long-term asylum inmates each of whom believed he was Christ. We are who we are, Milton Rokeach, the book’s author, argued, because we know that by definition...

What a Mother: Marianne Moore and Her Mother

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 3 December 2015

Marianne Moore was born in her mother’s childhood bedroom; grown up, she lived with her mother – most often shared her bed – until her mother died. She was then 59 and her mother 85; she lived another 25 years and died a happy spinster, a famous poet and a grande dame. Mary Warner Moore – the mother in question – had scarcely had a mother, which must be to the point. The one she was born to died two years later and the aunt who replaced her was judged unsatisfactory and dismissed after less than a year – two mothers lost before she was three.

Diary: Karl Miller Remembered

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 October 2014

I got to know Karl Miller in the 1960s, when I was in my mid-twenties and he was in his early thirties. He was the literary editor of the New Statesman and I was a junior editor – ‘a young editor here’, my boss used to say – at Faber and Faber. I didn’t know him well – a friend of mine, Francis Hope, was his assistant – but I talked to him at parties and once or twice I had lunch with him (I remember being told to eat my meat). He was a charismatic figure, tall, fair, slim, nattily dressed, flirtatious and a little wayward – a head-spinner. But severe too. You minded your words and that was part of the attraction.

Amativeness was the cause of Isabella Robinson's disgrace:

Soon after they met in Edinburgh, Combe examined Isabella’s skull. He informed her that she had an unusually large cerebellum, an organ found just above the hollow at the nape of the neck. The cerebellum, he explained, was the seat of Amativeness, or sexual love.

George Combe, natural philosopher and Edinburgh sage, was...

Peter Campbell: On Peter Campbell

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 17 November 2011

The fox on the cover of this issue is walking past Peter Campbell’s house in South London, the house (he wrote about it in the LRB in September) where he and his wife had lived since 1963. Peter died – in that house – on 25 October and the picture on the cover is the last one he painted.

Peter was always at the heart of the LRB. He designed the first issue in October 1979...

What if you hadn’t been home: Joan Didion

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 3 November 2011

This is how it begins: ‘July 26 2010. Today would be her wedding anniversary.’ Joan Didion’s daughter, Quintana Roo, was married at the Cathedral of St John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue in New York in 2003. Dates are important. In a writer as fastidious as Didion they carry a lot of weight. Detail matters too, sometimes more than the main thing, or instead of it.

Frank Kermode: On Frank Kermode

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 September 2010

Papers speak through their writers. And of all the London Review’s writers Frank Kermode was the one through whom we spoke most often and most eloquently. In all he wrote nearly 250 pieces for the LRB, the first in October 1979, a review of J.F.C. Harrison’s book on millenarianism, the last, in May this year, a review of Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel...

Short Cuts: remembering Paul Foot

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 19 August 2004

‘Hanratty! The name which has haunted the British criminal justice system for a generation is about to hit the headlines again.’ Paul Foot wrote that in the LRB in December 1997. The terrible thing, for people who were the same age as Paul and knew him and liked him, is that he has died and Hanratty hasn’t been proved innocent. Yet.

Paul wrote sixty pieces for the LRB; the...

Short Cuts: remembering D.A.N. Jones

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 2 January 2003

‘On Good Friday 1984 I found myself laying a wreath at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Baghdad. This was to me extraordinary. I belong to the Church of England and have no wish to take sides in the quarrels of Muslims.’ The writer is D.A.N. Jones, who between 1980 and 1992 wrote 64 pieces for this paper and who died on 23 November.

He had arrived in Baghdad the previous...

From The Blog
19 November 2015

On Tuesday Sam and I went to see his doctor. We took the subway but weren't sure which train. A workman told us then asked where we were from. ‘You’re so lucky,’ he said when I told him we were from London. 'In this country the individual isn’t allowed to protect himself.’ Presumably that was a reference of some kind to gun control. Perhaps he thought we didn’t have it and he did. In the doctor's waiting room, the patient before us had thought she should cancel: ‘It didn’t seem the right day to be travelling into Manhattan.’ She'd come from Brooklyn. The doctor’s phone rang while we were with him. He looked at it and left the room. He came back smiling. The call was from his son’s elementary school. Two boys from the neighbouring high school had phoned to say there was a bomb in the building. The police were summoned, the school was evacuated, the children were allowed home.

Diary: Brussels

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 29 July 1999

‘Adjustment, no matter how comfortable it appears to be, is never freedom.’ David Reisman said that in The Lonely Crowd, a work of academic/pop sociology, published in the US in the late Forties; much read and remarked on at the time, and now forgotten. I looked it up the other day when I was due to say something at the South Bank Centre in connection with the Cities on the Move exhibition at the Hayward. Reisman divided social behaviour into three categories: ‘anomic’, ‘adjusted’ and ‘autonomous’. ‘Anomie’ is bad – everyone knows that – and something that has long been associated with urban life. But who could be sure, as David Reisman was, that an ‘autonomous’ citizen, no matter how uncomfortable, was better off than one who had taken the trouble to adjust – unless they’d told themselves that adjustment was un-American, the sort of feebleness Charlton Heston might despise? And if you could choose one or other way of being which would you go for? And where would you live?’‘

Diary: Distant Relatives

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 August 1994

A distant relative of mine was a general in the KGB. ‘As long as I live,’ Stalin said of him, ‘not a hair of his head shall be touched.’ Stalin didn’t keep his word – which can’t have been wholly surprising even then. Unlike many of his colleagues, however, my relative wasn’t shot: he was beaten and tortured and kept in prison for 12 years. He died in 1981 with – I’ve been told – a portrait of Stalin by his bed.’

Diary: The Menopause

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 10 October 1991

I have complained a lot about men in my time. In fact, I do it more and more. But I have never been part of what used to be called the women’s movement and those who have or who are, or who have never wanted to be, would probably consider me a retard of some kind. I didn’t do consciousness-raising with my sisters in the late Sixties. I was married at the time and it seemed to me that if my consciousness were raised another millimetre I would go out of my mind. 1 used to think then that had I had the chance to marry Charles Darwin (or Einstein or Metternich) I might have been able to accept the arrangements that marriage entails a little more gracefully. In the Eighties, long since divorced, I decided that marriage to Nelson Mandela (or Terry Waite) would have suited me fine.

Goodness me

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 26 October 1989

Mrs Thatcher, like Hedda Gabler, thinks of herself as her father’s daughter. For a hero, Alderman Roberts may be lacking in style. ‘A cautious, thrifty fellow’ is how Hugo Young describes him and it’s easy to tell he isn’t impressed. But Alfred Roberts was an imposing figure in Grantham and his businesses worked at a time when a great many failed. What we chiefly know of his wife, the elusive Beatrice, is that her daughter wishes her not to be known at all. Young calls Mrs Roberts ‘a practical downtrodden woman’, and in a photograph taken at a Rotarian dinner she is said to be ‘shy and dour-faced’. Mrs Thatcher may have gone too far in excluding the customary reference to her mother from the account of herself that she gives in Who’s Who, but the Prime Minister always goes too far. Only a Freudian committed to the notion that – in the home and in the House – women are nature’s Wets would fail to see why the young Margaret Roberts should have decided that her future depended on not taking after her mother. Leo Abse, however, is a Freudian of precisely that kind.’


Mary-Kay Wilmers, 27 July 1989

It’s a characteristic of all Sybille Bedford’s fiction to tell the reader less than he wants to know. Ivy Compton-Burnett was a friend of hers and perhaps gave her lessons in leaving things out. She calls Jigsaw, which has to do with her own early life, ‘a biographical novel’; and it may not be a coincidence that the book’s most sympathetic reviewers have been those who seem already to know her life story. ‘Truth,’ one of the characters remarks, ‘is such a feeble excuse for so many things.’ Bedford, always inclined to look down her nose at the rest of the world, would probably consider it an excuse for being very boring. She was born in 1911 and doesn’t think much of ‘our tell-all age’.


Mary-Kay Wilmers, 10 November 1988

Almost every woman I know has at one time or another been to bed with a man she shouldn’t have been to bed with – a married man, a friend’s man or, quite simply, a man who wasn’t her man. It may be that some of them allowed themselves to be talked into it and afterwards wished they hadn’t and it may be that someone (usually someone else) suffered for it, but to call these events ‘seductions’ would be to try to give them a status which they no longer enjoy. Seducers had victims, not partners in crime, and to seduce someone was to lead them astray, not merely to lead them to bed. ‘I like to think I’m a sort of gay bachelor, Don Juan or Casanova,’ Fiona Pitt-Kethley says at the beginning of her startling account of the sights she saw and the men she laid in the course of two journeys to Italy in search of the lairs of the sibyls and other poets and prophets of the Ancient world. She doesn’t, she adds, ‘give the men anything to complain of’, doesn’t ‘promise permanence’ or ‘leave them holding the baby’; and in that sense, however inviting or provocative her behaviour, whatever her state of dress or undress, what she describes isn’t seduction but casual sex.’

Diary: Putting in the Commas

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 15 September 1988

In December 1947 the American writer Susan Sontag was invited to have tea with Thomas Mann. She was 14, a high-minded schoolgirl full of literature and the seriousness of life. She had one friend, and this boy, her disciple, had written to Thomas Mann, who was then living in California, telling him that they had been reading his books and admired them above all others. The young Miss Sontag was shocked that a great writer should be disturbed by two schoolchildren; and shocked again when the great writer acknowledged their letter with an invitation to tea. It seemed ‘grotesque’, she said, that Mann should waste his time meeting her; and besides, she asked, why would she want to meet him when she already had his books. The visit took place the following Sunday, and her disappointment was so painful that for forty years she didn’t mention it to anyone. It wasn’t that she and her friend made fools of themselves or that Mann himself gave them a hard time. He wasn’t forbidding or scornful or difficult to understand – all of which she had expected. On the contrary, what he said was too easy – banal, pompous and boring. ‘I wouldn’t have minded,’ she says now, ‘if he had talked like a book. I wanted him to talk like a book. What I was obscurely starting to mind was that he talked like a book review.’’


Mary-Kay Wilmers, 29 October 1987

‘You must explain to me why Cyril wants Barbara,’ Evelyn Waugh wrote to Ann Fleming in September 1955, a year after Barbara Skelton’s marriage to Cyril Connolly had formally ended. ‘It’s not as though she were rich or a good housekeeper or the mother of his children.’ The following year Edmund Wilson asked Connolly, now two years into his divorce, why he didn’t get someone else. ‘I’m still on the flypaper,’ Connolly replied. ‘I’ve got most of my legs loose, but I haven’t yet quite got off.’ A few months later Skelton married her next husband, George Weidenfeld. Connolly took to his bed, where his ex-wife, according to Wilson, sometimes brought him a bowl of soup.

The Charm before the Storm

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 July 1987

Stuck in the country, bored and vaguely discontented, with themselves, their lives or the way things are, half the heroes in Russian fiction appear to be waiting for something to happen while the other half, in varying degrees of relief or despair, settle down to the thought that nothing will – not in their lifetime. Tolstoy might not have made so much of Levin’s contentment had contentment not been so hard to find. These are large and uneasy generalisations, but it can sometimes seem as if most of what was written in Russia before 1917 was written in the expectation of upheaval.’

God’s Iceberg

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 December 1986

Some passengers were playing cards in the second-class smoking-room when the Titanic hit the iceberg. It was Sunday night, quite late, and most people had gone to bed. One card-player had seen the iceberg go by a few minutes before, ‘towering above the decks’. He pointed it out to the others: they watched it briefly, then went back to their game. No one was interested enough to go out and take a closer look. One man, indicating his glass of whisky, turned to a bystander and suggested he run along the deck to see if any stray pieces of ice had come on board.

Lady Rothermere’s Fan

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 November 1985

‘We missed you at Chantilly,’ Ann Fleming wrote to Evelyn Waugh in 1956, after she’d been to visit Diana Cooper in France. ‘Mr Gaitskell came to lunch and fell in love with Diana … He had never seen cocktails with mint in them or a magnum of pink champagne. He was very happy. I lied and told him that all the upper class were beautiful and intelligent and he must not allow his vermin to destroy them.’ Mrs Fleming wrote a great many letters to Evelyn Waugh, telling him where she’d had lunch and where she’d had supper and who’d been there and made a fool of himself. It can’t be said that there’s anything in them that the rest of the world badly needs to know; and some people might find her tone of voice offensive. On the other hand, the letters were written for Waugh and he liked them. The question that’s hard to answer is: why are we reading them now?

Fortress Freud

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 18 April 1985

Psychoanalysts have a difficult relationship with the rest of the world – or, as they sometimes call it, ‘the goyim’. Janet Malcolm’s two very striking books of reportage, Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession and In the Freud Archives, make this clear. Freud’s wife, according to her grandson, ‘divided the world into those who knew of grandfather and those who did not’. The latter, he said, ‘did not play any role in her life’. In that sense every analyst is Freud’s wife and lives in a world entirely taken up with psychoanalytic concerns. Sometimes it seems that they hardly know what may happen in real life and fear it accordingly. On the night of the New York black-out in 1965 someone I know was with his analyst. As the lights went out the analyst – not the patient – jumped out of his chair and shouted: ‘They’re coming to get me.’ Psychoanalysts have had good reasons for considering themselves beleaguered, but for the past twenty years at least, the world, being less interested in them, has been less interested than they imagine in finding them out. ‘No decent analyst would let his picture appear in the Times,’ one New York analyst snapped at another, as if he had caught him sneaking his image into the temple of Baal. Ms Malcolm speaks of the ‘chilly castle of psychoanalysis’ and admires its austerities. One might less admiringly think of it as Fortress Freud and question whether it too needs to be so insistently defended.’

Sisters’ Keepers

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 June 1984

Keeping women, like keeping horses, is one of the many things the rich can do that other people can’t. They may do it for reasons of financial prudence but if so it’s the sort of prudence that only the rich can afford. One of the girls Edna Salamon talked to met her man in a lift: ‘I told him that I was really hard up and if he wanted to go out with me he’d have to pay me … He asked if £500 was enough.’ She said £50 would do and hasn’t been hard up from that day to this. There must be men who don’t find it easy to keep a mistress as well as a wife but the ones Ms Salamon met in the course of her researches generally claimed that ‘it made more economic sense’ than going through a divorce. ‘He didn’t want me to have any less luxury than his wife,’ a middle-aged Texan said of her lover: ‘I always had a new car to drive – lovely clothes – memberships at the best private clubs.’ The prudence may be as much emotional as financial: an abandoned wife whose former husband didn’t want her to have any less luxury than his girlfriend would have less reason to feel grateful. Or it may not be a matter of prudence at all. Even the nicest husbands must have more fun buying zippy cars for their doxies than sedans for their wives.–

Vita Longa

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 1 December 1983

‘Contemplating a worn piece of green velvet on her dressing table, I felt my whole being dissolve in love. I have never ceased to love her from that moment.’ The person who said that was known as Christopher St John, though her real name was Christabel Marshall. We know how she felt about the object of her passion, Vita Sackville-West, because she kept a ‘love-journal’ in Vita’s honour. Miss Sackville-West, who had recently (and most unusually) been abandoned by another woman, allowed Miss St John to hold her hand. She even allowed her, Victoria Glendinning reports, to accompany her in her car ‘all the way’ to Tonbridge: in Tonbridge Christopher was put on a train back to London. But on the way out of London – on the Westminster Bridge Road, to be precise – Vita had ‘stretched out her left hand’ and told Christopher that she loved her, and when they got to the station in Tonbridge Vita parked the car in a side street and gave Christopher ‘a lover’s kiss’. (‘I never knew unalloyed bliss with V. except on that November day.’) The lover’s kiss was followed by ‘one night of love’. Then it was all over.–


Mary-Kay Wilmers, 3 March 1983

One evening in December 1975 David Plante called on his friend, the novelist Jean Rhys, who was staying in a hotel in South Kensington: ‘a big dreary hotel’, she said, ‘filled with old people whom they won’t allow to drink sweet vermouth’. She was sitting in what the receptionist called ‘the pink lounge’, wearing a pink hat. She was then in her eighties. He kissed her and told her she was looking marvellous. ‘Don’t lie to me,’ she said, ‘I’m dying.’ After supper and a great deal of drink, they went up to her room: ‘sometimes her cane got caught between her legs and I had to straighten it.’ They drank some more and talked about her life. Five hours later, David Plante got up, took a pee and told her he had to leave.‘ “Before you go,” she said, “help me to the toilet.” ’ He took her there and left her, in her pink hat, holding onto the washbasin. Sometime later she called to him.

Attila the Hus

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 November 1982

Nicholas Mosley’s parents, Cynthia Curzon and Oswald Mosley, were married in the Chapel Royal, St James’s on 11 May 1920: ‘Cimmie’s wedding dress had a design of green leaves in it, in defiance of a superstition that green at a wedding was unlucky: there was also a superstition that it was unlucky to be married in May. Cimmie herself chose the music: during the handing-over of the ring the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde was played; though the organist, a newspaper reported, did his best to make it inaudible.’ She was 21 and sometimes described as ‘wild’; her father, Lord Curzon, former Viceroy of India, fearing what he called her ‘bolshevick’ tendencies, was relieved that she had chosen a reasonably promising young man whose family he knew. Mosley, Robert Cecil reported to Curzon, was ‘not in the first flight’ but had ‘a good future before him’. He was two years older than Cimmie; very dashing (though Curzon at once remarked on his ‘rather Jewish appearance’), and the youngest MP in the House. He was then a Tory. Cimmie had wanted a small, quiet wedding, but the King and Queen were present, as were the King and Queen of the Belgians, who were flown across the Channel in two two-seater aeroplanes for the occasion. The marriage lasted 13 years and there were three children – Nicholas was the eldest son. In May 1933 Cimmie died. A memorial service was held at St Margaret’s, Westminster, where, once again, the Liebestod was played.

Patty and Cin

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 6 May 1982

‘I grew up,’ says Patricia Hearst, describing what life had once been like for the granddaughter of Citizen Kane, ‘in an atmosphere of clear blue skies, bright sunshine, rambling open spaces, long green lawns, large comfortable houses, country clubs with swimming-pools and tennis courts and riding horses.’ It must have been a nice life, and would look pretty in the cinema, but heroines endear themselves by their difficulties and until the SLA kidnapped her Patricia Hearst’s only difficulty was that she was a bit short. Five foot two – not a dwarf, but her girlfriends were taller. ‘Most things came easily to me,’ she says a little later,‘sports, social relationships, schoolwork, life. I had only to apply myself to them and I found I could do them well, to my own satisfaction.’ Is she trying to tell us that it was especially brutal of the SLA to intervene in a life that ran so smoothly, or is it that she wants us to know that she wasn’t some kind of neurotic who could be expected to crack up in difficult circumstances?

Divorce me

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 17 December 1981

Twelve years ago Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy got divorced after ten years of marriage. In the unhappiness that followed he thought about himself and about society: would it break down too? In 1969, the year Mr Gathorne-Hardy got his decree nisi, there were 60,000 divorces in Britain: in 1980 there were 150,000. ‘During the last century of the Roman Empire, as a great civilisation collapsed, a raging epidemic of divorces roared unchecked.’ A terrifying parallel? Seemingly not. ‘Even quite general knowledge about the past can have a calming effect,’ Gathorne-Hardy says and he should know because his knowledge is very general. ‘Roman culture’ was ‘too superficial to withstand the temptations that beset it’, and ‘the result was a moral collapse which we do not only not approach but can barely envisage.’ (The source for Gathorne-Hardy’s remarks about the Roman Empire is Jerome Carcopino’s Daily Life in Ancient Rome, published in translation by Routledge in 1941, when Carcopino was Minister of National Education in the Vichy Government.) What’s happening to us is much grander: a ‘vast reorganisation of the modern psyche’, a ‘profound change in human consciousness’.

Death and the Maiden

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 6 August 1981

Alice James died in London at the age of 43, regretting only that she would not have the pleasure of knowing and reporting herself dead. The reporting was done instead by her favourite brother: ‘I went to the window to let in a little more of the afternoon light, and when I went back to the bed she had drawn the breath that was not succeeded by another,’ Henry James wrote to their eldest brother, William, in America, as if, in the now fashionable way, defining death to a Martian. Eager to do what justice she could to the occasion, Alice had sent William a farewell telegram the day before, which Henry later confirmed. William, nonetheless, feared that her death might simply be an illusion: ‘her neurotic temperament & chronically reduced vitality are just the field for trance-tricks to play themselves upon.’ It was very like William – or her idea of William – to try to rob her of her greatest, her only achievement.

Portrait of the Artist as an Old Fraud

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 2 April 1981

‘I’m not a very nice man, you know,’ L.S. Lowry said of himself. Mrs Marshall, his friend, would not disagree. Although for the last 14 years of his life she and her husband spent some part of almost every day in his company, she now describes him as having been ‘a millstone round our necks’. No blame attaches to her for not subscribing to the old idea that if you are creative you need not be nice, but it’s usual for people to like their friends. In 14 years Mrs Marshall seems to have had one moment of fondness for Lowry, which was when he fell downstairs: ‘I can feel again the overwhelming sense of pity and affection for him as I recall him lying crumpled on the floor.’

Young Love

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 December 1980

The radical case for paedophilia is that children like it, and if there were more of it the world would be a better place. ‘Sex by eight or it’s too late’ – too late because the guilt is already on the gingerbread. Tom O’Carroll, prosy successor to Lewis O’Carroll and leading light of PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange, takes the view that what is nice for him would be good for everyone. ‘A climate in which children come to view all consensual sex, including consensual paedophilia, positively and without guilt may be necessary for the welfare of everyone.’ ‘Consensual sex’, mutually agreed and mutually agreeable: is there anything unreasonable in wanting it for oneself but not for one’s children – or Mr O’Carroll?

Narcissism and its Discontents

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 February 1980

Staying in Castries for the wedding was a young man called Mr Kennaway. When he watches me I can see that he doesn’t think I am pretty. Oh God, let me be pretty when I grow up.

From The Blog
29 December 2009

Betsy Blair, a good friend of the London Review, whose charmed life was recently remembered in the New York Times’s 'The Lives They Led’, died last March. She once wrote a piece for the paper about informers, the FBI, the Hollywood blacklist and what you get when the FBI finally releases your file.

From The Blog
9 October 2009

I was looking in the mirror and it occurred to me that jamais un coup de peigne n'abolira le hasard.


Destined to Disappear

19 October 2016

Mary-Kay Wilmers writes: As it happens Pankaj Mishra quoted Tom Buchanan quoting the same passage in his review of Niall Ferguson’s Civilisation (LRB, 3 November 2011). Strange.


25 January 2001

More on Tyson the lapsed psychoanalyst: he used to say he’d have liked to pin a note to the wall of his consulting room, legible from the couch, that read: ‘Least said soonest mended.’
Mary-Kay Wilmers writes: Has Terry Kelly got a summer job at Bandung Productions (prop: Tariq Ali)? The provenance of his fax suggests so.

Plain Speaking

10 November 1988

Mary-Kay Wilmers writes: Christopher Ricks is right to chastise me for not looking up what he said, though I’m sorry he has taken the lapse so darkly to heart. I remembered the remark because I don’t quite see the connection that Professor Ricks seems to see between good looks and good times; I misremembered it because I think of good looks as something that men have required of women but...

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences