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‘Very nice. Who’s next?’

Nick Richardson: ‘Building Stories’, 6 December 2012

Building Stories 
by Chris Ware.
Cape, 246 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 0 224 07812 2
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... of building, and of buildings, in mind. The amputee’s husband is an architect, they live near Frank Lloyd Wright’s old house, and the memorial service for the amputee’s friend who kills herself is held at Wright’s Unity Temple. Ware’s drawings are strictly ruled: many of the frames are organised in series of squares, at regular intervals, with ...

Rinse it in dead champagne

Colm Tóibín: The women who invented beauty, 5 February 2004

War Paint: Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden: Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry 
by Lindy Woodhead.
Virago, 498 pp., £20, April 2003, 1 86049 974 0
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Diana Vreeland 
by Eleanor Dwight.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £30, December 2002, 0 688 16738 1
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... Years later, when much cream had been spread and rouge faded and money spent, figures such as John Richardson, Graham Sutherland and Bruce Chatwin would have dealings with Helena Rubinstein. Rubinstein trusted Richardson, in as much as she trusted anyone, because he told her that certain paintings in her vast art collection ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... despise the press, whatever its complexion, his daily paper generally the Telegraph. But, as Tony Richardson said, ‘he was a sublime and sometimes pugnacious publicist’ and could never resist an interview or an opportunity to sound off, particularly when common sense dictated otherwise. During The Old Crowd, for instance, he was shadowed by Tom Sutcliffe ...


Frank Kermode, 11 May 1995

John Gay: A Profession of Friendship. A Critical Biography 
by David Nokes.
Oxford, 563 pp., £25, February 1995, 0 19 812971 8
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... for making money. Such interests did not prevent his being an obstinate correspondent, as Pope and Richardson knew too well. Having a finger on the public pulse, he also wrote soft porn, ‘up-market erotica’, as Nokes calls it. When Gay joined him Hill was editing the British Apollo, a remote ancestor of Titbits, Answers and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It ...

The Reality Effect

Jon Day: 'Did I think this, or was it Lucy Ellmann?', 5 December 2019

Ducks, Newburyport 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Galley Beggar, 1030 pp., £13.99, September 2019, 978 1 913111 98 4
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... or not she had James’s definition in mind), in a review of the first three volumes of Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage in 1918. Richardson wasn’t convinced: ‘amongst the company of useful labels devised to meet the exigencies of literary criticism,’ she wrote, ‘it stands alone, isolated by its perfect ...

Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... gifted writers. Recognising its usefulness, some critics have tried to refine it further. Frank Kermode, for example, once suggested a distinction between different phases of Modernism, between ‘paleo-modernism’ and ‘neo-modernism’. But the suggestion never caught on, because for many people accuracy of description was not really the ...

My Faults, My Follies

Helen Deutsch: Laetitia Pilkington, ‘Foot-ball of Fortune’, 17 July 2008

Queen of the Wits: A Life of Laetitia Pilkington 
by Norma Clarke.
Faber, 364 pp., £20, February 2008, 978 0 571 22428 9
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... the Memoirs as a remarkable hybrid: as innovatively mock heroic as the Dunciad; as winningly frank and ramblingly anecdotal as the autobiography of her patron, the comic actor and poet laureate Colley Cibber; as dizzying in its inversion of perspective as Gulliver’s Travels; and as sentimental as the novels of Samuel ...

My Dagger into Yow

Ian Donaldson: Sidney’s Letters, 25 April 2013

The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney 
edited by Roger Kuin.
Oxford, 1381 pp., £250, July 2012, 978 0 19 955822 3
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... of Cicero and other classical masters. Those nervous or incapable of writing like this, could, as Richardson had discovered to his profit early in his publishing career, purchase volumes of model letters in English, replete with flourishes and sentiments often alien to the sender, but part nevertheless of the rhetorical currency required for any respectable ...

Great Portland Street Blues

Karl Miller, 25 January 1990

Boswell: The Great Biographer. Journals: 1789-1795 
by James Boswell, edited by Marlies Danziger and Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 432 pp., £25, November 1989, 0 434 89729 9
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... account of Boswell’s later life which was published six years ago by one of the present editors, Frank Brady – is the worse for its author’s frustrations, prostrations and despairs, interesting though he can sometimes make them appear; it conveys what can often seem like a bitter end for the likely lad from Ayrshire; Boswell’s last legs are apt to give ...

Mockney Rebels

Thomas Jones: Lindsay Anderson, 20 July 2000

Mainly about Linsay Anderson 
by Gavin Lambert.
Faber, 302 pp., £18.99, May 2000, 0 571 17775 1
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... Anderson explored the idea of a character challenging the notion of reality as others conceive it: Frank Machin in This Sporting Life (1963) tries (and ultimately fails) to wrest control of his destiny from the forces of the establishment. At one point, in the dressing-room after a rugby match, Machin has a hosepipe turned on him as a joke. His immediate ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... the implications. For almost fifteen years Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson had insisted they were innocent and had been framed by the police. I recalled that Sir Michael Havers, who led for the Crown in the 1975 trial, had reasoned to the jury that if the Four were innocent, a huge conspiracy to pervert the course of justice ...

Inside the system

Paul Foot, 7 December 1989

... miserable days in the witness box, the Home Office scientist who had conducted the Griess test, Dr Frank Skuse, was obliged to revise his trial testimony again and again. He could produce no notes of the ingredients he had used in the tests after the men were arrested. In one case, he agreed he had made a miscalculation which left him with a figure a hundred ...

Azure Puddles

John Bayley, 21 May 1987

Compton Mackenzie: A Life 
by Andro Linklater.
Chatto, 384 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 7011 2583 7
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... He liked to hear and to tell a good story about other writers, and was delighted when his friend Frank Swinnerton ventured to call on John Galsworthy in the country, and reported that the great man had risen from his work-table exclaiming gravely: ‘I say, Swinnerton, this is very sporting of you, very sporting indeed.’ Oddly enough, Walpole has probably ...

Narcissus and Cain

David Bromwich, 6 August 1992

Mary and Maria by Mary Wollstonecraft, Matilda by Mary Shelley 
edited by Janet Todd.
Pickering & Chatto, 217 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 1 85196 023 6
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Lady Sophia Sternheim 
by Sophie von La Roche, edited by James Lynn.
Pickering & Chatto, 216 pp., £24.95, January 1992, 9781851960217
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... forbidden friend. Whereas Sophie von La Roche’s novel is one long rout of balls, formal games, frank exchanges of opinion, serious and less serious viewings of the heroine of the middle rank by the members of the aristocracy into which she fervently hopes to marry. Some of the difference of climate is also a difference of period: La Roche’s acknowledged ...

Out of the Lock-Up

Michael Wood: Wallace Stevens, 2 April 1998

Collected Poetry and Prose 
by Wallace Stevens, edited by Frank Kermode and Joan Richardson.
Library of America, 1032 pp., $35, October 1997, 1 883011 45 0
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... Asked in 1933 what his favourite among his own poems was, Wallace Stevens said he liked best ‘The Emperor of Ice-Cream’, from Harmonium (1923). The work ‘wears a deliberately commonplace costume’, Stevens said, ‘and yet seems to me to contain something of the essential gaudiness of poetry’. He didn’t remember much about writing the poem except ‘the state of mind from which it came’: ‘I dislike niggling, and like letting myself go ...

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