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Martha Jane and Me: A Girlhood in Wales 
by Mavis Nicholson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 0 7011 3356 2
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Vanessa Redgrave: An Autobiography 
Hutchinson, 300 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 09 174593 4Show More
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... chanted to each other by working-class kids in school bogs and allotment sheds, under the street light, at the bouncing back of the bus, serve a tribal purpose, emphasising the solidarity of the insider and initiate. But usually, also, as Mavis indicates, there is ‘something interesting’, to us as to her. The TV pro who can date any of the famous she ...
Stories in an Almost Classical Mode 
by Harold Brodkey.
Knopf, 596 pp., $24.95, September 1988, 0 394 50699 5
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... mother, father, older sister, immigrant nursemaid – and the narrator, Wiley, who also appears as Alan Cohn and Harold ‘Buddy’ Brodkey. Adopted at two, Wiley/Alan/Buddy goes through several distinct phases: damaged infant, beautiful child, ugly and precocious young boy, ungainly, brooding adolescent. His point of ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004, 6 January 2005

... 3 January. Alan Bates dies on 27 December and we break the journey from Yorkshire at Derby in order to go to his funeral. It’s at Bradbourne, a tiny village the taxi-driver has never heard of, and he and his Asian colleagues have a map session before we eventually head off into the Derbyshire hills. The cab is old and draughty, it’s beginning to snow and as we drive through this landscape of lost villages and frostbitten fields it gets more and more foggy and like a journey out of Le Grand Meaulnes ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... seemed less crass and been easier to swallow. (A voice from a French lakeside: ‘But, my dear Alan, why should it be easy to swallow? I didn’t want it to be “easy to swallow” as you put it.’) There are odd surprises in Lambert’s book. That Lindsay should have had a stab at transcendental meditation and even been given a mantra is understandable ...


Stuart Hampshire, 16 February 1984

Alan Turing: The Enigma 
by Andrew Hodges.
Burnett, 587 pp., £18, October 1983, 0 09 152130 0
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... This is a very long biography, and before it appeared Alan Turing was not very well-known; his genius was of a kind that is not likely to be spread abroad. An immense amount of work has gone into this book, which expresses profound, and sometimes almost obsessional, admiration. It is not hagiography, but rather a study of a hero, an intellectual hero ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Hating Football, 27 June 2002

... kind of sophistication has yet to cause the generally football-appalled like myself to see the light. I have this bunch of pals in London who are mainly Scottish but who play in a team called the Battersea Juniors. They are more persuasive in this regard. The team is a bit up-and-down, a bit part-time, even for a Saturday league, but I went to see them ...

Radical Heritage

Conrad Russell, 1 September 1988

Bertrand Russell: A Political Life 
by Alan Ryan.
Allen Lane, 226 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 7139 9005 8
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... heirs are not necessarily the infallible custodians of his or her political legacy. The fact that Alan Ryan’s view of Bertrand Russell and my own are very closely similar is not, therefore, proof that we are both right. It is merely proof that our perceptions are compatible with a thorough knowledge of the evidence, and perhaps reason for suspecting that he ...

Everybody behaved perfectly

Eric Hobsbawm: Hilde’s Two Husbands, 25 August 2011

Scientist Spies: A Memoir of My Three Parents and the Atom Bomb 
by Paul Broda.
Troubador, 333 pp., £17.50, April 2011, 978 1 84876 607 5
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... on the atom-bomb project between 1942 and 1945: Berti, or Engelbert Egon August Ernst Broda, and Alan Nunn May, who was sentenced to ten years for it. Broda, who probably had the longer record of relations with Moscow, was never tried though seen as heavily suspect by the British security services. As it happens, I knew or met all three as well as a very ...

MacDiarmid’s Sticks

C.H. Sisson, 5 April 1984

Whaur Extremes Meet: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 1920-1934 
by Catherine Kerrigan.
James Thin, 245 pp., £12.50, June 1983, 0 901824 69 0
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Elemental Things: The Poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid 
by Harvey Oxenhorn.
Edinburgh, 215 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 85224 475 4
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Aesthetics in Scotland 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Mainstream, 100 pp., £6.95, February 1984, 0 906391 60 1
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Annals of the Five Senses 
by Hugh MacDiarmid and Alan Bold.
Polygon, 161 pp., £6.50, July 1983, 0 904919 74 9
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Hugh MacDiarmid: The Terrible Crystal 
by Alan Bold.
Routledge, 251 pp., £9.95, August 1983, 0 7100 9493 0
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Hugh MacDiarmid (C.M. Grieve) 
by Kenneth Buthlay.
Scottish Academic Press, 143 pp., £3.25, September 1982, 0 7073 0307 9
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The Thistle Rises: An Anthology of Poetry and Prose by Hugh MacDiarmid 
edited by Alan Bold.
Hamish Hamilton, 463 pp., £12.95, February 1984, 0 241 11171 4
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A Scottish Poetry Book 
by Alan Bold, Bob Dewar, Iain McIntosh and Rodger McPhail.
Oxford, 128 pp., £4.95, July 1983, 0 19 916029 5
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Edinburgh and the Borders in Verse 
by Allan Massie.
Secker, 97 pp., £5.95, August 1983, 0 436 27348 9
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... with a very great knowledge of the intellectual background of MacDiarmid’s work and so casts light on some dark places. Her study goes up only to 1934, but that means that it covers the whole of the formative period. It is to be hoped that she will one day complete her work with a further volume – a possibility, one gathers, once she is ready with ...


Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... The only figures mentioned are the London allowance totals for last year, which show me in a good light, my claim being just over half those of my neighbours. There is also an editorial remarking on my general saintliness. I derive no satisfaction.  I scribbled a note to Elliot Morley, who whatever his sins, is a decent man and was an excellent ...


Alan Sheridan, 2 July 1981

Teachers, Writers, Celebrities: The Intellectuals of Modern France 
by Régis Debray, translated by David Macey.
New Left Books, 251 pp., £11, May 1981, 0 86091 039 3
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... of the three worlds of the university, publishing and the mass media: ‘Our leading light is a tenured professor, a literary adviser, the editor of one or more series, a member of the readers’ committee in a big publishing house, a journalist, critic and leader-writer on a popular weekly or daily. He has a good old-fashioned spread of titles ...

Common Ground

Edmund Leach, 19 September 1985

A Social History of Western Europe 1450-1720: Tensions and Solidarities among Rural People 
by Sheldon Watts.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 09 156081 0
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Kinship in the Past: An Anthropology of European Family Life 1500-1900 
by Andrejs Plakans.
Blackwell, 276 pp., £24.50, September 1984, 0 631 13066 7
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Interests and Emotion: Essays on the Study of Family and Kinship 
edited by Hans Medick and David Warren Sabean.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 521 24969 4
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... included contributions concerning European history from Norman Cohn, Peter Brown, Keith Thomas and Alan Macfarlane, all professional historians. They were fully integrated with the contributions of the anthropologists. Since that date it has become increasingly common both in this country and elsewhere for historians and social anthropologists to emphasise the ...

The Jains and the Boxer

Douglas Oliver, 31 August 1989

... 2 The boxer imposes 100 per cent will punching harm into harm in sadistic rhythms. He’s called Alan Boum Boum Minter, Mo Hope, Rocky this, Kid or Killer That. His history comes in puffs and spurts. Listen to the bollocky tights, buttocky satins of Bob Fitzsimmons in his longjohns. Since then, all the boxers have fallen, broken-legged spiders, Joe Gans ...

Schools of History

Walter Laqueur, 26 September 1991

Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives 
by Alan Bullock.
HarperCollins, 1187 pp., £20, June 1991, 0 00 215494 3
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Stalin: Breaker of Nations 
by Robert Conquest.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £18.99, September 1991, 0 297 81194 0
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... But a great deal has been said about him ever since and no one has been better at saying it than Alan Bullock. His Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, published in 1952, is still the best biography, and one of the best books on the Nazi phenomenon in general. Only a very few other works come to mind which are in the same league: Konrad Heiden’s history of the Nazi ...

Nobody wants it

José Harris, 5 December 1991

Letters to Eva, 1969-1983 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Century, 486 pp., £20, June 1991, 0 7126 4634 5
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... A cynic? How can I not be when I have spent my life writing history?’ Alan Taylor’s love letters to his Hungarian third wife created a predictably prurient, though transient, stir when they were published earlier this year. Their more lasting interest may lie in the light that they throw upon Taylor the practising historian, musing to a fellow historian about the mysteries of his craft ...

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