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What did it matter who I was?

Gaby Wood, 19 October 1995

The Blue Suit 
by Richard Rayner.
Picador, 216 pp., £9.99, July 1995, 0 330 33821 8
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The Liar’s Club 
by Mary Karr.
Picador, 317 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 33597 9
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... them. He steals ‘Heinemann firsts of Enderby Outside, Tremor of Intent and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. The Collected Poems of A.E. Housman, Cape 1939, buckram bound. A cased Cassell edition of The Father Brown Stories ... Black Mischief, another old Chapman & Hall first, no dj, but handsome mottled brown boards.’ We may choose to believe ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1989, 11 January 1990

... some hotel.’ It takes me a time to realise that she is not talking about her treasured copies of Anthony Burgess but her social security books.12 March. Names of the Albanian Football Team.The Interpreter: Ilir Agolli.The Manager: Shyqri Rrelli.The Goalkeeper: Blendi Nallbani.2 April. Hotel Terminus, Marcel Ophuls’s documentary on Klaus ...


D.A.N. Jones, 18 September 1986

Search Sweet Country 
by B. Kojo Laing.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 434 40216 8
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The Jewel Maker 
by Tom Gallagher.
Hamish Hamilton, 180 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 241 11866 2
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The Pianoplayers 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 208 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 09 165190 5
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An After-Dinner’s Sleep 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 224 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 09 163620 5
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Coming Home 
by Mervyn Jones.
Piatkus, 263 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 86188 525 2
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... not concentrating his energies on the pursuit of clues. There is more open use of autobiography in Anthony Burgess’s The Pianoplayers. He has told us before (in This Man and Music) the grim story of his infancy in 1918 Manchester. His father came home on leave from the Pay Corps, found his wife and daughter dead from Spanish flu and his baby son the ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... ends up producing a fable very much in their own image.In​ June 1961, the Mancunian polymath Anthony Burgess and his first wife, Lynne, took a holiday in the USSR. In Cold War Leningrad there were echoes for Burgess of his backstreet Manchester childhood. The music of accents: voices that were exotic yet strangely ...

Going Straight

Neal Ascherson, 17 March 1983

After Long Silence 
by Michael Straight.
Collins, 351 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 00 217001 9
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A Matter of Trust: MI5 1945-72 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £8.95, December 1982, 0 297 78253 3
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... ought to be wound up after the publication of Michael Straight’s contribution. Very possibly, Anthony Blunt will one day write such a book himself. But the names have almost all been named, the questions of motive worn smooth, the titles and pensions (some of them) stripped like epaulettes, the spell in the pillory served. Let’s get the blanket over ...

Make use of me

Jeremy Treglown: Olivia Manning, 9 February 2006

Olivia Manning: A Life 
by Neville Braybrooke and June Braybrooke.
Chatto, 301 pp., £20, November 2004, 0 7011 7749 7
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... success of Fortunes of War, the 1987 TV version of her two trilogies set in the Second World War (Anthony Burgess, a fan, called them a hexateuch), was the visual sumptuousness: the arrival in Bucharest of the train carrying the young British Council teacher and his new wife; the Athens settings of the wife’s romance with one British officer and her ...


Terry Eagleton: Anonymity, 22 May 2008

Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature 
by John Mullan.
Faber, 374 pp., £17.99, January 2008, 978 0 571 19514 5
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... for the sheer mischief of it, while others use anonymity as a perverse way of provoking curiosity. Anthony Trollope resorted to anonymity because he wrote too fast and was sensitive to charges of overproduction. Anthony Burgess went anonymous for a while for much the same reason. He was also the undeclared reviewer of ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor, 18 February 2016

The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... you how much Cyril Connolly was paid for a weekly newspaper article in the 1960s, or for how much Anthony Burgess sold the film rights of A Clockwork Orange. The book is crammed with intriguing chunks of information. We learn that Harold Monro, who established the Poetry Bookshop shortly before the First World War, was a twice-married homosexual of ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... writing more than the market would bear from any one name. In ‘straight’ fiction one can cite Anthony Burgess as someone who has borrowed this downmarket technique. In the famously productive year of his death sentence – having been misinformed that he had a terminal illness, and wishing to provide for his family – ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... last May at Kuntsevo Cemetery on the western outskirts of Moscow, when they buried Kim Philby. Guy Burgess had died in 1963, Anthony Blunt and Donald Maclean in 1983. Philby, however, was still alive when I started work in Moscow as the Independent’s correspondent there in early 1987, and his presence was a source of ...


Alex Zwerdling, 15 October 1987

The Failure of Theory: Essays on Criticism and Contemporary Theory 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Harvester, 225 pp., £28.50, April 1987, 0 7108 1129 2
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... who have come to prominence since the Fifties: B.S. Johnson, Doris Lessing, Muriel Spark, Anthony Burgess, V.S. Naipaul. The list is not intended to identify a new pantheon, nor meant to be exclusive. Most of the essays were occasional pieces written over the last decade. But they do, individually and collectively, allow Parrinder to elucidate ...

It ain’t him, babe

Danny Karlin, 5 February 1987

No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan 
by Robert Shelton.
New English Library, 573 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 450 04843 8
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... that Dylan can’t sing, or play the harmonica, or write good English, and anyway, according to Anthony Burgess, ‘he can’t compare as a poet with, say, people like Philip Larkin or even Adrian Mitchell.’ I know I ought to argue with these people. I know I ought to explain, patiently, that Dylan is the practitioner of an original art which does ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland, 13 October 1988

Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... which the publisher bundles together with the book is the proud facsimile of a letter from Anthony Burgess, declaring that ‘Brian’s novel’ has made him ‘forget a day’s meals’. I wouldn’t starve for Forgotten Life, but it does give one an appetite for more of the same. It is not immediately clear how the reader should take ...

The Biographer’s Story

Jonathan Coe, 8 September 1994

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers 
by Roger Lewis.
Century, 817 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7126 3801 6
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... projected onto his own omnipresent person. His next two books, we are told, will be a biography of Anthony Burgess and ‘a slice of autobiography called Back to the Slaughterhouse’. I wonder if we shall be able to tell the ...

How many nipples had Graham Greene?

Colm Tóibín, 9 June 1994

... printed letters without his permission: ‘Don’t do it again.’ He meant business. He wrote to Anthony Burgess in June 1988: ‘I hear you have been attacking me rather severely on a French television programme ... You have thought it relevant to attack me because of my age (I don’t see the point). You should have checked your facts. I happen to be ...

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