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Sewing furiously

Rosalind Mitchison, 7 March 1985

The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine 
by Rozsika Parker.
Women’s Press, 256 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 7043 2842 9
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Living the Fishing 
by Paul Thompson, Tony Wailey and Trevor Lummis.
Routledge, 398 pp., £13.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9508 2
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By the Sweat of their Brow: Women Workers at Victorian Coal Mines 
by Angela John.
Routledge, 247 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 7102 0142 7
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... which won the battle of Lepanto – still to be seen on the great pale blue banner for Don John of Austria’s flagship, now in Toledo – could be regarded as a practical way of encouraging solidarity, and perhaps it took no longer to complete than it took for the alliance to prepare its navy. The author claims that it was in the 17th century that ...

Angela and the Beast

Patricia Craig, 5 December 1985

Black Venus 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 121 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 3964 1
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Come unto these yellow sands 
by Angela Carter.
Bloodaxe, 158 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 906427 66 5
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Mainland 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 285 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 241 11643 0
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The Accidental Tourist 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 355 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7011 2986 7
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Arrows of Longing 
by Virginia Moriconi.
Duckworth, 252 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 9780715620694
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... Angela Carter’s Black Venus is Baudelaire’s Creole mistress Jeanne Duval, whose hair the poet once likened to a sea of ebony, among other things; his enchantment and her disenchantment figure in the story, the first in an inspiriting new collection of eight by an inveterate scrutiniser of the whole romantic box of tricks ...

Angela and Son

Dan Jacobson, 2 August 1984

Inside Outsider: The Life and Times of Colin MacInnes 
by Tony Gould.
Chatto, 261 pp., £12.50, September 1983, 0 7011 2678 7
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... of an Oxford Professor of Poetry (of no great distinction, it must be admitted); and the son of Angela Thirkell, the novelist of upper-class English life, and James Campbell McInnes, a man of working-class origins who became the foremost British lieder-singer of his generation. Unfortunately for this marriage of the muses and the classes, Campbell McInnes ...

Stand the baby on its head

John Bayley, 22 July 1993

The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales 
edited by Alison Luire.
Oxford, 455 pp., £17.95, May 1993, 0 19 214218 6
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The Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales 
edited by Angela Carter.
Virago, 230 pp., £7.99, July 1993, 1 85381 616 7
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... to be soft and sticky. The best are startling and mysterious but also commonplace. Before she died Angela Carter made a few notes for what was to be the introduction to her second collection of traditional tales. ‘The unperplexedness of the story. Fairy tales – cunning and high spirits.’ That comes as close as anything. The unperplexedness of the story ...

Bewitchment

James Wood, 8 December 1994

Shadow Dance 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 182 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 1 85381 840 2
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Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter 
edited by Lorna Sage.
Virago, 358 pp., £8.99, September 1994, 1 85381 760 0
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... Angela Carter’s first novel, Shadow Dance, is a bold, leathery, coarse book. It summarises thinly its author’s later adventures and preoccupations, as the chapter headings in a picaresque novel do its hero’s: Gothic entropy, sexual ambiguity, personality as masquerade, the theatre of theatre. It is a first wispy cloud in what would become a boiling sky; it casts a small shadow ...

Pine Trees and Vices

John Bayley, 9 April 1992

The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales 
edited by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 533 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 19 214194 5
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... Reverend Rochemont Barbauld (a perfect name for the genre) went mad in 1808 and committed suicide. Angela Carter, who has identified de Sade’s victims as among the first feminists, because incipiently conscious stereotypes of woman solely for man’s use, melded the Gothic with fairy-tale to produce new and stylish ideological fantasy, notably in the recast ...

In Praise of Student-Teacher Attraction

Cristina Nehring: Francine Prose, 29 November 2001

Blue Angel 
by Francine Prose.
Allison and Busby, 314 pp., £12.99, June 2001, 0 7490 0580 7
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... recommendations rather than with her secondary sexual characteristics, which initially revolt him. Angela Argo is a heavily pierced, neon-haired punk Paddington Bear who stumbles down the corridor and crashes remarkably often into Swenson’s office door. More important than her physical ‘irregularity’, though, is the fact that she takes the initiative in ...

Coming out with something

Susannah Clapp, 6 July 1989

Laughter and the Love of Friends: A Memoir 1945 to the Present Day 
by Ursula Wyndham.
Lennard, 208 pp., £14.95, March 1989, 1 85291 061 5
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1939: The Last Season of Peace 
by Angela Lambert.
Weidenfeld, 235 pp., £14.95, April 1989, 0 297 79539 2
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Rosehill: Portraits from a Midland City 
by Carol Lake.
Bloomsbury, 179 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 9780747503019
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... meanders, but she is not mealy-mouthed: she tells her own idiosyncratic story. As recorded by Angela Lambert, the slightly younger debutantes of the 1939 Season were less adventurous and more euphemistic: they recall a few gropes ‘round the bosom area’, a rumour that one girl had ‘crossed the Rubicon’, and the designating of several young men as ...

It’s only a paper moon

Patrick Parrinder, 13 June 1991

Wise Children 
by Angela Carter.
Chatto, 234 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 0 7011 3354 6
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... Shakespeare in the educational and cultural life of the nation. What a relief then, to come upon Angela Carter’s new novel, an uproarious Bottom’s-eye view of Bardolatry and Bardbiz, full of cardboard crowns, asses’ heads, and actors strutting, fretting, singing and dancing! Wise Children will give pleasure to thousands of readers, and it may even have ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... be traced as an influence in Nathanael West and Malcolm Lowry, and her sort of Gothic fantasy in John Hawkes. In spite of this, when her books reappear it doesn’t seem to be so much in response to a public demand as because the time has come once again for a reappraisal. Has she a place of her own, in or outside the Modernist movement? I don’t think ...

I could have fancied her

Angela Carter, 16 February 1989

Beauty in History: Society, Politics and Personal Appearance c. 1500 to the Present 
by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 480 pp., £18.95, September 1988, 0 500 25101 0
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... may seem quixotic; besides, Professor Marwick covers himself by invoking another Professor, Sir John Plumb, but these two gentlemen between them certainly have no respect for the feelings of the dead. ‘George III’s wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, was so manifestly ugly that the King’s bouts of madness, Professor Sir ...

Wolfing it

Angela Carter, 23 July 1987

Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia 
by Patience Gray.
Prospect, 374 pp., £17.50, November 1986, 0 907325 30 0
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A Table in Provence: Classic Recipes from the South of France 
collected and illustrated by Leslie Forbes.
Webb and Bower/Joseph, 160 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 86350 130 3
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The Joyce of Cooking: Food and Drink from James Joyce’s Dublin 
by Alison Armstrong, foreword by Anthony Burgess.
Station Hill Press, 252 pp., $18.95, December 1986, 0 930794 85 0
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... with the arts. Elizabeth David, friend of Norman Douglas, is eternalised in the lovely icon of John Ward’s drawing, the epitome of chic in her companionable kitchen. M.F.K. Fisher is just as beautiful. Her most beloved husband was a painter, and her books are so instinct with upmarket bohemianism that it is no surprise to find her in a cameo role in the ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... In​ 2006, the British Library bought a huge archive of Angela Carter’s papers from Gekoski, the rare books dealer, for £125,000.* It includes drafts, lots of them, a reminder that in the days before your computer automatically date-stamped all your files book-writing used to be a clerical undertaking. It has Pluto Press Big Red Diaries from the 1970s, and a red leatherette Labour Party one, tooled with the pre-Kinnock torch, quill and shovel badge ...

It’s she, it’s she, it’s she

Joanna Biggs: Americans in Paris, 2 August 2012

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 289 pp., £17, May 2012, 978 0 226 42438 5
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As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-80 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 544 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 241 14517 3
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... Dreaming in French tells the story of three college girls – Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis – who did. Kaplan, who wrote about her own year abroad in the memoir French Lessons, takes the three, who didn’t meet, as examples of mid-20th-century types: the (Catholic) aesthete, the (Jewish) bohemian and the (black) political activist.* In ...

Doing it to Mama

Angela Carter, 19 May 1988

On Birth and Madness 
by Eric Rhode.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £14.95, July 1987, 9780715621707
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... the chance she might be his mother? Surely it should be the other way around, anyway. Augustus John used to pat the heads of all the children whom he met when he walked down the King’s Road because he wasn’t sure who was or wasn’t his and didn’t like to leave anybody out. Similarly, we should all treat all old men with respect, just in case. Seed ...

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