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Making strange

John Sutherland, 19 March 1981

Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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XPD 
by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... through the hands of less enthusiastic publishers has been recorded in various gossip columns. Anne Smith, editor of the Literary Review, is a canny publicist for herself and her journal. Now, at last, we have this already much-read work to review. The Magic Glass is transparently a version of the author’s childhood, some thirty years ago in Fife ...

One of the Cracked

Dinah Birch: Barbara Bodichon, 1 October 1998

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel 
by Pam Hirsch.
Chatto, 390 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 7011 6797 1
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... Like many forceful Victorian women, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon had a strong father and an obscure mother. Benjamin Smith, known in the family as ‘the Pater’, came from a formidable line of radical activists who had campaigned vigorously against the slave trade, and fostered projects for educational and political reform ...
... one he says is about me –                           by Stevie Smith (it’s called ‘Persephone’):                  I am that Persephone                  Who played with her darlings in Sicily                  Against a background of social security.                  Oh ...

Tit for Tat

Margaret Anne Doody, 21 December 1989

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology 
edited by Roger Lonsdale.
Oxford, 555 pp., £20, September 1989, 0 19 811769 8
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... the male poets: they were among the poets that the male poets read. That Pope adapted a line from Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, when he wrote ‘Die of a rose in aromatic pain’ (Essay on Man) is constantly referred to in footnotes, but editors and critics have generally fought shy of considering the impact on Pope and other poets of his time of ...

Fame at last

Elaine Showalter, 7 November 1991

Anne Sexton: A Biography 
by Diane Wood Middlebrook.
Virago, 488 pp., £20, November 1991, 1 85381 406 7
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... I met Anne Sexton six months before her suicide, in April 1974. My colleague Carol Smith and I were doing a series of interviews with women writers, and we had heard how Sexton and her friend Maxine Kumin had worked together for years, talking about their poems in long telephone sessions when neither of then could get out of the house ...

Never mind the neighbours

Margaret Anne Doody, 4 April 1996

Delphine 
by Germaine de Staël, translated by Avriel Goldberger.
Northern Illinois, 468 pp., $50, September 1995, 0 87580 200 1
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... in Delphine, a novel set in France in the Revolutionary period. It was the first of two novels by Anne Louise Germaine, Baronne de Staël-Holstein, née Necker. Published in 1802 when its author was 36, it is at the same time a long fatal love story, a political drama, a historical novel, an Enlightenment apocalypse, and a female philosophe’s analysis of ...

Attercliffe

Nicholas Spice, 17 May 1984

Present Times 
by David Storey.
Cape, 270 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 224 02188 5
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The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle 
edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin.
Open University, 296 pp., £15, December 1982, 9780335101818
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The Hawthorn Goddess 
by Glyn Hughes.
Chatto, 232 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7011 2818 6
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... below, he chats to his fellow journalists: ‘the pug-nosed, the pug-eared Morgan’, Davidson-Smith (‘overcoated’, ‘deerstalker-hatted’) and Freddie Fredericks, Frank Attercliffe’s aging and alcoholic mentor, and co-author with him of Pindar’s Weekend Round-up, a sports column on the Northern Post. After the match, in the Buckingham ...

History’s Revenges

Peter Clarke, 5 March 1981

The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... Who or Debrett (Henry VIII, 2nd s of Henry VII, qv, S 1509: m 1st, Catherine of Aragon; 2nd, Anne Boleyn; 3rd, Jane Seymour; 4th, Anne of Cleves; 5th, Catherine Howard; 6th, Catherine Parr etc). The authors have made their own compromise, which, as the price of retaining connected prose, offers a highly selective ...

Meltdown

Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... end it makes me think that the body was governing the mind. The rehearsal of all this is painful. Anne Stevenson, against the odds, has written a decent and intelligent book. It is certainly the best book on Sylvia Plath so far – and it isn’t graceless to point out that most of the earlier books have been conspicuously unsatisfactory. But Bitter Fame ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: Environmental Law, 8 February 2018

... in its duties, private litigation was brought to secure compliance. When Ronald Reagan appointed Anne Gorsuch (mother of the newest Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch) to head the EPA, he asked if she was willing to ‘bring it to its knees’. She slashed its budget and, as the New York Times put it, ‘sabotaged the agency’s enforcement effort’. In ...

Quod erat Hepburn

John Bayley, 3 April 1986

Katharine Hepburn: A Biography 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 395 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 340 33719 2
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... that of Inspector Lestrade in six Sherlock Holmes films during the Forties. One of the virtues of Anne Edwards’s book is that she gives in a footnote a potted biography of every actor and actress she mentions. These notes have great period interest, as well as commending themselves to film buffs. The Depression was on when Jane Eyre was produced, and ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... a painted-over figure, presumably a self-portrait. The order is thought to be, from left to right, Anne, Emily, Charlotte. Hassall compiled her scene from different sources: Patrick’s profile, with his distinctive high neckerchief (worn, we are told, because of his fear of bronchitis), was copied from a photograph taken late in his life, when all his ...

On Sophie Collins

Stephanie Burt: Sophie Collins, 18 July 2019

... who seems to be a stand-in for the author, especially in fanfiction. The term comes from Paula Smith’s parodic story ‘A Trekkie’s Tale’ (1973), originally published in a mimeographed journal for Star Trek fans. In mocking ‘Mary Sue’, Smith was not attacking fanfiction but trying to bolster its literary ...

Going underground

Elaine Showalter, 12 May 1994

The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Janet Malcolm.
Knopf, 208 pp., $23, April 1994, 0 679 43158 6
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... she publish big chunks of previously unpublished correspondence between Ted Hughes, Olwyn Hughes, Anne Stevenson and Al Alvarez? While she so vehemently condemns the motives of those who rifle the drawers of the dead, Malcolm is herself impelled to do the same, and it is this pull between its overt and covert narratives that makes The Silent Woman such a tour ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... directed at the number of familiar names on the contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good reasons, too obvious to need ...

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