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Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED, 20 April 1989

... to add that the same author wrote two books, one enormous, about D.H. Lawrence, and also fathered Claire Tomalin.) Since 1968, algorithm has also had a medical sense meaning a sort of diagnostic flow-chart. There is no mention here of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, in which the word is famously used or abused. How we did without it for so long is a ...

Stuck in Chicago

Linda Colley, 12 November 1987

by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 1165 pp., £15, October 1987, 0 7043 2625 6
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... viable. Thus Victoria Glendinning pays tribute here to the imaginative patronage she received from Claire Tomalin, who consistently used her various editorships to advance talented women. Similarly, it is no accident that the most successful London club open to both sexes is Groucho’s, which caters primarily to media types. But outside this rare ...


C.K. Stead, 22 February 1996

Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont and Fanny Imlay Godwin 
edited by Marion Kingston Stocking.
Johns Hopkins, 704 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 8018 4633 1
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... Claire Clairmont was, briefly, Byron’s mistress, and the mother of his child Allegra. But was she also Shelley’s lover? Did she become pregnant by him? Did she give birth to his child? From the journals, edited by Marion Kingston Stocking and published in 1986, it seems clear that she was in love with Shelley at the age of 16 ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... his friend Henry Porter, who was working on the Sunday Times, sent him a letter apparently from Claire Tomalin, the paper’s literary editor, asking him to review Mae West Is Dead, Adam Mars-Jones’s selection of lesbian and gay fiction, adding that she would ‘expect a generous piece’. Waugh duly relayed this breach of professional etiquette to ...


Craig Raine, 13 June 1991

Constance Garnett: A Heroic Life 
by Richard Garnett.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 402 pp., £20, March 1991, 1 85619 033 1
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... Katherine Mansfield’s ‘plagiarism’ of this story (a transgression for which, according to Claire Tomalin, she was blackmailed by her former lover, Florian Sobienowski) differs dramatically from the Garnett version. Whereas Garnett is everything a good translator should be, the ideal blend of saint and valet. Mansfield obtrudes everywhere, as an ...


John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... that descends through Thomas Wright and Katherine Longley to our contemporaries Peter Ackroyd and Claire Tomalin. In his chapter on James Joyce Hamilton dwells exclusively on the author’s ‘patron saint’, Harriet Weaver. Surprisingly – for a study whose main concern is the suppression or revelation of intimate materials – he does not discuss the ...

A Little Local Irritation

Stephen Wall: Dickens, 16 April 1998

The Letters of Charles Dickens. Vol. IX: 1859-61 
edited by Graham Storey.
Oxford, 610 pp., £70, July 1997, 0 19 812293 4
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... they passed to Ellen when she was 21. The Pilgrim editors summarise and endorse the case made by Claire Tomalin in her biography of Ternan and by other scholars that Dickens put up the money. He also wrote to theatre managers in London and Paris to try and advance the performing careers of Fanny and Maria Ternan. When he has doubts about accepting a ...

Young, Pleasant, Cheerful, Tidy, Bustling, Quiet

Dinah Birch: Mrs Dickens, 3 February 2011

The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth 
by Lillian Nayder.
Cornell, 359 pp., £22.95, December 2010, 978 0 8014 4787 7
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... It doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that he could treat women badly. Twenty years ago, Claire Tomalin made his hypocrisies apparent in The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, an account of Nelly’s struggles as the illicit lover of the nation’s celebrated defender of domestic virtue. ...

How does he come to be mine?

Tim Parks: Dickens’s Children, 8 August 2013

Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 239 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 0 374 29880 7
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... six at the time) and frowning on every contact between them and her. In Charles Dickens: A Life, Claire Tomalin remarks, ‘The spectacle of a man famous for his goodness and his attachment to domestic virtues suddenly losing his moral compass is dismaying,’ to the point, she adds, that ‘you want to avert your eyes.’ Gottlieb is just as uneasy ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005, 5 January 2006

... for my political views. I am an old modernian. 26 October. An interesting letter this morning from Claire Tomalin about the Drummer Hodge scene in The History Boys, saying that, contrary to what Hector specifically asserts in the scene, Hodge was not in the ordinary sense a name but like, as it were, Joe Bloggs, a generic name for a common and unthinking ...

The Importance of Aunts

Colm Tóibín, 17 March 2011

... dislike Mrs Norris for her cruelty and to admire Fanny for her forbearance. Austen’s biographer Claire Tomalin sees Mrs Norris as ‘one of the great villains of literature’; Tony Tanner thought she was ‘one of Jane Austen’s most impressive creations and indeed one of the most plausibly odious characters in fiction’. All this is clear, at times ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... is no Peter Ackroyd, no Hermione Lee, no Victoria Glendinning, though there are three entries by Claire Tomalin, including Katherine Mansfield and Ellen Ternan, and four by Michael Holroyd, including Augustus John. Given the (exaggerated) claims made for the dictionary as ‘the panorama of the national past’, it is also worth remarking that there is ...

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