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Mount Amery

Paul Addison, 20 November 1980

The Leo Amery Diaries 
edited by John Barnes and David Nicholson, introduced by Julian Amery.
Hutchinson, 653 pp., £27.50, October 1980, 0 09 131910 2
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... Politics are three-quarters drudgery, so it takes a special ingredient to enliven the diary of a politician. Harold Nicolson and Chips Channon wrote splendid diaries because they were not so much politicians as sublime social columnists who happened to sit in the House of Commons. Richard Crossman and Barbara Castle were heavyweights and professionals, and the eternal grind of committee life is reflected in their accounts ...

False Moderacy

T.J. Clark: Picasso and Modern British Art, 22 March 2012

Picasso and Modern British Art 
Tate Britain, 15 February 2012 to 15 July 2012Show More
Mondrian NicholsonIn Parallel 
Courtauld Gallery, 16 February 2012 to 20 May 2012Show More
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... modern art culture – Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Krasner, Hans Hofmann, the sculptor David Smith – which had spent a decade submitting to the master. ‘Aha,’ Gorky is supposed to have said coldly to de Kooning on first being shown the younger artist’s Picasso-saturated work, ‘so you have ideas of your own.’ Picasso’s aren’t good ...


Christopher Nicholson: Rare Birds, 22 November 2018

... And indeed, in his 1862 book The Illustrated Natural History – Birds, the Rev. J.G. Wood, the David Attenborough of his day, states that the cream-coloured courser ‘seems to live chiefly in Barbary or Abyssinia’. In the late 1860s, with the publication of Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, the word ‘barbarian’ acquired a new resonance. Arnold ...

Just a Way of Having Fun

Eleanor Birne: John Piper, 30 March 2017

The Art of John Piper 
by David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright.
Unicorn, 472 pp., £45, June 2016, 978 1 910787 05 2
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... houses. In the mid-1930s Piper, as secretary of the influential Seven and Five Society on Ben Nicholson’s recommendation, was making collages with cut-up newspapers in imitation of Cubist papiers collés; he made constructions from string, experimented to find out what could be done with a single flowing line and painted superimpositions of moving ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Eleanor Birne: The Reopening, 22 March 2018

... many visitors – along with artist friends from closer to home, particularly Ben and Winifred Nicholson. In 1956, the Edes returned to England and Jim started looking for a suitable building. He wanted to buy a former stately home but didn’t have the money. Eventually, he found four small condemned slum cottages in the north of Cambridge. With the help ...


Christopher Tayler: Nicholson Baker, 3 November 2011

House of Holes 
by Nicholson Baker.
Simon and Schuster, 262 pp., £14.99, August 2011, 978 0 85720 659 6
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... Sometimes,’ a woman says during phone sex in Vox, Nicholson Baker’s first foray into smut, ‘I think with the telephone that if I concentrate enough I could pour myself into it and I’d be turned into a mist and I would rematerialise in the room of the person I’m talking to.’ That’s more or less how people get to the House of Holes – a sexual spa resort, offering expensive bespoke treatments, located in a parallel dimension ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean, 3 July 2008

... A recent Italian book on the films of David Lean is called Colour and Dust, and with an amplification or two the phrase offers a pretty good description of his later work. The colour is mainly orange, and a lot of the dust is sand, especially in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). More generally, of course, the phrase evokes the director of swirling epics, a sort of Cecil B ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves, 11 October 2018

Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... enough to print a correction without charge). In 1918, returned from the dead, he married Nancy Nicholson (daughter of William Nicholson the painter, sister to Ben Nicholson and herself a skilful illustrator and designer), with whom he had three children by 1922, although it was never ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford, 7 September 1995

Robert Graves: Life on the Edge 
by Miranda Seymour.
Doubleday, 524 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 385 40423 9
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Robert Graves and the White Goddess 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 618 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 297 81534 2
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Robert Graves: His Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert Graves: Collected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert Graves: The Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... not this phantasma. Graves sought release from his own ‘phantasma’ in marriage to Nancy Nicholson, with whom he had four children, but, as poems like ‘Song of Contrariety’ or ‘Love in Barrenness’ testify, the relationship failed to provide Graves with the justification of his existence that he yearned for. The marriage was already faltering ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Paintings from the Berlin Nationalgalerie, 22 March 2001

Spirit of an Age: Paintings from the Berlin Nationalgalerie 
National Gallery, 192 pp., £19.95, March 2001, 1 85709 960 5Show More
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... them a German style (Gothic), storm clouds and the rising sun, stand for national renewal. Caspar David Friedrich’s symbolic stricken oaks and silent moonrise-watchers address the nation’s soul rather than its politics, but there, too, the search for a way to a German national future is evident. Nationalism and Modernism mix nowhere more strangely than in ...

Calcutta in the Cotswolds

David Gilmour: What did the British do for India?, 3 March 2005

Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India 
by Elizabeth Buettner.
Oxford, 324 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 19 924907 5
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... John Lawrence, the future viceroy, was one of five brothers working simultaneously in India; John Nicholson, the hero of the siege of Delhi, was one of four brothers who died there. No family, however, sent as many members to India as the Lochs of Drylaw, whose contribution to the Jacobite cause had forced them to sell their estate outside Edinburgh. Thirty ...

Feigning a Relish

Nicholas Penny: One Tate or Two, 15 October 1998

The Tate: A History 
by Frances Spalding.
Tate Gallery, 308 pp., £25, April 1998, 1 85437 231 9
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... in the Louvre and it reopened in 1818 as a gallery for pictures by great living artists (including David, then in political exile). The creation of the first European museum of modern art was thus something of an expedient, but the political impulse behind it was not ephemeral. No subsequent French regime dared to neglect it. Unsurprisingly, the character of ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: FOI, 4 February 2021

... receiving royal assent. Blair was said to have directly intervened to delay its implementation. David Cameron later described FOI as a ‘buggeration factor’ that ‘furs up’ the arteries of government.It’s hardly surprising that FOI is unpopular in Downing Street. The MPs’ expenses scandal emerged from documents prepared in response to an ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Let the Right One In’, 14 May 2009

Let the Right One In 
directed by Tomas Alfredson.
November 2008
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... has some trouble remembering. The men all grin and gesture with a fake jocularity which makes Jack Nicholson look like a model of sense and sincerity, and this effect was compounded for me, through no fault of the director, by the badly dubbed version I saw. This had the advantage of added eeriness because no one’s mouth moved when they were talking; and the ...

At Piano Nobile

Eleanor Birne: Jean Cooke, 18 April 2019

... week – Bratby finished his studies at the Royal College of Art and, thanks to a famous essay by David Sylvester in Encounter, found himself at the head of a movement. ‘Everything but the kitchen sink? The kitchen sink too,’ Sylvester wrote to describe the work of Bratby and others – Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch, Jack Smith – who were busy ...

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