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Edward and Tilly and George

Robert Melville, 15 March 1984

Swans Reflecting Elephants: My Early Years 
by Edward James, edited by George Melly.
Weidenfeld, 178 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 297 77988 5
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... In 1935, Edward James, English and very rich, entered into an agreement to purchase from Salvador Dali his most important works. It was a funny sort of agreement, but it lasted until 1939 and during that period James acquired a large number of Dali’s Surrealist works, including the telephone with a lobster replacing the receiver, two of the sofas which represent Mae West’s lips, and the painting Autumn Cannibalism, depicting two ‘Iberian beings’ eating one another with the help of spoon and fork and, according to the painter, expressing the pathos of civil war ...

Follies

George Melly, 4 April 1991

A Surrealist Life 
by John Lowe.
Collins, 262 pp., £18, February 1991, 0 00 217941 5
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... Am I eccentric?’ Edward James once asked me in the days before I was added to his long list of enemies both real and imaginary. ‘I suppose I am, but I don’t mean to be. I’ve always tried to behave like everyone else.’ We were sitting on the platform of one of the inevitably incomplete concrete follies he was building at enormous expense on a hillside he owned by proxy in a Mexican jungle ...

At Las Pozas

Mike Jay: Edward James’s Sculpture Garden, 21 May 2020

... Edward James​ was charming, eccentric, generous and immensely wealthy. For most of his life, his greatest talent was placing himself in interesting situations, often having used his wealth to make them happen. In 1931, he was the first to publish John Betjeman, who had been a fellow student at Oxford. In 1933 he financed the final collaboration between Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill ...
The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe 
edited by George Holmes.
Oxford, 398 pp., £17.50, March 1988, 0 19 820073 0
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A History of 12th-century Western Philosophy 
edited by Peter Dronke.
Cambridge, 495 pp., £37.50, April 1988, 0 521 25896 0
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The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought c.350-c.1450 
edited by J.H. Burns.
Cambridge, 808 pp., £60, May 1988, 0 521 24324 6
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Medieval Popular Culture: Problem of Belief and Perception 
by Aron Gurevich, translated by Janos Bak and Paul Hollingsworth.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £27.50, May 1988, 0 521 30369 9
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A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World 
edited by George Duby, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 650 pp., £24.95, April 1988, 0 674 39976 5
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... Anglia and fell on Wessex over Twelfth Night 878, King Alfred ‘rallied his subjects’ (writes Edward James). ‘Rallied his subjects’ sounds more grown-up, more professional and political, than ‘burnt the cakes’ – though this is exactly the moment when King Alfred is supposed to have burnt the cakes – but on reflection one wonders whether ...

Relations will stop at nothing

Philip Horne, 5 March 1987

The Whole Family: A Novel by 12 Authors 
by Henry James and William Dean Howells, edited by Elizabeth Jordan, introduced by Alfred Bendixen.
Ungar (USA), 392 pp., $9.95, June 1986, 0 8044 6036 1
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‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship 
by Michael Anesko.
Oxford, 272 pp., £21.50, January 1987, 0 19 504034 1
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... Henry James was a perfectionist, though not a humourless one, about his public appearance and appearances: hence the pleasure taken by certain anecdotalists in showing him out of control – of situations, conversations, himself, others. That he danced a cake-walk in 1899 and was photographed with a mouthful of doughnut intrigues us, as a treasurable departure from the magisterial dignity we mainly like to impute to him ...

No Law at All

Stephen Sedley: The Governor Eyre Affair, 2 November 2006

A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law 
by R.W. Kostal.
Oxford, 529 pp., £79.95, December 2005, 0 19 826076 8
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... just had them fired on by soldiers after a reading of the Riot Act. The governor of the island, Edward Eyre, on the advice of his military commander and his law officers, decreed martial law in the county where Morant Bay lay, but excluded the town of Kingston. Although the uprising was put down within a week, in the month that passed before the decree ...

Obstacles

Penelope Fitzgerald, 4 July 1996

Edward Thomas: Selected Letters 
edited by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 192 pp., £30, March 1996, 0 19 818562 6
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... It would be quite possible to read about Edward Thomas and wonder how it was that so many people made such allowances for him. A man who had a house built for himself and then refused to live in it, he tormented his wife and children with his restlessness – he calculated he was never happy for more than a quarter of an hour in the day ...

All together

Humphrey Carpenter, 7 December 1989

The Safest Place in the World: A Personal History of British Rhythm and Blues 
by Dick Heckstall-Smith.
Quartet, 178 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7043 2696 5
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Mama said there’d be days like these: My Life in the Jazz World 
by Val Wilmer.
Women’s Press, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5040 8
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Lenya: A Life 
by Donald Spoto.
Viking, 371 pp., £15.95, September 1989, 0 670 81211 0
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... escape), but they teamed up in Paris for The Seven Deadly Sins (1933), commissioned by the exotic Edward James (John Betjeman’s original patron), in which Lenya and James’s wife Tillie Losch played Anna I and Anna II. Offstage, the two Annas conducted an affair with each other. The Countess of Oxford and ...

Down with Cosmopolitanism

Gillian Darley, 18 May 2000

Stylistic Cold Wars: Betjeman v. Pevsner 
by Timothy Mowl.
Murray, 182 pp., £14.99, March 2000, 9780719559099
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... his first volume of poetry, Mount Zion (paid for, intriguingly, by the Surrealist patron, Edward James), and, with the Shell Guides, moving into broadcasting and publishing, Pevsner was restarting his working life from scratch. He was studying the hide-bound establishments of British industry in the West Midlands, interviewing with amazement ...

Smuggled in a Warming Pan

Stephen Sedley: The Glorious Revolution, 23 September 2015

The Glorious Revolution and the Continuity of Law 
by Richard Kay.
Catholic University of America, 277 pp., £45, December 2014, 978 0 8132 2687 3
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... When Charles II died in 1685 without legitimate offspring, the throne passed to his brother James, Duke of York, who had been brought up in exile in France as a Catholic and who now began publicly attending mass. Within a few months the Duke of Monmouth’s abortive rebellion and Baron Jeffreys’s judicial revenge, the Bloody Assizes, spread fear that ...
Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald 1763-98 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 336 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6538 3
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... do now ‘but fumble in a greasy till’. Was it For this that all the blood was shed, For this Edward Fitzgerald died, And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, All that delirium of the brave? ‘Delirium’ suggests Yeats’s usual equivocal insight; but more magnificently it celebrates the fever in the blood which was about to quicken the national pulses yet ...

A prince, too, can do his bit

K.D. Reynolds: King Edward VII and George VI, 27 April 2000

Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII 
by Simon Heffer.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, August 1998, 9780297842200
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A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Little, Brown, 368 pp., £22.50, November 1998, 0 316 64765 9
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... is futile to debate whether Victoria was more or less constitutional than George III, or whether Edward VII was the first really constitutional king, because no British monarch since 1688 has had power unfettered by Parliament. We should be asking other questions. How, for example, did different monarchs and politicians perceive their relationship and ...

The Man in White

Edward Pearce, 11 October 1990

The Golden Warrior: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia 
by Lawrence James.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £19.50, August 1990, 0 297 81087 1
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... tackle a subject variously seen as gallant paladin, pathological liar and career oddity? Mr James, in this sensible, not too long life, answers with as much moderation and dispassion as can be asked for. He strikes no pose: Arabist, Zionist, Regular Army, anti-Army, Lawrentian or anti-Lawrentian. The book is a steady climb by the South Coll, rather ...

To Anthony Thwaite at Fifty

Clive James, 4 December 1980

... still I think he was more right than wrong.) ‘Death joins us to the great majority,’ Droned Edward Young. No quarrel there from me. ‘Age,’ Bacon burbled, ‘will not be defied.’ A boring thought that will not be denied, For fatalism, even as a platitude, Remains the only reasonable attitude, While if compounded with inventive verve Its realism ...

Dynasties

Antonia Fraser, 3 April 1980

The House of Stuart 
by Maurice Ashley.
Dent, 237 pp., £9.95, January 1980, 0 460 04458 3
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... were the ‘Tudor’ characteristics – those possessed in common by Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I? Ruthlessness? At first, that seems a promising answer. After all, even Edward VI before his premature death managed to exhibit his father’s notorious ‘frown’. Unfortunately, the ...

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