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Lucky’s Dip

James Fox, 12 November 1987

Trail of Havoc: In the Steps of Lord Lucan 
by Patrick Marnham.
Viking, 204 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 670 81391 5
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Lucan: Not Guilty 
by Sally Moore.
Sidgwick, 271 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 9780283995361
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... Goldsmith from January 1976 to May 1977. The Eye had been investigating possible links between Wilson and the KGB, using material leaked to them by MI5 – the first evidence of that MI5 subversion of the Wilson Government dealt with by famous Peter Wright. Lady Falkender and ...

Crusoe and Daughter

Patricia Craig, 20 June 1985

Crusoe’s Daughter 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11526 4
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The Tie that Binds 
by Kent Haruf.
Joseph, 246 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 7181 2561 4
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Hannie Richards, or The Intrepid Adventures of a Restless Wife 
by Hilary Bailey.
Virago, 265 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780860683469
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A Fine Excess 
by Jane Ellison.
Secker, 183 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 14601 0
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Victory over Japan 
by Ellen Gilchrist.
Faber, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 571 13446 7
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... of strong winds blowing from the north-east. At the yellow house live Polly’s Aunt Mary and Aunt Frances, both too religious for their own good – a temperamental defect well understood by Jane Gardam: one is overtaken in the end by vagueness, the other by unaccountable flightiness, after a late marriage, on a voyage to India. Also their crabbed friend Mrs ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... who saw it when it first appeared in Penguin New Writing, or on book jackets and in magazines. Frances Spalding’s biography gives us the life with too many adjectives but an abundance of facts and first-hand accounts. She is tentative about the value of the work, which is understandable, and about the man, which seems unkind. The facts are not so ...

Enemies of Promise

Angus Calder, 2 March 1989

Breach of Promise: Labour in Power 1964-1970 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 433 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12683 5
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James Maxton 
by Gordon Brown.
Fontana, 336 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 00 637255 4
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Forward! Labour Politics in Scotland 1888-1988 
edited by Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie and Ian Wood.
Polygon, 184 pp., £19.50, January 1989, 0 7486 6001 1
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... the political map of Strathclyde. Breach of Promise, the title of Clive Ponting’s study of Wilson’s governments of the Sixties, evokes, with its suggestion of sordid betrayal, a polarity which dominates structures of feeling within the Labour Movement. The shades of men like Maclean and Maxton whose failure in politics expressed a refusal to ...

Nelly gets her due

John Sutherland, 8 November 1990

The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 317 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 670 82787 8
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The Autobiography of Margaret Oliphant 
edited by Elisabeth Jay.
Oxford, 184 pp., £16.95, October 1990, 0 19 818615 0
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... break-up of his marriage. Apparently Mrs Ternan acquiesced. Dickens gave Ellen’s older sister Frances money to study singing in Italy (Tomalin suggests this may have been intended to free Nelly from her mother’s chaperonage). Nelly’s not very wonderful career on the stage came to an end at this period, but her fortunes rose. By the age of 21 she owned ...

Ave, Jeeves!

Emily Wilson: Rom(an) Com, 21 February 2008

Plautine Elements in Plautus 
by Eduard Fraenkel, translated by Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke.
Oxford, 459 pp., £79, November 2006, 0 19 924910 5
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Plautus: ‘Asinaria – The One about the Asses’ 
translated by John Henderson.
Wisconsin, 252 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 299 21994 1
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Terence: The Comedies 
translated by Peter Brown.
Oxford, 338 pp., £9.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 282399 1
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Terence: Comedies 
translated by Frederick Clayton.
Exeter, 290 pp., £45, January 2006, 0 85989 757 5
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... Germanic) English, as Plautine Elements in Plautus. The translators, Tomas Drevikovsky and Frances Muecke, have included translations of all quotations from Latin and Greek, as well as an index rerum, an index locorum, and an up-to-date bibliography of Plautine studies. At the time Fraenkel was writing, the study of Greek New Comedy had recently been ...

Gargoyles have their place

A.N. Wilson, 12 December 1996

Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton 
by Joseph Pearce.
Hodder, 522 pp., £25, November 1996, 0 340 67132 7
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... only of a latent homosexuality, he wasn’t implying it ever had physical expression) which led Frances Chesterton (GK’s wife) to insist on their leaving London and setting up their crashingly dull household in Beaconsfield. She desperately wanted children, and the fact that she got medical advice (and even surgical attention) in an attempt to become ...

He had it all

Alex Harvey: Fitzgerald’s Decade, 5 July 2018

Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald 
by David S. Brown.
Harvard, 424 pp., £21.95, May 2017, 978 0 674 50482 0
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‘I’d Die for You’ and Other Lost Stories 
by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Scribner, 384 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4711 6473 6
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... He used to wear a dark topcoat and homburg; ‘his outfit and pallor,’ his secretary Frances Kroll recalled, ‘were alien to the style and warmth of Southern California – as if he were not at home here, had just stopped off and was dressed to leave on the next train.’ Under contract as a screenwriter to MGM to pay off his debts and his wife ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties, 4 June 1998

Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... begins with her writer parents and the people she met in their living room in New York: Edmund Wilson, James Thurber, Walker Evans, James M. Cain, Nunnally Johnson, S.J. Perelman, Dawn Powell, Joseph Mitchell and John O’Hara. Many of these celebrated figures, artists and authors approaching fifty at the start of the decade or only lately past it, grew up ...

Post-Bourgeois Man

Peter Jenkins, 1 October 1981

Arguments for Democracy 
by Tony Benn, edited by Chris Mullin.
Cape, 257 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 224 01878 7
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Manifesto 
by Francis Cripps, John Griffith, Frances Morrell, Jimmy Reid and Peter Townsend.
Pan, 224 pp., £1.95, September 1981, 0 330 26402 8
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... and too contemptuous of what they saw as an overblown ambition, to take his challenge seriously. Wilson’s tactic was to ignore him, treat him as a bore. Callaghan regarded him as a Sixties figure who, he hoped, would be passed over by the Eighties. Yet all through the Seventies – we can now see, looking back – while Benn was making headlines, his cause ...

Losers

Frank Kermode, 5 September 1985

Family and Friends 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 187 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 224 02337 3
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... crazy actress mother and a useless father, a car salesman manqué – all rather like early Angus Wilson. It is a family call that aborts her affair with a handsome Sorbonne professor, dragging her back to London; her other men are a do-gooder, and an unsuitable husband whose early death leaves her to look after her decrepit father. Ruth has the luck of most ...

Pretty Letters

Megan Marshall: The Death of Edgar Allan Poe, 21 February 2008

Poe: A Life Cut Short 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 170 pp., £15.99, February 2008, 978 0 7011 6988 6
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... basis of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ and ‘William Wilson’, and his literary aesthetic asserted in dozens of reviews as well as prefaces to his poetry and story collections, he pulled off one of the most famous stunts in newspaper history. Somehow he persuaded the editor of the New York Sun to publish an ...

How not to do it

John Sutherland, 22 July 1993

The British Library: For Scholarship, Research and Innovation: Strategic Objectives for the Year 2000 
British Library, 39 pp., £5, June 1993, 0 7123 0321 9Show More
The Library of the British Museum: Retrospective Essays on the Department of Printed Books 
edited by P.R. Harris.
British Library, 305 pp., £35, June 1993, 0 7123 0242 5
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... creative than the 11 full-plate pictures. These have been skilfully thematised by the designer Frances Salisbury (sub-contracted, presumably). The photography (by Phil Starling) is moody, artfully under-exposed and obliquely-angled. Cumulatively the illustrations suggest a cathedral quiet and nobility of mission, combined with beyond-the-cutting-edge ...

The Writer and the Valet

Frances Stonor Saunders, 25 September 2014

... about the situation – & perhaps a little more than all,’ he murmured side-of-mouth to Edmund Wilson late in 1957. ‘There is a (secret) Russian text in Oxford, in the keeping of the sisters of the poet: they guard it like Cerberi … I have (secretly) got a microfilm of the Russian text to the Widener Library for safe-keeping, but they are not supposed ...

The Shape of Absence

Hilary Mantel: The Bondwoman’s Narrative, 8 August 2002

The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel 
by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates.
Virago, 338 pp., £10.99, May 2002, 1 86049 013 1
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... many defended as natural, necessary and ordained by God. In 1854 a family is selling their slave Frances, aged 17, to a dealer in Richmond. Frances is trained as a chambermaid. She does not know that she is to be sold. I could not tell her; I own all her family, and the leave taking would be so distressing that I could ...

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