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The Undesired Result

Gillian Darley: Betjeman’s bêtes noires, 31 March 2005

Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 744 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7195 6495 6
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... the latter thanking him. ‘Fuck Wain and the prig in the Times who was probably Griggers’ – Geoffrey Grigson, another in his rogues’ gallery. ‘I’ve gone away to escape further blows.’ His publisher hoped to steer Betjeman back to architecture, but despite the rollcall of topics Murray reminded him that they had discussed – ‘Street, Norman ...

Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat

David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise, 6 June 2013

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... to humanise it. His great find is a previously unseen cache of letters from the young Margaret Roberts to her older sister, Muriel, written variously from Grantham, Oxford and Dartford. There, she talks about boyfriends, fashion, shopping and the various inconveniences of life in wartime and then austerity Britain. They are, I suppose, human. But boy are ...

A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate, 4 March 1999

Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... who’d spent years carefully tracking and tracing the continuities between Hardy and Larkin and Geoffrey Hill, say, and producing learned monographs on the Movement or on Ted Hughes suddenly took the notion to write a book about Frederic Prokosch (a poet, like Day Lewis, who made most of his money from novels), or Archibald MacLeish (again, like Day ...

Use Use Use

Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 October 2013

Robert Duncan: The Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... become less plausible to rank Duncan’s work with that of Frank O’Hara, Elizabeth Bishop or the Roberts Lowell and Creeley, all of whom were born within a decade of him. I don’t imagine that even his most enthusiastic supporters would put his influence anywhere near that of John Ashbery, who seems pretty securely the major American poet of the last half ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... comparing her experiences of evacuation with mine. She was sent to Grantham and says that Alderman Roberts, Mrs Thatcher’s father, was thought to be into the black market and that Maggie used to hang out of her bedroom window and spit on the other children. 12 February. A shoddy programme about the conviction of Jonathan King for offences against young men ...

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