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Brattishness

Colin Burrow: Henry Howard, 11 November 1999

Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life 
by W.A. Sessions.
Oxford, 448 pp., £60, March 1999, 9780198186243
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... queens (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard). He spent four years of his youth as the companion of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. Howard blood was blue enough to pose a threat to the succession, as Surrey’s uncle Thomas discovered when he was imprisoned in 1536 after a rash engagement to Lady Margaret ...

He knew he was right

John Lloyd, 10 March 1994

Scargill: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
HarperCollins, 296 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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... ballot or ignoring the result if it came out against strike action. Nottingham stuck, however. In Henry Richardson it had a left-wing general secretary and, in Ray Chadburn, an ineffectual, moderate president. To the Left, it had a notoriously moderate tradition reaching back to the miners’ strike of 1926 when the ‘Spencer’ union broke away from the ...

Persons Aggrieved

Stephen Sedley, 22 May 1997

... In 1992 the Law Lords tried to square this circle in a major constitutional case, Pepper v. Hart, by permitting resort to ministerial explanations given to Parliament in order to clear up intractable obscurities in statutes. In doing this the House had to assume that Parliamentary answers, usually given in committee, sometimes given under pressure and ...

Overflow

Frank Kermode: John Updike, 21 January 1999

Beck at Bay: A Quasi-Novel 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 241 pp., £16.99, January 1999, 0 241 14027 7
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... of the Rabbit series; this new book is the third of a sequence about the New York Jewish novelist Henry Bech. As it carries him into his seventies it may be that this is the last of Bech, as Rabbit at Rest was presumably the last of Rabbit, but as long as the real author is alive, fertile and motile, one cannot be sure. Bech is a strange antitype, a funhouse ...

If my sister’s arches fall

Laura Jacobs: Agnes de Mille, 6 October 2016

Dance to the Piper 
by Agnes de Mille.
NYRB, 368 pp., £11.99, February 2016, 978 1 59017 908 6
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... Oklahoma! revolutionised Broadway. The composer Richard Rodgers had just left his lyricist Lorenz Hart for Oscar Hammerstein II, and the new team realised that the usual dance razzmatazz wasn’t going to be right for a show about cowboys and farmers at the turn of the century. Before Rodeo, de Mille, who was in her late thirties, had been about to quit dance ...

Cheers

John Lanchester, 8 March 1990

The Thirsty Muse: Alcohol and the American Writer 
by Tom Dardis.
Abacus, 292 pp., £3.99, February 1990, 0 349 10143 4
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... to deal with the American writer’s life through the alter ego of unprolific Jewish novelist Henry Bech, here attending a party: Like a fuzzy sock being ejected by the tumble drier there was flung towards Bech the shapeless face of Vernon Klegg, the American Kafka, whose austere minimalist renderings of kitchen spats and dishevelled mobile homes were ...

Beastliness

Harry Ricketts, 16 March 1989

Rudyard Kipling 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Macdonald, 373 pp., £16.95, February 1989, 0 356 15852 7
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... Speculation, Leon Edel remarks in his one-volume life of Henry James, is ‘the stock-in-trade of all biographers’. But if all biographers speculate, some do so more scrupulously and convincingly than others. Edel, for instance, is both meticulous and plausible. The same can hardly be said of Martin Seymour-Smith in his new critical biography of Kipling ...

Whapper

Norman Page, 8 January 1987

Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton 
by Flora Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 410 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78895 7
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Loving Emma 
by Nigel Foxell.
Harvester, 201 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7108 1056 3
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... her celebrity. By the age of 16 Emy Lyon had become, with a touch of novelistic symbolism, Emily Hart. She was also pregnant, ‘thrown over by a rich lover’, and desperate until she found another protector. There is by now an odd ambiguity in Emma’s status: like Moll Flanders, she is available for sexual exploitation because that is the only way in ...

Terrible to be alive

Julian Symons, 5 December 1991

Randall Jarrell: A Literary Life 
by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 335 pp., $25, April 1990, 0 374 24677 7
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Randall Jarrell: Selected Poems 
edited by William Pritchard.
Farrar, Straus, 115 pp., $17.95, April 1990, 0 374 25867 8
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... Carlos Williams he said that ‘even his good critical remarks sound as if they had been made by Henry Ford’; of Edith Sitwell’s then fashionable poems that they ‘sound as if Madame Blavatsky had written them for a Society of Latterday Druids’. In a sonnet series by Conrad Aiken ‘any similarity between the poems and reality is purely ...

Yuh wanna play bad?

Christopher Tayler: Henry Roth, 23 March 2006

Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth 
by Steven Kellman.
Norton, 372 pp., $16.99, September 2005, 0 393 05779 8
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Call It Sleep 
by Henry Roth.
Picador US, 462 pp., $15, July 2005, 0 312 42412 4
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... For a long time, Henry Roth’s silence was considered one of the most resonant in modern American literature. Ralph Ellison and J.D. Salinger were his only competition. When Call It Sleep (1934), Roth’s first novel, became a bestseller, thirty years after it first appeared, reporters found him scraping a living in Maine, gloomily slaughtering ducks and geese with equipment he’d made out of parts scavenged from discarded washing-machines ...

Love in the Ruins

Nicolas Tredell, 8 October 1992

Out of the Rain 
by Glyn Maxwell.
Bloodaxe, 112 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 1 85224 193 4
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Body Politic 
by Tony Flynn.
Bloodaxe, 60 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 129 2
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Red 
by Linda France.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £5.95, June 1992, 1 85224 178 0
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Red-Haired Android 
by Jeremy Reed.
Grafton, 280 pp., £7.99, July 1992, 9780586091845
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Leaf-Viewing 
by Peter Robinson, with an essay by Peter Swaab.
Robert Jones, 36 pp., £9.95, July 1992, 0 9514240 2 5
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... In Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, the Prince found by the River Thames ‘a more convincing image of the truth of the ancient state than any they have left by the Tiber’. Of course, the truth of the ancient state, like the truth of the British state at the turn of the 19th century, was not necessarily a wholly savoury one ...

Money Man

Michael Neill: Shakespeare in Company, 6 February 2014

Shakespeare in Company 
by Bart van Es.
Oxford, 357 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 19 956931 1
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... guise of a dramatic poet: an ‘upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you’. Partly as a result of this document, we are used to thinking of Shakespeare as a player turned writer; van Es, however, observing the absence of ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... most staunch supporters in the 1930s. Few were more unwavering in their support than his brother Henry, yet even he complained the previous year that ‘sometimes you remind me of a gentleman in full evening dress and white gloves attempting to put something right with the kitchen plumbing without soiling his attire.’ It comes as no surprise when the great ...

Unsluggardised

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... threadbare. Tasked with researching Shakespeare’s brother-in-law, the shadowy hatter William Hart, Cathy Shrank notes ‘how invisible to the historical record someone of non-gentry status can be … if they are not badly behaved – or unfortunate – enough to show up in court records, or sufficiently wealthy and respectable to serve as a local office ...

Societies

Perry Anderson, 6 July 1989

A Treatise on Social Theory. Vol. II: Substantive Social Theory 
by W.G. Runciman.
Cambridge, 493 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 521 24959 7
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... understanding combining – in so many words – ambitions of a Ranke, a Comte, a Proust and a Hart: to report accurately, to explain scientifically, to re-create imaginatively, and to judge impartially and benevolently. Perhaps the most striking feature of this programme was its association of two aims normally reckoned antithetical: an explanatory ...

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