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Diary

Robert Fothergill: Among the Leavisites, 12 September 2019

... That was the required term. It had happened in late September on the floor of the living room of Linda’s cramped terraced house in Carshalton, with her mother asleep upstairs. On a trip to Switzerland I had bought her a very cheap blouse which I persuaded her to try on, thus inducing her to remove the one she was wearing. One thing led to another. I ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter, 22 September 1994

Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... Linda Wagner-Martin, a highly respected scholar of American literature who teaches at the University of North Carolina, was bewildered by the hostile reception in Britain of her biography of Sylvia Plath, published in 1987. Not only had she run into major conflicts with the Plath estate, she explains in her preface to Telling Women’s Lives, but some critics saw her as both an ‘unethical commercial writer’ and a radical feminist ...

Diary

Linda Colley: Anita Hill v. Clarence Thomas, 19 December 1991

... often had more power in filling these positions than has the President himself. Bush went for a black candidate in part because the vacancy had been created by the retirement of the Supreme Court’s only black judge, the highly distinguished Thurgood Marshall. And he went for Thomas, of course, because he was a ...

Room for the Lambs

Elizabeth Spelman: Sexual equality, 26 January 2006

Women’s Lives, Men’s Laws 
by Catharine MacKinnon.
Harvard, 558 pp., £25.95, March 2005, 0 674 01540 1
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... develop legal and other sanctions against pornography – including having helped Deep Throat star Linda Boreman (Linda Lovelace was a nom de porn) reveal the often coercive and violent underside of the industry. Indeed, so prominent is MacKinnon as an anti-pornography activist and sometime adviser to ...

I am the Watchman

Linda Colley: William Cobbett, forerunner of the Sun, 20 November 2003

William Cobbett: Selected Writings 
edited by Leonora Nattrass.
Pickering & Chatto, 2312 pp., £495, December 1998, 1 85196 375 8
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Rural rides 
by William Cobbett, edited by Ian Dyck.
Penguin, 576 pp., £9.99, September 2001, 0 14 043579 4
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... in his own country were now walking openly ‘along the streets, hanging upon the arms of nasty black men’. Cobbett’s attitudes towards women and sex – like his racism – have usually been decently marginalised, yet they are part of why he urgently needs reappraising. We don’t have to know that his relationship with his wife was unhappy: there were ...
A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Granta, 516 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 86207 026 1
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan: A Life 
by Linda Kelly.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 366 pp., £25, April 1997, 1 85619 207 5
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Sheridan’s Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley 
by Alan Chedzoy.
Allison and Busby, 322 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 7490 0264 6
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... carefully composed exploration of Sheridan’s career’. His biography comes hard on the heels of Linda Kelly’s, and it would be comforting to report that O’Toole’s was the rehash, but the Granta puff has it the right way round, while Alan Chedzoy’s life of the first Mrs Sheridan (the noted soprano and beauty Elizabeth Linley) is more boisterously ...

Clean Clothes

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 March 1988

Scottish Lifestyle 300 Years Ago 
by Helen Kelsall and Keith Kelsall.
John Donald, 224 pp., £10, September 1986, 0 85976 167 3
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Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 
by Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall.
Hutchinson, 576 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 09 164700 2
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... the Countess of Polwarth are probably responsible for her daughter’s insistence, reproduced by Linda Pollock in her anthology of comments on family life, on a daily dose of arithmetic for her nine-year-old daughter. Women, even of the upper class, and even though aided by servants, were expected to carry out a wide range of manual domestic tasks. From ...

Snouty

John Bayley, 4 June 1987

The Faber Book of Diaries 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 498 pp., £12.95, March 1987, 0 571 13806 3
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... of the skin and laid it flat across the flesh – and then within all a sluggish corner drop of black or purple oil. Typing that out makes one see and feel the tailness of a peacock’s tail as never before, but the metaphors – flesh, green wetness – unlike those in a comparable poem, retain their secret involuntariness. As in the best diaries, there ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens, 21 September 1995

... some mutilated cattle. The CIA know all about boys’ aliens, the radar blips and the pilot’s black box, because boys can not only verify their aliens scientifically, they also conspire to cover this scientific proof up. Hence the 1947 Roswell Incident, the subject of the Channel 4 programme, in which the Air Force covered up the fact that real ...

Bang, Bang, Smash, Smash

Rosemary Hill: Beatrix Potter, 22 February 2007

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 584 pp., £25, January 2007, 978 0 7139 9560 2
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... that when it was destroyed by bombs during the Second World War she was ‘rather pleased’. Linda Lear suggests, plausibly, that the grimness of Potter’s childhood was exaggerated by her earlier biographers. Certainly it was materially comfortable but it was strikingly austere. The older Potters were affectionate in their way but their social ...

Because It’s Ugly

Jonathan Rosen: Double-Crested Cormorants, 8 October 2014

The Double-Crested Cormorant: Plight of a Feathered Pariah 
by Linda Wires.
Yale, 349 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 0 300 18711 3
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... ago, partly out of gratitude. I had just started watching birds, I was terrible at it, and the big black creatures – two and a half feet tall, with a wingspan of more than four feet – were easy to find, even in my field guide. Unlike the variegated wood warblers flitting from page to page deep inside the book, the cormorants lived at the front with the ...

I, too, am an artist

Linda Nochlin: Dora Maar, 4 January 2001

Dora Maar with and without Picasso: A Biography 
by Mary Ann Caws.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £24.95, October 2000, 0 500 51009 1
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... Untitled Film Stills, Fini poses melodramatically in the shadowy recesses of a bed with her black-stockinged legs prominently on display; in another, she emerges confrontationally from a curtain, displaying her breasts, with a black cat between her legs; and in a third, she lies on the floor surrounded by strewn ...

The Ground Hostess

Francis Wyndham, 1 April 1983

... denials while talking on the telephone two separate personalities were brought into being: that of Linda and that of Tone. Tone, of course, was short for Tony, who originally acquired his name as a result of Harriet mis-hearing a remark of mine quite unconnected with the subject. The Electric Cinema was showing a Pasolini season and I must have volunteered ...

Corn

Malcolm Bull, 6 January 1994

The Road to Wellville 
by T. Coraghessan Boyle.
Granta, 476 pp., £14.99, October 1993, 9780140142419
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The Collected Stories 
by T. Coraghessan Boyle.
Granta, 621 pp., £9.99, October 1993, 9780140140767
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... Stories – an improbable confection of soulful eyes, hollow cheeks, frizzy facial hair and black leather. But although the impression that Boyle is a low-life lion of the interstates is strenuously maintained by his publishers – who report that he was a child of the Sixties, ‘a maniacal crazy-driver’ who ate anything he could lay his hands ...

Diary

Linda Matthews: Living with Vivian Maier, 21 October 2015

... come to an interview. It was the end of August. A tall, imposing woman came up the front steps in black Oxfords and a black skirt, black jacket and wide-brimmed black hat. Her shirt was a brightly patterned cotton print, short-sleeved. Her hair was ...

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