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Making herself disagreeable

Barbara Wootton, 6 December 1984

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. III: ‘The Power to Alter Things’ 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 445 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 86068 211 0
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Beatrice and Sidney Webb: Fabian Socialists 
by Lisanne Radice.
Macmillan, 350 pp., £20, June 1984, 0 333 36183 0
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... The third and final volume of the Webb diaries, which covers the period 1905 to 1924, is appropriately subtitled ‘The Power to Alter Things’. Hitherto Beatrice had been mainly the stay-at-home book-writer and social entertainer, while Sidney pursued his activities in the London County Council as well as in the London School of Economics which the Webbs had themselves founded ...

I do and I don’t

Barbara Wootton, 21 October 1982

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. I 1873-1892: Glitter Around and Darkness Within 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 386 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 86068 209 9
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... Beatrice Potter was born in 1858 at Standish on the edge of the Cotswolds. Her father, Richard Potter, was a well-to-do (mainly self-made) businessman to whom she was devoted. Relations with her mother seem, however, to have been uneasy: the diary mentions ‘a kind of feeling of dislike and distrust which I believe is mutual’. For this she suffered a strong sense of guilt, as she earnestly believed that ‘whatever my mother might be, it ought not to make the slightest difference to my feelings and behaviour towards her ...

Honeymoon

Barbara Wootton, 1 December 1983

TheDiary of Beatrice Webb. Vol. II: All the Good Things in Life 
edited by Norman Mackenzie and Jeanne Mackenzie.
Virago, 376 pp., £18, October 1983, 0 86068 210 2
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... The final entry in Volume One of this diary, dated 23 July 1892, left Beatrice safely married to her Sidney, but lamenting that, according to current convention, as ‘Mrs Sidney Webb’ she would lose both her names. The next entry is dated 16 August and is divided between a brief reference to two delightful days of ‘real honeymoon in the Wicklow Hills’ and interviews with trade-unionists in Glasgow and elsewhere relevant to the History of Trade Unionism, which was to be their first joint book ...

Azure Puddles

John Bayley, 21 May 1987

Compton MackenzieA Life 
by Andro Linklater.
Chatto, 384 pp., £14.95, May 1987, 0 7011 2583 7
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... only reading-matter was a medical textbook and the first volume of what was to become Compton Mackenzie’s quadrilogy, The East, West, South and North Winds of Love. I embarked on it with hope and confidence, but after only a few pages had to give up and turn for entertainment to the medical book. Considering myself a mature and experienced reader, I ...

Diary

Ian Aitken: Closing Time at the Last Chance Saloon, 6 August 1992

... during the election campaign an unnamed cabinet minister telephoned the editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, to offer the names and phone numbers of several women who, he claimed, had had affairs with Paddy Ashdown. Mr Mackenzie made the allegation off-the-cuff in a BBC radio interview about the rights and wrongs of the ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... and atmosphere are still rich in hints of the life savoured by its great authors, from Dunbar to Norman MacCaig and Robert Garioch. The heyday of its literary, cultural and philosophic life lasted for a hundred years to the death of Scott and left its mark on Europe and America. An ancient city, a capital, with authors of all kinds, from Gavin Douglas to ...

‘The Sun Says’

Paul Laity, 20 June 1996

... it wasn’t long before he was replaced by the private-school educated, wannabe barrow-boy Kelvin MacKenzie.) Now that Murdoch has 131 other media enterprises to take care of, his personal impact must be negligible, but the old Murdochian personality of the paper remains. To some extent its self-proclaimed ‘radical’ championing of ‘the people’ against ...

Transformation

Rosalind Mitchison, 21 January 1982

Enemies of God: The Witch-Hunt in Scotland 
by Christina Larner.
Chatto, 244 pp., £12.95, September 1981, 0 7011 2424 5
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The Enlightenment in National Context 
edited by Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich.
Cambridge, 276 pp., £19.50, September 1981, 0 521 23757 2
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... The ‘craze’ was a short one, coinciding with the late wave of the general European scare. Norman Cohn has established that the existence of a witch scare in the early 14th century is an invention of historians. Witchcraft, in theory and in suppression, was a growth at the end of the 14th century, died down in the early 16th century to return in the ...

Picshuas

P.N. Furbank, 18 October 1984

Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusion of a Very Ordinary Brain (since 1866) 
by H.G. Wells.
Faber, 838 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 571 13330 4
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H.G. Wells in Love: Postscript to an Experiment in Autobiography 
edited by G.P. Wells.
Faber, 253 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 571 13329 0
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The Man with a Nose, and the Other Uncollected Short Stories of H.G. Wells 
edited by J.R. Hammond.
Athlone, 212 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 485 11247 7
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... West, in H.G. Wells: Aspects of a Life, is ironical about Wells’s edifying account (followed by Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie) of his ‘hard decision’ to leave the house he had built for himself in France. The truth, says West, is that Odette Keun had chucked him out. (Keun, it does strike one, was a real ...

Shaw tests the ice

Ronald Bryden, 18 December 1986

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 1241 pp., £65, September 1986, 0 571 13901 9
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... centenary life in 1956. Other scholars have browsed them for background material, notably Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie in their book The Fabians. But it has taken until now for any publisher to be persuaded that a public wider than that of economic historians has been waiting to learn what Shaw paid for boot dubbing ...

Goldfish are my homies

John Lahr, 22 October 2020

Casting Shadows: Fish and Fishing in Britain 
by Tom Fort.
William Collins, 368 pp., £20, April, 978 0 00 828344 5
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... with churning desire. One double-click of a computer mouse, and you’re on Canada’s cascading Mackenzie River, or New Zealand’s winding Hope River, or the deep aquamarine pools of the Big Blackfoot River in Montana. The sensational locations vary, but the thrill remains the same. The piquant tension of the pick-up. (‘C’mon, baby.’) Then, the ...

Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 23 October 2014

... did adopt him. His talents took him to the Royal High School, where William Drummond, Henry Mackenzie and Walter Scott had been before him. There Karl became favourite pupil and close friend of Hector MacIver, that incomparable teacher of literature, who recognised his gifts and took him with his other clever boys down the Calton Hill to Rose Street. In ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... and that Lois herself had been a high-school supporter of the Socialist Party of America under Norman Thomas and perhaps, at university, an admirer of the young militants whose star rose in the party during the early 1930s. Lois sends a funny letter to her family in December 1936, responding to ‘Mother’s crack that she was sorry I was a ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica, 20 March 2003

Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... a similar about-face in Paris. Then there are the many American intellectuals who followed Norman Podhoretz from the ranks of the liberal Left into reactionary self-bowdlerisation. For them American power is sacrosanct. In the 1960s V.S. Naipaul began, disquietingly, to systematise the revisionist view of empire. A disciple and wilful misreader of ...

Make for the Boondocks

Tom Nairn: Hardt and Negri, 5 May 2005

Multitude 
by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £20, January 2005, 0 241 14240 7
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... now less of a universal threat than it was between the 1950s and the 1980s. Some years back Donald MacKenzie argued in the LRB that – contrary to so many earlier previsions – nuclear weapons had been in effect ‘disinvented’ by the closure of the Cold War, and the colossal, escalating investment in both material and human resources needed to make them ...

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