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Your Mum and Dad

Paul Sayer, 2 February 1989

Thou shalt not uncover thy mother’s nakedness 
by George Hayim.
Quartet, 232 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 7043 2690 6
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My Father’s House 
by Sylvia Fraser.
Virago, 254 pp., £4.95, February 1989, 0 86068 181 5
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... successful, and the child is appeased with £20,000. The death of Ellis Hayim concludes the story. Sylvia Fraser’s father always wore a white shirt, navy suit and red tie to his job as a steel inspector. He was a regular churchgoer who did not allow drinking or smoking in his house – the house in which he sexually assaulted his ‘favourite’ younger ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov, 24 September 2014

Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... the individual lyric) were rigorous and concise. It would be easy enough to claim her, along with Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich, as one of the most important women writing poetry in English in the decades after the Second World War, if ‘woman poet’ hadn’t been a category Levertov despised. ‘Among Jews a Goy, among Gentiles … a Jew or at least a ...

Boomerang

Sylvia Lawson, 18 February 1988

Australians: A Historical Library 
Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, AUS $695Show More
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... all – historians among them. The ABA has had a rocky ride since its establishment, by a hopeful Fraser Government in 1981, with public fights, expensive resignations, and manifest uncase about its own raisond’être expressed in the censorship of its shiny literature: employees have been forbidden, for example, to use the word ‘invasion’ with reference ...

Nice Guy

Michael Wood, 14 November 1996

The Life and Work of Harold Pinter 
by Michael Billington.
Faber, 414 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 571 17103 6
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... Vivien Merchant in 1980 (she died two years later of alcoholic poisoning) and married Antonia Fraser. During the Sixties, Pinter had, we now learn, an affair with TV presenter Joan Bakewell, which Billington, before finally coming clean, presents to us with remarkable coyness. We are first told that Pinter ‘began a serious extra-marital relationship ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... number … lays a particular obligation on the biographer to make his purpose plain.’ Rebecca Fraser justified her Life on the basis that the twenty years since Gérin’s had brought much material to light. ‘Yet another biography,’ Barker writes in The Brontës, ‘requires an apology, or at least an explanation.’ Harman doesn’t justify ...

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