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No False Modesty

Rosemary Hill: Edith Sitwell, 20 October 2011

Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius 
by Richard Greene.
Virago, 532 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 86049 967 8
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... presence, described Sitwell in real life as like ‘a high altar on the move’, and Virginia Woolf, on first encountering her in 1918, noted that she was ‘a very tall young woman, wearing a permanently startled expression, and curiously finished off with a high green silk headdress, concealing her hair, so that it is not known whether she has ...

Tomboy Grudge

Claire Harman, 27 February 1992

Rose Macaulay: A Writer’s Life 
by Jane Emery.
Murray, 381 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7195 4768 7
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... there is a general air of cold fish about all Macaulay’s work, as Virginia Woolf noted of the successful 1920 novel, Potterism: ‘Rose, judging from her works, is a Eunuch – that’s what I dislike most about Potterism. She has no parts. And surely she must be the daughter of a don?’ The ‘lack of parts’ is Macaulay’s ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... Jane Heap of the Little Review to Todd’s Madge Garland, her fashion editor at Vogue). Woolf called her Champco, and borrowed her clothes: ‘How odd, it comes into my mind, is Nessa & my jealousy of each other’s clothes! I feel her, when I put on my smart black fringed cape, anguished for a second: did I get it from Champco?’ Todd continued ...

Anglo-Egyptian Attitudes

Marina Warner, 5 January 2017

... by Edwin Landseer. The tradition later influenced society photographers – Madame Yevonde, Cecil Beaton – who encouraged fantasy play-acting in their subjects. Christmas cards sent from posts in the empire assemble the British colony in fancy dress – sometimes cross-dressed and sometimes dressed up as the locals. All over the pink map in the 19th ...

Votes for Women, Chastity for Men

Brian Harrison, 21 January 1988

Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 241 12105 1
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Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 
by Susan Kingsley Kent.
Princeton, 295 pp., £22, June 1987, 0 691 05497 5
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Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 
by Pat Jalland.
Oxford, 366 pp., £19.50, November 1986, 0 19 822668 3
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An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 
by A.M. McBriar.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, July 1987, 0 19 820111 7
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... as welcome to the respectable artisan (much cultivated by feminists) as to anyone else. Virginia Woolf records the shock that ran through a Women’s Co-operative Guild branch meeting when Mrs Bessie Ward ventured to discuss venereal disease in 1917. If only because of their need for a following, British suffragist leaders were far more conciliatory to men ...

Another Mother

Frank Kermode, 13 May 1993

Morgan: A Biography of E.M. Forster 
by Nicola Beauman.
Hodder, 404 pp., £20, May 1993, 0 340 52530 4
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... Max Garnett/Clive Durham.’ Given these criteria of resemblance, the names of Augustus Hervey and Cecil Vyse are not ‘quite dissimilar’, so Morgan may have seen his tutor Mr Hervey, who, like Cecil Vyse, wore ‘eyeglasses and a moustache’, trying to kiss his mother. Names also have an etymological ...


Stefan Collini: C. Day-Lewis, 6 September 2007

C. Day-Lewis: A Life 
by Peter Stanford.
Continuum, 368 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 8264 8603 5
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... group identity. In the 1930s, that identity seemed to be incarnated in its purest form in Cecil Day-Lewis (as an author, he used only his initial, and for a while he experimented, driven by self-consciousness about class, with omitting the hyphen). Of the four, it was Day-Lewis who came closest to fulfilling the ancient bardic role of recording in ...

Unliterary, Unpolished, Unromantic

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Merchant of Prato’, 8 February 2018

The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City 
by Iris Origo.
Penguin, 400 pp., £10.99, May 2017, 978 0 241 29392 8
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... study of Byron’s daughter Allegra, both issued in 1935. The latter was published by Leonard Woolf’s Hogarth Press, which led to her meeting with Virginia Woolf, whose diaries describe her as ‘tremulous’, ‘honest-eyed’ and very glamorous: ‘I like her bird of paradise flight through the gay world. A long ...

Daisy Chains

Emma Hogan: Sappho 1900, 20 May 2021

No Modernism without Lesbians 
by Diana Souhami.
Head of Zeus, 464 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78669 487 4
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... she sent a fan letter to H.D. asking if she could visit her in Cornwall, where she was living with Cecil Gray, a musicologist, while her husband, Richard Aldington, was serving on the Western Front. H.D. thought the writer was an elderly schoolmistress: she got a surprise when the 24-year-old millionaire’s daughter turned up. Souhami compares their meeting ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy, 6 June 2002

Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... Andy Warhol. Her sister Lee offered her support and then gossiped about her to Truman Capote and Cecil Beaton. (‘You don’t know what it is like being with Jackie,’ she told Beaton. ‘She can’t sleep at night and she can’t stop thinking about herself and never feeling anything but sorry for herself.’) When Ben Bradlee and his wife suggested that ...

Trouble down there

Ferdinand Mount: Tea with Sassoon, 7 August 2003

Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet 1886-1918 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 7156 2894 1
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Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches 1918-67 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 526 pp., £30, April 2003, 0 7156 2971 9
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Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil 
by Peter Stansky.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09547 3
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... were added, later its most memorable feature, a grand triumphal Trojan staircase of Mussolini or Cecil B. De Mille proportions, from the top of which you could see France on a clear day. Inside, there was a Moorish courtyard, marble everywhere and extravagant murals by José María Sert, ‘the Tiepolo of the Ritz’. Philip was fully aware of the high camp ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... sadly, now infected with salmonella’). Then there is the long line of sex-scandal casualties: Cecil Parkinson, Tim Yeo, David Mellor (greatly exaggerated, but not his only alleged misdemeanour), Hartley Booth, Michael Brown (though he is a borderline case, since he resigned from office while denying allegations that he had had a homosexual ...

The Uncommon Reader

Alan Bennett: A Story, 8 March 2007

... expecting it to be, well, she wasn’t sure what she expected, but it wasn’t what it was. ‘Oh. Cecil Beaton. Did you know him?’ ‘No, maam.’ ‘No, of course not. You’d be too young. He always used to be round here, snapping away. And a bit of a tartar. Stand here, stand there. Snap, snap. So there’s a book about him ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... when I go to London, I load up on greasy wartime postcards in one of the memorabilia shops in Cecil Court. (‘Helping an Ambulance through the Mud’, ‘Armée Anglaise en Observation’, ‘The Destruction at Louvain, Belgium’, ‘Tommy at Home in German Dugouts!’) I’ve got a whole shelf on war artists: C.R.W. Nevinson, Paul Nash, William ...

The Force of the Anomaly

Perry Anderson: Carlo Ginzburg, 26 April 2012

Threads and Traces: True False Fictive 
by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by Anne Tedeschi and John Tedeschi.
California, 328 pp., £20.95, January 2012, 978 0 520 25961 4
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... reconstruction by a literary scholar of the path to modern realism, from the Odyssey to Virginia Woolf, whose route included Ammianus, Gregory of Tours, Saint-Simon, historians and memorialists along with poets and novelists. Literature thus both preceded history in Ginzburg’s cursus, and has always thereafter lain adjacent to it. There is a long tradition ...

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