Category Archives: novels

Letchworth (a footnote to John Buchan)

In John Buchan’s  Mr Standfast (1919), Richard Hannay is sent on an undercover mission to ‘the Garden City of Biggleswick’, to live among the   high-minded pacifists who set the place’s tone. One of the residents describes the city: ‘It is one great laboratory of thought,’ said Mrs Jimson. ‘It is glorious to feel that […]

‘An Arnold Bennett Companion’

The very good news is that An Arnold Bennett Companion, edited by John Shapcott, has now been published. The cover, by the way, is one of Bennett’s own watercolours. I’m especially interested in this book because it includes a chapter by me, on Arnold Bennett and the Great War.

Margate, 1922

In The Waste Land (1922). T.S. Eliot, having spent time in Margate while recovering from a nervous breakdown, wrote: “On Margate Sands. I can connect Nothing with nothing. The broken finger-nails of dirty hands. My people humble people who expect Nothing.” In 1922 (the annus mirabilis of modernism) Margate was also referenced in another key […]

‘For This I Had Borne Him’ by G. F. Bradby

During the Boer War, G.F. Bradby had written caustically about the way the British were conducting the campaign, and about the moral support given by the Church. As well as his Kipling parody, ‘Processional’, which I have mentioned before, he wrote, among other poems, ‘The Concentration Camps: October, 1901’: Five thousand little children’s graves upon […]

‘Blue Danube’ by Eunice Buckley

This novel begins in the 1890s, with a Jewish patriarch in Vienna counting his blessings: Today, the Lord be thanked, the Jews were neither despised nor rejected, but mingled with the Gentiles on terms of equality: in some instances might it not even be proper to say on terms of superiority? When the book was […]

G. F. Bradby

Last week, as I mentioned, I was impressed by this Kipling parody, which I found in the conscientious objectors’ magazine, The Tribunal Processional Lord God of battles, whom we seek On clouds and tempests throned afar, When, tired of being tamely weak, We maffick into deadly war. If it should chance to be a sin, […]

Kipling: war as ‘crazy cinema’

From a letter to Andrew Macphail, April 1917: Make up your mind that we of this generation cannot overtake the war as it is. That will be done by the ’emotion recollected in quietude’ of our children – or our grandchildren. Even for us at the back emotion and passion is overlaid like a crazy […]

Warwick Deeping’s ‘Old Wine and New’

Asked to write about Sorrell and Son for a newspaper series on bestsellers, Kingsley Amis recorded that he began by taking umbrage at the book’s snobbery, and marked particularly repellent passages by writing ‘piss and shit’ in the margin. After a while, though, he stopped annotating, because he had become so gripped by the story. […]

The Women Police, and Warwick Deeping

It’s a hundred years since the introduction of women police in Britain, and there will be a documentary about their history on BBC4 next Monday. I wonder whether the programme will explain how very unpopular they were at first, especially with women. An interesting essay by Clare Langley-Hawthorne fills in the history. The first female […]

Rose Allatini’s husband

Cyril Scott in middle age Attempting to find out more about Rose Allatini, author of the extraordinary Despised and Rejected (1918), I’ve been looking at the autobiography of her husband Cyril Scott (1879-1970). He was a composer, and Bone of Contention (1969) is mostly about his music. It is a pleasant amble through his life, […]

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