Book review – Letters

Pamela Lane in 1957, the year after Look Back in Anger was first performed. On seeing the play, she was heard to exclaim: ‘Oh no, not the ironing board...’

First wife, enduring love: the passionate affair of John Osborne and Pamela Lane

31 March 2018 8:00 am

Look Back in Anger, John Osborne’s 1956 play, was a fertile cultural seedbed: out of it sprouted the Angry Young…

Even when Proust was sedated with heroin, there was no escaping the blaring of klaxons, the thud of demolition and the renovation of his neighbour’s toilet

Marcel Proust and his noisy neighbours

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Why would a writer like Marcel Proust, who quivered and wheezed at the slightest sensation, decide to live surrounded by…

The bright, funny side of Sylvia Plath

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In May 1956, three months after meeting Ted Hughes, one before they will marry, Sylvia Plath writes to her mother…

Karl Ove Knausgaard discovers the world anew

19 August 2017 9:00 am

Here is the opening sentence of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s meditation on beds.: With its four legs and its flat, soft…

Ida Nettleship, aged 24, the year she married Augustus John

The ordeal of being married to Augustus John

6 May 2017 9:00 am

What will we do when there are no longer caches of letters to piece together and decipher; only vague memories…

Denton Welch with baroque angel at Hadlow Road, Tonbridge, 1937

The embarrassing love letters of Denton Welch

4 March 2017 9:00 am

On the Whitsun weekend of 1935 an art student called Denton Welch was knocked off his bicycle by a car…

Roald Dahl’s perfect reader was his mother

25 June 2016 8:00 am

Love from Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to his Mother

T.S. Eliot’s crisis year: exhaustion, hair loss and a wrecked marriage

12 March 2016 9:00 am

F.R. Leavis once denounced the Twickenham edition of Pope’s Dunciad for producing a meagre trickle of text through a desert…

‘I hope you don’t mind these letters that just go on and on’

Iris Murdoch’s letters just go on and on — as she herself was the first to admit

29 October 2015 9:00 am

Iris Murdoch’s emotionally hectic novels have been enjoying a comeback lately, with an excellent Radio 4 dramatisation of The Sea,…

From Spike Milligan — and Marge Simpson — with love, light, peace and great respect

24 October 2015 9:00 am

This book is a serious bit of kit. Its hard covers measure 28.9 by 21 centimetres, and it weighs 1.62…

Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark: pen friends, not true friends

25 April 2015 9:00 am

Robert Cumming’s opening sentence is: ‘Kenneth Clark and Bernard Berenson first met in the summer of 1925.’ One is then…

Is it boring being the god of the sea?

18 October 2014 9:00 am

Writing to a god seems a presumptuous thing. Who are we, feeble mortal creatures whose lives pass in the blink…

Roger Mortimer writes again

19 April 2014 9:00 am

After Dear Lupin and Dear Lumpy, here’s a slightly more prosaically titled collection of letters from Roger Mortimer, longtime racing…

Hugh Trevor-Roper, the man who hated uniformity

18 January 2014 9:00 am

The arrival of a letter from Hugh Trevor-Roper initiated a whole series of pleasures.  Pleasure began with the very look…

Critics can be creative - look at Malcolm Cowley

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Even Spectator book reviewers have to concede that their craft is inferior to the creative travail of authors. Henry James…

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Andrew Jewell - review

17 August 2013 9:00 am

Richard Davenport-Hines on the tomboy from Red Cloud whose evocation of the vast, unforgiving landscape of the prairies is unrivalled