Declan Ryan

Fun and games at the TLS

‘When everyone appears to be of one accord in thinking the right thing, go the other way.’ This was, broadly speaking, the maxim by which J.C. wrote his weekly N.B. column for the Times Literary Supplement, after inheriting it from David Sexton in 1997. Tonally different to the rest of the paper, N.B. under J.C.

Andrew Motion pays tribute to his poetic mentors

Andrew Motion has previously published a memoir of childhood, In the Blood (2006), but this new book focuses on his becoming a poet, his search for mentors and subsequent writing life. Motion, a country boy, has a Words-worthian bent, and talks about the pull of evocative recollections, already hardening when he entered adulthood, as ‘equivalent

Shirley Hazzard – so in love with Italy she spoke in arias

Shirley Hazzard’s ‘untimeliness’ is a recurrent aspect in most descriptions of her, both the writing and the person. She came to represent ‘a vanished age of civility’: there is something Victorian about her novels, despite the last of them, The Great Fire, being published in 2003, by which time she was starting to resemble ‘an

Suicide was always a spectre for John Berryman

‘A matter that hurts me is that I have made many hundreds of people laugh, in various cities, during the last year or so, but not you — and your father is thought to be a wit.’ This was the poet John Berryman to his nearly-estranged son Paul in 1964. The hurt, off-kilter tone and

Trinity Hospital

There was a gunboat on the river when you led me to your new favourite spot: a home for retired sailors; squat, white, stuccoed, with a golden bell. It could have been a lost Greek chapel, a monument to light, designed to remind the old boys of their leave on Ionic shores among tobacco and