Saint Genet

Posted on by David Gelber

This book is rich in association and memory for me. To start off with, I set out to obtain the English language rights to publish it, but was pipped at the post. The translator, too, is known to me as a remarkable woman. We once spent three days together in Riyad, when she was working […]

How Beautiful They Stand

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In 1912, having inherited a fortune at the age of twenty-three, Philip Sassoon celebrated it by building himself a new home. The site – perched high above the vast expanse of Romney Marsh – was glorious. The house, a Dutch Colonial pastiche completed by Herbert Baker in 1914, was – if rather oversized – perfectly nice. Tall chimneys, curvy gables

Fifty Shades of Grey

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Brutalism is one of the few architectural style labels to have originally been used positively but subsequently become a term of abuse, in the process performing the opposite etymological journey to such terms as ‘gothic’ and ‘baroque’. ‘It is a concrete brutalist monstrosity’ is a blanket response that obscures the variety, beauty and complexity of […]

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Outsourcing is everywhere these days. The contracting out of public services to private-sector companies is a familiar mechanism that’s broadly understood to be in the interests of cost-saving, administrative efficiency and innovation. Yet it is also one that often leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Even those who argue – as I have certainly […]

Anxiety of Influence

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Tom Fletcher CMG was foreign policy spin doctor to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron between 2007 and 2011 before becoming British ambassador to Lebanon, where he served until 2015. ‘I’ve learned a huge amount from this job,’ he writes. ‘If I’m honest, I’m completely knackered. It’s been a demanding posting.’ Fletcher has since […]

Emperor’s New Clothes

Posted on by Marketing Manager

The Surrealist Georges Hugnet once commented that ‘Animals are beautiful because they are naked – on the inside too.’ He might have said the same about nakedness in art, for the fascination the nude exerts depends on its laying bare more than skin and bone; or, to put it another way, a nude pictures the […]

Murder Mile

Posted on by Marketing Manager

I have an old map of London, dating back to 1574, on which Soho is marked as an area of open fields and woods, with a few weird looking animals – like a cross between horses, cows and geese – dotted about. It always produces a powerful nostalgia to look to the north of Oxford Street […]

In Her Black Books

Posted on by Marketing Manager

Imagine a philistine England; imagine a country estate in Northamptonshire, an Eden encumbered by debt; imagine the conversation of women, dominated by ‘the three dreadful D’s of dress, domestics and disease.’ Then imagine a little girl of sixteen or eighteen who desperately wants to be good, and has the duties of her time and class: […]

She Adored Cockneys

Posted on by Marketing Manager

If you are not quite sure who Sylvia Townsend Warner was, you are not American. Though she was as English as afternoon tea, she was always more famous there than here, chiefly because of the 150 short stories she wrote for The New Yorker. She was also a much-published poet, the biographer of T H White, […]

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Smok Runs Amok

Posted on by Marketing Manager

It is fairly well known that before he emigrated to the United States in 1935, I B Singer was a rabbinical student, specialising in the study of Talmudic law. Judaism may have lost a good rabbi when Singer opted for a career as a writer (and this novel like the rest of his fiction is translated […]

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Lines of Beauty

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In 1895, the 23-year-old Max Beerbohm, looking back over his fledgling career, remarked with cod solemnity, ‘I belong to the Beardsley period.’ It had been a very brief period indeed, though an exciting one, a couple of years in the mid-1890s when it seemed as though many of the conventions and certainties of Victorian life might be swept away by a tide of daring and experiment in poetry, drama, literature and art. It is generally agreed that this new spirit of daring and experiment was embodied most vividly in the distinctive pen-and-ink drawings of the young Aubrey Beardsley – art editor and cover artist for the newly established Yellow Book and illustrator of the English edition of Oscar Wilde’s Salome. Nothing was so shocking as his boldly massed images of fashionably dressed, elongated women disporting themselves in the modern metropolis – their lips full

Making a Bang

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Not without reason, though often without much reflection, historians of the modern world have been fascinated by our capacity to kill each other by launching projectiles and blowing things up. The story of exploding devices has certainly been a thrilling one for those who believe that this particular means of destruction has been the motivating […]

Of Myths & Martyrs

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Nations often need a founding myth, and for the Republic of Ireland the events of 1916 provide that with poetic exactitude. Here was a rising led by a dissonant group of poets, dreamers, visionaries, hardened old Fenians, driven communists and patriotic rebels who had little chance against the might of the British Empire and duly […]

‘Great South Land of the Holy Spirit’

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In August 1699, the English adventurer William Dampier and the crew of HMS Roebuck, a twenty-six-gun warship, sailed into an uncharted bay on the far side of the world. It was Dampier’s second visit to this land, which he knew loosely as New Holland. Determined to document some of the flora, he spent about a […]

Self-Preservation Society

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, a book that encapsulates like no other the ineffable muddle of the Habsburg Empire, the eminent statesman Count Leinsdorf struggles to define the essence or even the raison d’être of the empire. His antithesis, the Prussian Jewish financier Arnheim, cherishes his visits to what he calls ‘the fairyland’ […]

Great Expectations

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The late Raymond Carr was a hunting man. Unfashionable as this hobby now is, it offered some scope for analogy and metaphor. One particular passage expressed his approach to history in the form of a warning to those who make large claims about the past: Of course without generalizations – about the class struggle, imperialism, […]

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