Wizard of Oz

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Interests to be declared: with the exception of the venerable Frith Banbury, I have known no stage director longer nor admired one more than Michael Blakemore. We first met in Sydney when I was eight and he was, I would guess, about eighteen. A doctor’s son determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps, he joined […]

Whatever Next?

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Where do we now stand on James Lees-Milne? In particular, what do we make of these spooky, posthumously published diaries arriving every other year from beyond the grave? Are they tailing off or getting better and better? And what do they tell us about the dear departed diarist himself? Is he the nicest, sweetest man who […]

A Nation Writes

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

After spending some time studying cannibals in the South Pacific, the anthropologist Tom Harrisson came home in 1936 and decided that it would be just as interesting to subject the ordinary people of this country to similar scientific scrutiny. This led to the creation of Mass- Observation, very much a typical product of the period. The […]

Burmese Days

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

This is a horrifying and extraordinary book. Nobody will read it for pleasure. It is a record of man’s inhumanity to man, an appalling story of Japanese brutality during the Second World War; but – and one can only be grateful for this – it is also testimony to the resilience of the human spirit, to […]

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