News and reviews

Fabulosa! recommended summer reading in the Observer

Added on 14/07/2019

Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language by Paul Baker is a compelling history of the linguistic lengths to which gay people had to go to hide in plain sight within an aggressively homophobic culture.

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Jerusalem: City of the Book reviewed in the Spectator

Added on 13/07/2019

The bearded figure clad in white robes and wandering barefoot through the streets of Jerusalem is not, in fact, the messiah. But neither is he a very naughty boy.  Rather, he is a middle-aged man from Texas in need of a shower…

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Alberto Manguel writes about Fabulous Monsters in Prospect

Added on 13/07/2019

Because my father was a diplomat, my childhood was spent travelling from place to place. The bedrooms in which I slept, the words spoken outside, the landscapes around me constantly changed. Only my library remained the same.

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Insurgent Empire – a superb study of anticolonial resistance

Added on 11/07/2019

Statues of great white Englishmen are not very popular these days. Since 2016, campaigners have been trying to “decolonise” Britain’s history by removing memorials to imperialists such as Cecil Rhodes and the slave-trader Edward Colston.

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New York Times reviews Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee

Added on 11/07/2019

It’s been a while since I was startled by contemporary sculpture, enough to make me wonder “How on earth did someone even think to do this, never mind do it?” That was my reaction to Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee.

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Nightingales in Berlin reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement

Added on 09/07/2019

The author of Why Birds Sing (2005) takes a personal journey through music and birdsong, loosely circling the celebrated nightingales of central Berlin as he pursues the notion of the “perfect sound”.

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Financial Times reviews Stop Mugging Grandma

Added on 03/07/2019

Class used to predict how people would vote in Britain. In 1974 if you were working class you were three times more likely to vote Labour than Conservative. Now the distribution of votes by class is almost even.

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A mind-bending history of mescaline reviewed in the Economist

Added on 29/06/2019

Mescaline is the drug that launched the modern fascination with hallucinogens. It is also the hallucinogen for which there is the earliest evidence of human use. At Chavin de Huantar, a temple complex in the Peruvian Andes…

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Fabulosa! A bona history of Polari, Britain’s secret gay slang

Added on 28/06/2019

Slang, throughout its history, has given a voice to the margins of language and of society. But it has its own margins too. Beyond the founding vocabulary of criminality, or the vast playground focused on our giblets and their interactions…

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Hannah Betts interviews Sir Roy Strong in the Telegraph

Added on 25/06/2019

One does not expect national treasures to go tearing about the country on two wheels, not least when they turn 84 this summer. But, then, Sir Roy Strong is no common-or-garden national treasure.

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Polari, the secret gay argot, is making a surprising comeback

Added on 21/06/2019

Imagine you’re a gay man living in 1950. Not unnaturally, you would like to meet another gay man. How to identify yourself to a potential partner? A confession might bring the police; dressing yourself distinctively will invite ridicule.

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The Evening Standard’s Summer Reading Guide

Added on 20/06/2019

The National Portrait Gallery’s superb exhibition of Elizabethan miniatures closed last month but for those who missed it, Elizabeth Goldring’s Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist is worth the price for its beautiful photographs alone.

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