Ferdinand Mount

Ferdinand Mount is the author, most recently, of Making Nice, a novel, and Kiss Myself Goodbye, a memoir of his mysterious Aunt Munca.

Swank and Swagger: Deals with the Pasha

Ferdinand Mount, 26 May 2022

Thestory begins with a bombardment, and it more or less ends with one too. In the spring of 1799, Admiral Sidney Smith’s naval squadron bombarded the coast at Acre, in what is now Israel, and effectively put an end to Napoleon’s dream of marching on to India in the wake of Alexander the Great. Two centuries later, another demonstration of ‘shock and awe’ lit up the...

No Innovations in My Time: George III

Ferdinand Mount, 16 December 2021

OnChristmas Day 1788, the king hid his bedclothes under the bed, put a pillowcase on his head and hugged the pillow, which he called Prince Octavius and said had just been born (Prince Octavius had died five years earlier at the age of four). When George realised what day it was and that he had been kept in his straitjacket and not allowed to go to church, he suddenly went under the sofa,...

Great Sums of Money: Swingeing Taxes

Ferdinand Mount, 21 October 2021

‘You  were so generous, you British,’ Hans-Dietrich Genscher, West Germany’s perpetual foreign minister in the 1980s, once remarked: ‘You gave us a decentralised federal structure and a proportional system of election so that never again could we concentrate power at the centre, but you took neither of these for yourselves.’ Canadians and Australians...

Short Cuts: Untilled Fields

Ferdinand Mount, 1 July 2021

‘This is certain – for I have noted it several times – some parts of England are becoming almost as lonesome as the African veld.’ This was Rider Haggard’s conclusion after two years’ gruelling travel across the farming counties of England in 1901 and 1902. Only the odd Irish tinker trudged the dusty roads. Thistles and rushes invaded the untilled...

There was​ always something a little weird about the scene: the heavy lectern hurriedly dragged out into the street from behind the famous front door, as though the premises were suddenly out of action because of flood damage or a bomb threat; on the other side of the road, the hacks and the pap pack awkwardly mustered and jostling for position. And the statement itself, all too obviously...

Sir John Low​ finally hung up his helmet seventy years after joining the Madras army in 1804, having served the East India Company as soldier, jailer, agent and councillor. As a rookie...

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You can tell Russia is not a real democracy because there is no great mystery about its politics. Democracies are slightly baffling in how they work: just look at America; just look at Europe; just...

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From Swindon to Swindon

Mary Beard, 17 February 2011

In February 1863, the newly founded Roman Bath Company opened its first premises in Jesus Lane, Cambridge. Behind an impressively classical façade, designed by Matthew Digby Wyatt, was a...

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Britain produces an extraordinary amount of commentary, in print, on television and on radio; so much that the production of opinion can seem to be our dominant industry, the thing we are best at...

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High Jinks at the Plaza

Perry Anderson, 22 October 1992

‘Constitutional theorists who wish to hold our attention must charm as well as instruct; this is not so, I think, in other countries,’ writes Ferdinand Mount. Who better to illustrate...

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Drabble’s Progress

John Sutherland, 5 December 1991

Some readers do not much like Margaret Drabble’s later novels because they are so different from her earlier successes. She may have lost one public and not as yet entirely won over...

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Love, Loss and Family Advantage

Rosalind Mitchison, 1 September 1983

Family Forms in Historic Europe is a collection of local studies from different parts of Europe, mostly based on ‘listings’: that is, on descriptions of the occupants of a local unit...

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