Richard Holmes

Richard Holmes Shelley: The Pursuit was published in 1974.

Shelley in Season

Richard Holmes, 16 October 1980

If all poets have their psychic season, Shelley belongs to the very late stormy autumn and the very early frosty spring. His is a time of transitions: of high winds, wild hopes and freezing regrets. Both poetically and politically, it is an equinoctial world: restless, dangerous, brimming, beautiful and often cruel. This is the season of the Alastor-poet’s long pursuit, of Prometheus chained to his rock (pierced by ‘moon-freezing crystals’), of Julian’s evening ride with Count Maddalo, of the Wild West Wind, the breath of Autumn’s being.

The history of ballooning is inescapably a procession of failures. This is partly in the nature of balloon flight which, like politics and indeed life, must always end with a falling to earth, at...

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They had heard that we were great Philosophers, and expected much from us, one of the first questions that they askd was, when it would thunder. Joseph Banks, The ‘Endeavour’...

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The popularity of what is known as ‘literary biography’ suggests that there is a large audience eager to read about literature, but one that is not to be persuaded that the works of...

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He knew not what to do – something, he felt, must be done – he rose, drew his writing-desk before him – sate down, took the pen – – found that he knew not what to...

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Beast and Frog

John Bayley, 4 November 1993

Death is something that happens to other people: and hence, it might be inferred, the popularity of biography. Those whose lives are recorded die in the last chapter: the rest of us live for...

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The big drops start

John Bayley, 7 December 1989

‘Few moments in life so interesting,’ Coleridge noted, ‘as those of an affectionate reception from those who have heard of you yet are strangers to your person.’ The...

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Kipling and the Irish

Owen Dudley Edwards, 4 February 1988

Kipling leapt into British fame at the beginning of 1890, and it had been Ireland which had given him his chance – that and the rich harvest of short stories from his Indian years. He hit...

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Joining up

Angus Calder, 3 April 1986

A major in the Royal Anglian Regiment talks to Tony Parker about battle: I’ve only been in that kind of situation where someone’s been shooting at me, a total of about twelve times...

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The Adventures of Richard Holmes

Michael Holroyd, 1 August 1985

Earlier this summer, during two and a half days of sun, I was persuaded to join a Wordsworth and Coleridge pilgrimage in Somerset. One of the chief attractions was a rumour that Richard Holmes,...

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What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

When, in War and Peace, young Nikolai Rostov first rides, into action with his fellow hussars against the French at Austerlitz, he feels that the longed-for time has come ‘to experience the...

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Walking in high places

Michael Neve, 21 October 1982

It is time for a change, even in the small world of historical epithets. For ages, philosophers and historians have been haunted by intellectual tags, such as Was ist Aufklärung? There have...

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Playing Fields, Flanders Fields

Paul Delany, 21 January 1982

When Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth was published in 1933 it struck a deep chord among those in England who felt, as she did, that their youth had been ‘smashed up’ by the...

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