Rosemary Hill

Rosemary Hill’s most recent book is Time’s Witness: History in the Age of Romanticism. Her four-part series, The Lives of Stonehenge, can be found on the LRB Podcast. She is a contributing editor at the LRB. Having dismissed Constable, she is still pondering the subject of her next book.

The England​ of 1530 lives deep in the national imagination. It was a landscape of timber-framed manor houses, castles, small towns and villages, spires and towers. At about 2.6 million the population was still in recovery from the Black Death and half what it had been in 1300, but there was a general air of prosperity. London, always an exception, was densely packed with houses whose...

The catastrophe​ of the First World War was, for many women, ‘pure liberation’. The words are those of the novelist E.M. Delafield, whose Diary of a Provincial Lady was the ancestor of Bridget Jones. There was a sense of relief at emerging into a world from which the constraints of the Edwardian age had been blown away. The loss of 880,000 men meant that many women would never...

Diary: Aboriginal Voices

Rosemary Hill, 14 December 2023

Just west​ of Alice Springs is a turn-off marked ‘Flynn’s Grave’. It leads to a blunt stone plinth with a round boulder on top and a plaque commemorating John Flynn (1880-1951), a Presbyterian minister who was sent by his church to the Northern Territory in 1912 to investigate conditions in the bush. His report was grim, describing poor communications and scant healthcare....

Smoke and Lava: Vesuvius Observed

Rosemary Hill, 5 October 2023

Vesuvius​ is the only active volcano on mainland Europe and perhaps the most famous in the world. Its most recent eruption was in 1944, the latest in a series of eruptions that began in 1660. By 1737, which saw the sixth of them, it was apparent to a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Naples, who had seen the ‘inextinguishable fires’, that Vesuvius afforded ‘ample...

At the Courtauld: ‘Art and Artifice’

Rosemary Hill, 7 September 2023

In the mid​-1990s, I bought a watercolour from a pleasantly ramshackle antique shop I used to frequent in Walmer. It shows two boats, a yacht and a two-funnel liner on a choppy sea, and has a hefty but cheap gilt frame. The painting is done in a flat, naive style, reminiscent of Alfred Wallis, though the colours are not like his and anyway it is signed. The initials ‘S.B.’ in a...

Leave me my illusions: Antiquarianism

Nicholas Penny, 29 July 2021

Moonlight on broken stone tracery is a common motif; dark interiors provide a foil for stained glass and for white satin and deep blue velvet. The men must be away on the crusades. Young women are sobbing...

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Very Pointed: Pugin

Dinah Birch, 20 September 2007

Modern lives look prim beside the turbulent existence of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Distractions and misfortunes proliferated throughout his career: shipwreck (he was in his own boat,...

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