Rosemary Hill

Rosemary Hill’s most recent book is Time’s Witness: History in the Age of Romanticism. Her four-part series, Romantic History, can be found on the LRB Podcast. She is a contributing editor at the LRB.

At the Garden Museum: Constance Spry

Rosemary Hill, 9 September 2021

Flower​ arranging occupies a lowly rung in the English cultural hierarchy. Somewhere between handicraft and hobby and associated mostly with women, it conjures up images of 1950s housewives filling the suburban afternoons or savage competition at the WI. Constance Spry had no time for any of that. The first and still one of the few flower arrangers to become a household name, she pointedly...

How peculiar it is: Gorey’s Glories

Rosemary Hill, 3 June 2021

‘What were you like as a child?’ Dick Cavett asked Edward Gorey on his talk show in November 1977. ‘Small,’ he replied. Gorey, who died in 2000 at the age of 75, did not like to talk about himself or his work, which depended, like the Japanese literature he admired, ‘very much [on] what is left out’. Someone who thought of himself principally as a writer,...

Above Primark, at Nos. 14­-28, is the handsome faience frontage of the former Lyons Oxford Corner House. At No. 8, above McDonalds, there is the ‘robust brick front with crowning gablet in the Waterhouse-­Romanesque manner, per­ haps of c.1880’ that was once a tailor’s or clothier’s shop. These are the traces of the changing retail patterns of the 19th century: from small to big, from individual stalls, bazaars and arcades to giant specialised emporia and department stores.

Gosh, what am I like? The Revenge Memoir

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 2020

Like poison​, the revenge memoir is a weapon of the weak. A person unlikely to prevail in an open fight will naturally resort to indirect methods. This is often the case for women, whose sex and apparent insignificance has rendered them invisible. During the Second World War it was felt necessary to run a propaganda campaign warning men that women could hear what they were saying. The...

At Tate Britain: Aubrey Beardsley

Rosemary Hill, 24 September 2020

‘Irepresent things as I see them,’ Aubrey Beardsley said, ‘outlined faintly in thin streaks (just like me).’ Beardsley, who died at 25, passed his brief life in the fin-de-siècle milieu of Max Beerbohm and Oscar Wilde. Like them, he was his own artefact. Immensely thin and hollow-eyed with long fingers and a large nose, he seemed to the actress Elizabeth Robins,...

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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