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How does he come to be mine?

Tim Parks: Dickens’s Children, 8 August 2013

Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens 
by Robert Gottlieb.
Farrar, Straus, 239 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 0 374 29880 7
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... garden with some of the older children. In Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens, Robert Gottlieb quotes the letter in which Dickens explains to his wife what happened: ‘Presently, we heard them come back and say to each other with some alarm: “Why, the gate’s shut, and they are all gone!” Ally began in a dismayed way ...

On Darwin’s Trouble with the Finches

Andrew Berry: The genius of Charles Darwin, 7 March 2002

Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands 
by Edward Larson.
Penguin, 320 pp., £8.99, February 2002, 0 14 100503 3
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... had been at sea for nearly four years, and, as he wrote to his Cambridge mentor, John Henslow, Charles Darwin was increasingly anxious to get home: ‘I look forward with joy and interest to [visiting the Galapagos], both as being somewhat nearer to England, & for the sake of having a good look at an active Volcano.’ He had cause to expect some ...

Seriously ugly

Gabriele Annan, 11 January 1990

Weep no more 
by Barbara Skelton.
Hamish Hamilton, 166 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 241 12200 7
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... husband; George Weidenfeld, her second; and her last recorded lover, the French writer Bernard Frank. There is no photograph of her third husband, the millionaire Derek Jackson, but he did not seriously engross her. She bit him twice, really hard the second time, so he shuffled off into his sixth marriage, leaving her with a farmhouse near St Tropez and ...

Too Much for One Man

Thomas Penn: Kaiser Karl V, 23 January 2020

Emperor: A New Life of Charles
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 760 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 0 300 19652 8
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... In late​ 1555 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and head of the house of Habsburg, returned to the Low Countries, where he was born: there, he began the long, slow process by which he abdicated in favour of his son Philip and brother Ferdinand. It was abundantly clear why such a transfer of power was necessary ...

Come here, Botham

Paul Foot, 9 October 1986

High, Wide and Handsome. Ian Botham: The Story of a Very Special Year 
by Frank Keating.
Collins, 218 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 00 218226 2
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... Sobers, who? Some Australians who grew up when I did argue with some force for Keith Miller. As Frank Keating’s book proves, however, Miller can quickly be rejected for second place. It goes, unquestionably, to Ian Botham. Indeed in one crucial respect, Botham beats even the great Sobers himself. Only 22 times in over a thousand Test matches has a player ...

Hackney

W.G. Runciman, 20 October 1983

Inside the Inner City 
by Paul Harrison.
Pelican, 444 pp., £3.95, August 1983, 9780140224191
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Brighton on the Rocks: Monetarism and the Local State 
Queens Park Rates Book Group, 192 pp., £3.95, May 1983, 0 904733 08 4Show More
The Wealth Report 
edited by Frank Field.
Routledge, 164 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 7100 9452 3
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... as he says it is. He is treading geographically but not methodologically in the footsteps of Charles Booth. His aim is to convey to his readers as vividly as he can just how awful are the lives of the poor and powerless inhabitants of the inner cities of a supposedly civilised nation which ought to be a great deal more ashamed of allowing such conditions ...

The market taketh away

Paul Foot, 3 July 1997

Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... This organisation very soon started to show signs of the malaise it was set up to cure. One man, Charles Knight Murray, assumed great power over the Church estates, but forgot to tell the Commissioners that he was a director of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway and an eager speculator in railway shares. To pay for his prodigious share purchases, he ...

Sun and Strawberries

Mary Beard: Gwen Raverat, 19 September 2002

Gwen Raverat: Friends, Family and Affections 
by Frances Spalding.
Harvill, 438 pp., £30, June 2001, 1 86046 746 6
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... Gwen Darwin in Cambridge (in a house that is now Darwin College) in 1885, the granddaughter of Charles. The Darwins were a vast dynasty: seven of Charles’s ten children survived to adulthood and between them produced ten grandchildren and almost thirty great-grandchildren. The sons understandably found their father’s ...

He could not cable

Amanda Claybaugh: Realism v. Naturalism, 20 July 2006

Frank Norris: A Life 
by Joseph McElrath and Jesse Crisler.
Illinois, 492 pp., £24.95, January 2006, 0 252 03016 8
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... When Frank Norris died of appendicitis in 1902, at the age of 32, he had written six novels, as well as scores of essays and reviews. At least two of the novels, McTeague (1899) and The Octopus (1901), are recognised masterpieces, and a number of the essays, particularly those about the Spanish-American War, retain their power today ...

The Devil upon Two Sticks

Charles Nicholl: Samuel Foote, 23 May 2013

Mr Foote’s Other Leg: Comedy, Tragedy and Murder in Georgian London 
by Ian Kelly.
Picador, 462 pp., £18.99, October 2012, 978 0 330 51783 6
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... case. Foote’s theatrical career began under the tutelage of the veteran Irish actor and director Charles Macklin. Somewhat improbably, his first outing, in early 1744, was in the role of Othello. This was received well enough but his more notable success, first in London and then in Dublin, was as Lord Foppington in Vanbrugh’s The Relapse. Other repertory ...

The Great Percy

C.H. Sisson, 18 November 1982

Stranger and Brother: A Portrait of C.P. Snow 
by Philip Snow.
Macmillan, 206 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 333 32680 6
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... quickly recognised as years ahead of his age’. Philip refers to his brother throughout as ‘Charles’, and it is time to reveal that he was known at home as Percy, and Percy he remained for the first 45 years, ‘distant relatives’ so addressing him even after that. For the world in which he was rising ‘Snow’ was enough – surnames were, after ...

Theophany

Frank Kermode: William Golding, 5 November 2009

William Golding: The Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ 
by John Carey.
Faber, 573 pp., £25, 0 571 23163 2
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... long and successful struggle against the opposing forces of evil. He explained to his editor, Charles Monteith, that Matty in Darkness Visible was meant to be a saint, like Simon and the curé d’Ars and St Thérèse of Lisieux. ‘It’s a figure I’ve tried for again and again and I suppose Matty in Darkness Visible is as near as I shall ever ...

Broken Knowledge

Frank Kermode, 4 August 1983

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 383 pp., £9.50, March 1983, 0 19 214111 2
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The Travellers’ Dictionary of Quotation: Who said what about where? 
edited by Peter Yapp.
Routledge, 1022 pp., £24.95, April 1983, 0 7100 0992 5
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... that small degree of overlap between Auden and Gross. Auden fancies aphorists like Simone Weil and Charles Williams, neither to be found in Gross, and Gross has his pets – Sherrington, for instance, and Thomas Szasz, unknown to Auden. The earlier book has a useful thematic index, Gross’s has not. Gross is more specific about his sources. Both classify ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED, 20 April 1989

... a blood type, a paper size, a record side and a social class (though this last usage dates from Charles Booth’s Labour and Life of the People of 1889, a moment too late for Murray and his readers), plus a whole string of modern abbreviations and acronyms (a word first recorded in America in 1943). Nine columns pass before we hit a as indefinite article ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council, 4 December 1986

... The failure of the Council’s literature policies cannot be attributed to popular opinion. Since Charles Osborne was for a long time the director of the Literature Department, we might expect to find the true explanation of its demise in his memoirs, the first fruits of his leisure in early retirement.† There is an odd devil in Mr Osborne which is always ...

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