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Skipwith and Anktill

David Wootton: Tudor Microhistory, 10 August 2000

Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England 
byDavid Cressy.
Oxford, 351 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 19 820781 6
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A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the Second Earl of Castlehaven 
byCynthia Herrup.
Oxford, 216 pp., £18.99, December 1999, 0 19 512518 5
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... Both David Cressy and Cynthia Herrup believe they are writing microhistory, a word coined by Italians, but used to describe above all the work of Natalie Zemon Davis (The Return of Martin Guerre, 1983) and Robert Darnton (The Great Cat Massacre, 1984). Microhistorians have turned to the verbatim records of interrogations kept in the law courts of early modern Europe (or at least those parts of Europe where Roman law procedures were followed) to reconstruct the detailed stories of individual trials ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism, 22 November 2018

Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
byDaniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... The Sun ran it as a front page story: ‘Scandal of £600 a week Asians’. The Mirror followed up by condemning a ‘New Flood of Asians into Britain’. The Express warned that 145,000 further migrants might follow. Supporters of the National Front rushed to Gatwick to chant: ‘Don’t unpack, you must go back.’ In local elections on 6 May (the same day ...

A Martian goes to College

David Lodge, 6 December 1984

... with scribble. The sport is hugely popular; hundreds jostle for admission to the gyms, And must be coaxed out when their time is up. A few, though, Seem unable to play, and sit staring out of windows, eating their ...

Two Poems

David Craig, 25 September 2008

... would do better, A tiny refined-alloy sleeve Inserted deep in the pulsing darkness. It might be still better if they invented In some far century to come An entire person of titanium. Watching the Angiogram A creature struggles under ice, Black spider twitching, bunching Its spiny legs while shoals of its young Come clustering round it, spawned From its ...

Savage Rush

David Trotter: The Tube, 21 October 2010

Underground Writing: The London Tube from George Gissing to Virginia Woolf 
byDavid Welsh.
Liverpool, 306 pp., £70, May 2010, 978 1 84631 223 6
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... a hint of pleasurable speculation in her glance, too, an assessment, perhaps, of what he might yet be encouraged to amount to. And that’s it. She departs from the film as abruptly as she entered, taking with her pretty much all that’s rich and strange about it. To a greater extent than any other form of mass transit, underground railways create an ...


David Craig, 22 January 1998

... The condition (cancer) and the person (myself) Reeled towards each other over the years, Capsules slowly converging. Now they have docked – ‘Raped!’ the Soviet spacemen used to shout As the new arrival fitted in.                                               The surgeon Is using homely words: ‘We will take away Everything except the nerves and muscles’ (That’s sound, just what I would have done myself ...

Two Poems

David Harsent, 22 June 2006

... Feverish After Yannis Ritsos Small squares on the move, merging, pulling apart, building bricks unbuilding, a city of windows inside a city of windows, everything hanging on two right-angles, free-standing, out of whack but somehow holding, somehow safe you decide at the very moment they crack and start to collapse (in utter silence) all of a heap where three fleabitten dogs set off at an easy lope going first through one small square then another, and etcetera, the scent of the alien dead ripe in their nostrils ...

Abandoned Christmas Tree Plantation

David Morley, 12 February 2009

... a bullfinch song for a goldfinch chime. We speak through the wind and only then in murmurs. By dusk we are whispers and secret playtime rhymes. We stretch our limbs into the wind and catch at birds. Our tree rings are school bells that peal in December bartering a bullfinch song for a goldfinch chime. By dusk we are ...

‘A Pint of Milk’

David Wheatley, 19 May 2005

... leaving behind     only yourself and     the door unlocked venture down     the avenue for the messages     becoming the street as you go          and keeping an eye out for a hole in your shoe     the dog’s first worda bundle of rye     tomorrow’s papera pub with no beer     a hole in the sky they ...

Jewish Liberation

David Katz, 6 October 1983

The Jewish Community in British Politics 
byGeoffrey Alderman.
Oxford, 218 pp., £17.50, March 1983, 9780198274360
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Economic History of the Jews in England 
byHarold Pollins.
Associated University Presses, 339 pp., £20, March 1983, 0 8386 3033 2
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... features of Jewish life are often stowed below as so much embarrassing luggage which ought not to be seen outside the family circle, and replaced with a roll-call of Jewish heroes in the arts and sciences. The undeniable fact that a people of whom there are no more than 15 million throughout the world should have had an influence in nearly all fields of human ...

Why Goldwyn Wore Jodhpurs

David Thomson, 22 June 2000

The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper 
byDominick Dunne.
Crown, 218 pp., £17.99, October 1999, 0 609 60388 4
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Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers 
byMaria Cooper Janis.
Abrams, 176 pp., £22, November 1999, 0 8109 4130 9
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... Dunne knew he was washed up. For most of his life he had been trying to get into Hollywood by acting as more than he was. Or without pausing to ask what he was. As a stage manager for NBC TV he’d been picked to work on their 1952 production of The Petrified Forest – with Humphrey Bogart repeating his classic 1936 role, Henry Fonda doing Leslie ...

From ‘At the Window’

David Harsent, 23 September 2021

... How this pale dawn light floods in from the skyline.How it seems almost at times to fail as if it mightfall back to midnight’s deep blue-black: as if it should.I am given over to dreams that say what’s mine is mine.I dreamt I was at this window and here I am:not dreaming, or so I think, though something stays.Dream has its flow, pain its own song to sing ...

Words washed clean

David Trotter, 5 December 1991

From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature 
byRichard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury.
Routledge, 381 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 415 01341 0
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... When Wyndham Lewis described the Men of 1914 as a ‘youth racket’ invented by Ezra Pound, he presumably didn’t mean to be complimentary. Pound, however, might be said to have had the last laugh, since it is now customary to regard the whole of American literature as a gigantic youth racket ...

Devils Everywhere

David Wootton: The Terrors of the Night, 9 March 2006

At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime 
byRoger Ekirch.
Weidenfeld, 447 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 297 82992 0
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Saving the Daylight: Why We Put the Clocks Forward 
byDavid Prerau.
Granta, 256 pp., £14.99, October 2005, 1 86207 796 7
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... returning to it in pitch darkness: stumbling along the towpath, trying to fit a key into a lock by touch, feeling my way from one end of the boat to the other to reach the main battery switch. Because I have dogs, one of which has to be kept on a lead because he would catch sleeping waterfowl if he could, I have to ...

Stalking Out

David Edgar: After John Osborne, 20 July 2006

John Osborne: A Patriot for Us 
byJohn Heilpern.
Chatto, 528 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 7011 6780 7
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... is held to have had a devastating and irreversible impact on a postwar theatre scene dominated by winsome drawing-room comedies and witless country-house whodunnits. At the time, the play and its message were anatomised in leading articles, discussed by school debating societies, and worried at in the pulpit. In ...

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