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Burying Scott

Marilyn Butler, 7 September 1995

The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Blackwell, 386 pp., £19.99, January 1995, 1 55786 231 1
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... whom a title might be hoped for in return. Leading examples of Scott’s oiling of royalty are his James V of Scotland in The Lady of the Lake (1809), Queen Caroline, consort of George II, as a healing principle of Mercy in The Heart of Midlothian (1818), and Queen Elizabeth I, epitome of successful English monarchs, in Kenilworth (1821). Sutherland is ...

The money’s still out there

Neal Ascherson: The Scottish Empire, 6 October 2011

To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750-2010 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £25, August 2011, 978 0 7139 9744 6
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The Inner Life of Empires: An 18th-Century History 
by Emma Rothschild.
Princeton, 483 pp., £24.95, June 2011, 978 0 691 14895 3
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... Jacobite, married another one, was imprisoned after Culloden, escaped to France and died in exile. James (‘poor unlucky Jamie’) was huge and clumsy, jilted an heiress, married a penniless English widow and eventually became a Dumfriesshire MP. Alexander began as a soldier and bought a slave plantation in Grenada. Betty never married but stayed at home ...
From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency: Historical Perspectives on People with Learning Disabilities 
edited by David Wright and Anne Digby.
Routledge, 238 pp., £45, October 1996, 9780415112154
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... managed? A fine start in this historical quest was made for North America a few years back with James Trent’s Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Mental Retardation in the United States. Historians in this country, too, have been snorkelling in the archives, and the first fruits of their hunt are now presented in From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency, a ...

Bard of Tropes

Jonathan Lamb: Thomas Chatterton, 20 September 2001

Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture 
by Nick Groom.
Palgrave, 300 pp., £55, September 1999, 0 333 72586 7
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... Horace Walpole, author of the earliest Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, and publishers such as James Dodsley, who had done a great deal to popularise antiquarian poetry. At the same time, Chatterton was innocently eager for their applause. In this collection of essays he has a chameleon presence. He is seen by Claude Rawson as a fluent parodist in the ...

That Disturbing Devil

Ferdinand Mount: Land Ownership, 8 May 2014

Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership 
by Andro Linklater.
Bloomsbury, 482 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 4088 1574 8
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... over the new landscape and trying to make sense of this ‘possessive individualism’, as C.B. Macpherson was to dub it three centuries later. In the argument between Macpherson and Milton Friedman, both sides recognised, as Marx had, its explosive power. They differed as to whether its social effects were malign or ...

Unpranked Lyre

John Mullan: The Laziness of Thomas Gray, 13 December 2001

Thomas Gray: A Life 
by Robert Mack.
Yale, 718 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 300 08499 4
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... became a guide and friend to many enlightened, doubtful readers. It was because of the Elegy that James Boswell would, at difficult times, enjoin himself in his journal to ‘Be Gray.’ In literary history Gray is more often an object of curiosity than of admiration. He is known for having not just one of his poems but his poetic language held up to the ...

The Power of Sunshine

Alexander Cockburn, 10 January 1991

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 462 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 86091 303 1
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... was in essence a heavy-breathing version of the noir fix on Los Angeles which began in 1934 with James M. Cain’s The postman always rings twice, surging through Chandler, Faulkner, film noir, the extraordinary novels of Chester Himes and on towards Rechy, Didion and Bret Easton Ellis. Davis acutely points out that noir – dystopian revulsion at the ...

Blame Robert Maxwell

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: How Public Inquiries Go Wrong, 17 March 2016

... the Royal Navy was riddled with popery and that the Duke of York (Lord High Admiral and the future James II) had wasted public funds. A select committee was appointed to investigate. When his enemies won the general election in March, the duke fled. In his absence, Samuel Pepys, as secretary of the navy, was left to face the music. Pepys was found guilty of ...

Daisy Chains

Emma Hogan: Sappho 1900, 20 May 2021

No Modernism without Lesbians 
by Diana Souhami.
Head of Zeus, 464 pp., £9.99, February, 978 1 78669 487 4
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... Co opened in 1919. In the window were editions of Shakespeare (of course), Chaucer, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce and copies of Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (Monnier’s favourite English-language book). On the walls were photographs of Oscar Wilde, drawings by William Blake and examples of Walt Whitman’s early writings. Émigré writers and French ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... of the judiciary. On the occasion of his retirement as Recorder of London in July 1990, Sir James Miskin gave a television interview to the BBC. ‘That was a mad decision, was it not?’ he said of the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the Guildford case. ‘They didn’t give any thought to the fact that three years after it had happened there was a ...

Uneasy Listening

Paul Laity: ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, 8 July 2004

Germany Calling: A Personal Biography of William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ 
by Mary Kenny.
New Island, 300 pp., £17.99, November 2003, 1 902602 78 1
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Lord Haw-Haw: The English Voice of Nazi Germany 
by Peter Martland.
National Archives, 309 pp., £19.99, March 2003, 1 903365 17 1
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... eager for news, had to make do with the occasional bland announcement and endless hours of Sandy Macpherson playing the BBC theatre organ. The only alternative was to tune in to one of the many English-speaking overseas stations: Moscow radio had a Cockney newsreader; the service in Chungking ended its transmission with ‘The British Grenadiers’ played on ...

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