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Picture in Little

Charles Nicholl: Hilliard’s Trajectory, 19 December 2019

Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist 
by Elizabeth Goldring.
Yale, 337 pp., £40, February 2019, 978 0 300 24142 6
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... hair is express’d’. Later in the century, Horace Walpole pored over a miniature by Isaac Oliver – Hilliard’s brilliant French-born pupil – and found that ‘the largest magnifying glass only calls out new beauties.’The​ 400th anniversary of Hilliard’s death this year has been marked by the publication of Elizabeth Goldring’s impeccably ...

How to Survive Your Own Stupidity

Andrew O’Hagan: Homage to Laurel and Hardy, 22 August 2002

Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy 
by Simon Louvish.
Faber, 518 pp., £8.99, September 2002, 0 571 21590 4
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... of people that filled Central Station: It was then that, owing to the pressure of numbers, the stone balustrade skirting the wall of the hotel collapsed onto the pavement. The falling masonry bowled over several onlookers but, luckily, formed in a heap which then prevented others from falling into the basement below . . . The incident created a wild ...

Adulterers’ Distress

Philip Horne, 21 July 1983

A Nail on the Head 
by Clare Boylan.
Hamish Hamilton, 135 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 241 11001 7
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New Stories 8: An Arts Council Anthology 
edited by Karl Miller.
Hutchinson, 227 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 9780091523800
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The Handyman 
by Penelope Mortimer.
Allen Lane, 199 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1364 9
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Open the Door 
by Rosemary Manning.
Cape, 180 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 224 02112 5
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A Boy’s Own Story 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 218 pp., £2.50, July 1983, 0 330 28151 8
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... analogies of subject that focus in several instances considerable differences of treatment. Oliver Sacks’s stirring ‘The Leg’, a true story of paralysis which deals in eloquently measured prose with, the author’s loss of the sense of his left leg, and which itself teaches by precise and humane example the ‘conjunction of science and ...

Torday’s Scorpion

Basil Davidson, 9 April 1992

The African Experience 
by Roland Oliver.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £19.99, August 1991, 0 297 82022 2
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A Thousand Years of East Africa 
by John Sutton.
British Institute in Eastern Africa, 111 pp., £8, November 1990, 1 872566 00 6
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When the grass is gone 
edited by P.W.T. Baxter.
Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, 215 pp., December 1991, 91 7106 318 8
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The Scramble for Africa 
by Thomas Pakenham.
Weidenfeld, 738 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 297 81130 4
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... she has indeed done that. The same or corresponding dating methods have been usefully applied to Stone Age sites sometimes very distant in time. But it has been the fixing of a broadly reliable Iron Age chronology across two millennia at its broadest spread that has had the greatest effect in revising or destroying old convictions of the ‘no ...

Philip’s People

Anna Della Subin, 8 May 2014

... Chief Naiva warned Baylis, the beliefs and stories of the Philip cult are like ripples made by a stone cast into water: always moving and impossible to pin down. But the timing is revealing: the stone (or was it a yacht?) was cast on the eve of Vanuatu’s independence. When Philip vacationed offshore with the queen in ...

Past v. Present

Phil Withington: Blair Worden’s Civil War, 10 May 2012

God’s Instruments: Political Conduct in the England of Oliver Cromwell 
by Blair Worden.
Oxford, 421 pp., £35, March 2012, 978 0 19 957049 2
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... of their respective authors: R.H. Tawney and Christopher Hill on the political left, Lawrence Stone in the Whig centre, and Hugh Trevor-Roper on the right. They were comfortable corroborating their own political predilection with sophisticated historical exposition and, it seems, happy for their opponents to do the same. All agreed on the significance of ...

You are a milksop

Ferdinand Mount, 7 May 2020

Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate 
by Paul Lay.
Head of Zeus, 352 pp., £30, January 2020, 978 1 78185 256 9
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... that Cromwell once called it ‘the Petition of Shite’. I can believe that one, too.When Oliver first elbowed his way into both the Short Parliament (which sat for three weeks in 1640) and the Long, he was turning forty, a plain man in a plain cloth suit with a speck or two of blood on his collarband, ‘his countenance swollen and reddish, his voice ...

Rethinking the countryside

David Allen, 22 January 1987

The History of the Countryside 
by Oliver Rackham.
Dent, 445 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 460 04449 4
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Gilbert White: A Biography of the Author of the ‘Natural History of Selborne’ 
by Richard Mabey.
Century, 239 pp., £14.95, May 1986, 0 7126 1232 7
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The Journals of Gilbert White 1751-1773: Vol. 1 
edited by Francesca Greenoak.
Century, 531 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7126 1294 7
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An Account of the Foxglove and its Medical Uses 1785-1985 
by J.K. Aronson.
Oxford, 399 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 19 261501 7
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The Oxford Dictionary of Natural History 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Oxford, 688 pp., £20, January 1986, 0 19 217720 6
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... to overtake all of these in practical effectiveness, however, is the remarkable figure of Oliver Rackham, a throwback to earlier centuries in his solitary, single-minded endeavours made at the expense of an orthodox – and secure – career. Rackham’s achievement has been the more impressive in that he is a physicist by background and his ...

Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow, 29 November 2007

Woodlands 
by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... Oliver Rackham’s Woodlands is Volume 100 of the New Naturalist series, started by Collins after the Second World War with the aim of making ecology accessible to the increasing numbers of people who visited the countryside and had a serious curiosity about what it contained. It included such early classics as R ...

Seeing yourself dead

Nicolas Tredell, 21 February 1991

Love in a Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 62 pp., £11.99, March 1991, 0 571 16101 4
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Three Variations on the Theme of Harm: Selected Poetry and Prose 
by Douglas Oliver.
Paladin, 255 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 0 586 08962 4
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Spoils of War 
by John Eppel.
Carrefour Press, 48 pp., August 1989, 0 620 13315 5
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Music for Brass 
by Brian Waltham.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1990, 1 871471 20 6
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Lapidary 
by Rosamund Stanhope.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1990, 1 871471 19 2
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... bubble. The man is a harbinger of death, showing how the bloom in its misty bubble is dead as a stone, how the beat of my heart in time with his journey is steadily slower. Other poems recall the mother in a hospital bed, fed with oxygen through a tube in the throat, or with head battered and shaved – a painful, poignant image that also figures in ...

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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... way to cry out, but the Phenomenon [Sydney], shouting “Open the gate!” sent an enormous stone flying into the garden (among our heads) by way of alarming the establishment.’ ‘This,’ Gottlieb remarks of the anecdote with a warmth he sustains throughout his book, ‘was a boy after his father’s heart.’ Gottlieb’s Great Expectations brings ...

Uncle Clarence

Alan Bennett, 5 June 1986

... Flanders in April and it is, not inappropriately, raining, clogging our shoes the famous mud. The stone gives the date of his death, 21 October 1917, but not his age. He was 20. He was always 20 all through my childhood because of the photograph on the piano at my grandmother’s house in Leeds. He was her only son. He sits in his uniform and puttees in Mr ...

Having Fun

Ben Jackson: Online Shaming, 9 April 2015

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed 
by Jon Ronson.
Picador, 277 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 330 49228 7
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... online shaming have grown enormously. In 2012, when a friend of a charity worker called Lindsey Stone posted a photograph of her on Facebook raising her middle finger and pretending to yell at a ‘Silence and Respect’ sign in Arlington National Cemetery, the Twittersphere responded: ‘hope this cunt gets raped and stabbed.’ ‘Fuck You ...

Sexual Nonconformism

Peter Laslett, 24 January 1980

Wanton Wenches and Wayward Wives: Peasants and Illicit Sex in Early 17th Century England 
by G.R. Quaife.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £11.50, July 1980, 0 7099 0062 7
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A History of Myddle 
by Richard Gough, edited by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 184 pp., £9, October 1980, 0 904573 14 1
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... of the mass of the population. No one can read Quaife’s book and still believe that. Lawrence Stone could surely not have written as he did in his Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 if he had had that knowledge of the really telling evidence which Quaife thinks he should have had. The other error which he attacks is the idea that the triumph of ...

Against it

Ross McKibbin, 24 February 1994

For the Sake of Argument 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 353 pp., £19.95, May 1993, 0 86091 435 6
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... Christopher Hitchens may not be ‘the nearest thing to a one-man band since I.F. Stone laid down his pen’, but he comes close. For the Sake of Argument records a life of action, of being in the right place at the right time. Thomas Mann could never find the revolution: Hitchens cannot help tripping over it. This is, no doubt, the privilege of the foreign correspondent, but some are clearly more privileged than others ...

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