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Philip Davis: Thomas Arnold’s Apostasies, 15 April 2004

A Victorian Wanderer: The Life of Thomas Arnold the Younger 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 274 pp., £25, July 2003, 0 19 925741 8
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... it. In the end, Tom Arnold’s lasting contribution lies in what his daughter Mary, Mrs Humphry Ward, made of his marriage in her novels. She placed herself in the rich unclassified ‘middle ground’ between father and mother, and wrote about what was at stake in a mixed marriage. There was a lack of fit not merely between the partners themselves, but ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... Four, but for the closely related cases of the Maguire family, the Birmingham Six, Judith Ward? What did it mean for the system of justice in England? Some years earlier, in a judgment in the Birmingham Six case, Lord Denning, the Master of the Rolls, had summed up the broader significance of such a reversal. If the six men win, it will mean that the ...

Learning to Say ‘Cat’

Edmund Gordon: ‘Lean Fall Stand’, 17 June 2021

Lean Fall Stand 
by Jon McGregor.
Fourth Estate, 288 pp., £14.99, April, 978 0 00 820490 7
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... usually affect personality.’ I first read the book in April 2019, when my father was in a stroke ward in Madrid. The only sounds he could manage were ‘yuh’ (which often meant ‘no’) and a few grunts and warbles. When he tried to write, it came out as squiggles. I wanted to share Hale’s belief that personality could survive in the absence of verbal ...

Countess Bitch

Robert Tombs, 16 November 1995

The Notorious Life of Gyp: Right-Wing Anarchist in Fin-de-Siècle France 
by Willa Silverman.
Oxford, 325 pp., £24, June 1995, 0 19 508754 2
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... women’s rights. She legally separated her property from her husband’s, but this was only to ward off ruin. She made an independent career, but this was an unfortunate necessity. No feminist therefore; rather, a misogynist. This is, for Silverman, the key that unlocks many doors: Gyp’s identity problems, her rejection of her own femininity, her ...

Fish out of water

Robert Dawidoff, 4 February 1988

The Works of George Santayana. Vol. I: Persons and Places 
edited by William Holzberger and Herman Saatkamp.
MIT, 761 pp., £24.95, March 1987, 0 262 19238 1
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George Santayana: A Biography 
by John McCormick.
Knopf, 612 pp., $30, August 1988, 0 394 51037 2
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... This paradox is condensed and rhetorical: to get at the truth in it we must expand it a little and ward off certain misunderstandings. It is not love simply, but only perfect love, that includes despair. Love in itself includes hope, or at least the desire to preserve the object of it, to enshrine and defend it. And in regard to the object even perfect love ...

Browning’s Last Duchess

Virginia Surtees, 9 October 1986

... first time, with the permission of the Hon. Simon Howard. They cover the visit of the 57-year-old Robert Browning to Naworth Castle, the Cumberland home of the George Howards. Browning had recently published his great poem The Ring and the Book, with its dedication to his dead wife. He was mentally tired, and uneasy over his son Pen’s performance at ...

Ladies and Gentlemen

Patricia Beer, 6 May 1982

The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... she already had one in mind. She was 19. She was young enough to bounce and snap at Mrs Humphry Ward. Three months after that first article and now as Rebecca West, she published another one in the Freewoman, the feminist paper financed by Harriet Weaver and edited by Dora Marsden. It is a good thwacking piece, cheerfully serious, in which she accuses Mrs ...

Untold Stories

Alan Bennett, 30 September 1999

... a young man familiar rather than affable, who took us along to what the nurse said was Mam’s ward. He flung open the door on Bedlam, a scene of unimagined wretchedness. What hit you first was the noise. The hospitals I had been in previously were calm and unhurried; voices were hushed; sickness, during visiting hours at least, went hand in hand with ...


Robert Bernard Martin, 4 April 1985

The Collected Letters of William Morris. Vol. I: 1848-1880 
edited by Norman Kelvin.
Princeton, 626 pp., £50.30, April 1984, 0 691 06501 2
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... this size, there are a few unimportant errors, such as the misspelling of the name of Mrs Humphry Ward; a pair of footnotes on page 378 so thoroughly entangled and misleading that nothing but beginning again could straighten them out; and two mentions by Morris of ‘grice’ sent as gifts just after the Glorious Twelfth which surely refer jokingly to grouse ...

On Gertrude Beasley

Elisabeth Ladenson, 21 October 2021

... Most of these are now in libraries in Texas. As early as 1934, Beasley’s original publisher, Robert McAlmon, was complaining that a rare book dealer was asking $40 for a copy of the book, which had been priced at $2.50. (Copies of the Texas Book Club edition occasionally surface, selling at $125 or higher.) The memoir recounts Beasley’s difficult ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... Another drawing was done with a nurse’s blue pencil on the flyleaf of a volume of The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson.‘These drawings were presented to me by a very ill man,’ the catalogue entry read, quoting Edward Adamson, the art therapist who first encountered J.J. Beegan in 1946. By the time they met, Adamson explained, Beegan ‘had been in a ...

I ♥ Cthulhu

Paul Grimstad, 21 September 2017

The Night Ocean 
by Paul La Farge.
Penguin, 389 pp., £19.99, March 2017, 978 1 101 98108 5
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... a diary composed in imitation 18th-century English purportedly detailing Lovecraft’s affair with Robert Barlow, a horror fan, collector and briefly Lovecraft’s literary executor. In fact Lovecraft spent six weeks at the 15-year-old Barlow’s family home in Florida at Barlow’s invitation in 1933. It was an uncharacteristic journey for the reclusive and ...

Bloom’s Bible

Donald Davie, 13 June 1991

The Book of J 
translated by David Rosenberg, interpreted by Harold Bloom.
Faber, 286 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 571 16111 1
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... always foredoomed, because the corrected spin never has equal impetus with the original. Consider Robert Graves’s attempt to revise Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayyam. The AV is peculiar, even so: for no magister can be detected, among King James’s translators. Ward Allen’s researches in Alabama, and Gerald Hammond’s in ...

At the Duveen Galleries

Brian Dillon: ‘The Asset Strippers’, 18 July 2019

... peculiar to their manufacturers: the eau de nil of Wadkin of Leicester; the vivid blue of H.W. Ward & Co., Birmingham. What are, or were, they all for? Some of the force of The Asset Strippers, its summoning of defunct or vanishing British industry, depends on gallery-goers having no clue what such machines actually do. But the exhibition is surprisingly ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones, 4 October 1984

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... pocket, is a detective called Pinkerton. The hulking young bodyguard with two conspicuous guns is Ward Hill Lamon, who proves to be almost as formidable an adherent as Joab was to King David of Israel. There had been a plot to kill Lincoln at Baltimore: that is why the new President has ‘snuck in like some old chicken thief’ – to use the words of one of ...

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