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May I come to your house to philosophise?

John Barrell: Godwin’s Letters, 8 September 2011

The Letters of William Godwin Vol. I: 1778-97 
by Pamela Clemit.
Oxford, 306 pp., £100, February 2011, 978 0 19 956261 9
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... during the darkest period of his mourning. The volume includes letters to Joseph Priestley, Thomas Lawrence, John Thelwall, Samuel Parr (‘the Whig Dr Johnson’), the great liberal advocate Thomas Erskine, R.B. Sheridan, Charles James Fox, the novelists and dramatists Elizabeth ...

At the National Gallery

Naomi Grant: Gainsborough’s ‘Blue Boy’, 12 May 2022

... In the early​ 1860s, Edgar Degas made a copy of Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of Louisa Georgina Augusta Anne Murray. The original, now in Kenwood House, is thought to have been completed between 1824 and 1826 and shows the four-year-old goddaughter of the Duke of Wellington prancing before her audience like a 19th-century Shirley Temple ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: Gainsborough, 28 November 2002

... representational skill and – in England at least – the most marketable. It was a gift which Thomas Gainsborough showed early; in one account, so impressing a friend of his mother’s when he was still a boy that his father was persuaded he should go to London for instruction. But this talent wasn’t necessarily combined with other painterly ...

Green Martyrs

Patricia Craig, 24 July 1986

The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse 
edited by Thomas Kinsella.
Oxford, 423 pp., £12.50, May 1986, 0 19 211868 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry 
edited by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 415 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 571 13760 1
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Irish Poetry after Joyce 
by Dillon Johnston.
Dolmen, 336 pp., £20, September 1986, 0 85105 437 4
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... a strong line over questions of definition and evaluation; and each contains much to applaud. Thomas Kinsella’s New Oxford Book goes right back to the beginning, to a rath in front of an oak wood singled out for comment by some anonymous poet of the sixth century, and cherished as a survival from an even more distant past, while the Faber book takes as ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: Aubrey Beardsley, 24 September 2020

... scenes from tumbling into Hieronymus Bosch-like orgies, or erupting into the bawdy romps of Thomas Rowlandson. His theory of line, Beardsley claimed, was his only original idea. Instead of ‘thin lines to express backgrounds and thick lines to express foregrounds’, he kept ‘the same value of line’ in both. The resulting flattened monochrome ...

Fuss, Fatigue and Rage

Ian Gilmour: Two Duff Kings, 15 July 1999

George IV 
by E.A. Smith.
Yale, 306 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 300 07685 1
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... by the crowd, but if George was seen apart from his fellow monarchs, nothing could equal, reported Thomas Creevey, ‘the execrations of the people’, adding that George was ‘worn out with fuss, fatigue and rage’. His rage was doubtless inflamed by Caroline receiving the applause denied to him. ‘She ... carries everything before her,’ wrote ...

Golden Dolly

John Pemble: Rich Britons, 24 September 2009

Who Were the Rich? A Biographical Directory of British Wealth-Holders. Vol. I: 1809-39 
by William Rubinstein.
Social Affairs Unit, 516 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 1 904863 39 7
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... the golden dolly league in Regency London was the Coutts squad: the widow and three daughters of Thomas Coutts the banker. All were flush with cash from his gigantic fortune (probably well over a million) and all married aristocrats. The widow, 45 at her husband’s death, was perhaps no longer a dolly; but no dolly came more golden. She’d inherited most ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell, 1 April 2004

... various kinds including the gifted amateur Sir George Beaumont, Francis Chantry, John Constable, Thomas Lawrence, James Northcote and John Soane; and from the theatre, Jack Bannister, George Colman the younger, various Kembles, the long-deified Mrs Siddons and very many more. There were peers of the realm, baronets, famous churchmen, a duchess. One hundred ...

Hopeless Warriors

Michael Gorra: Sherman Alexie’s novels, 5 March 1998

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven 
by Sherman Alexie.
Vintage, 223 pp., £6.99, September 1997, 9780749386696
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Reservation Blues 
by Sherman Alexie.
Minerva, 306 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 0 7493 9513 3
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Indian Killer 
by Sherman Alexie.
Secker, 420 pp., £9.99, September 1997, 0 436 20433 9
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... whose name suggests his role as ‘the most accomplished drunk’ in the entire Spokane nation; Thomas Builds-the-Fire, a teetotaler and the tribal storyteller, but a young man to whom nobody much wants to listen; and Victor Joseph, who doesn’t want to call a Spokane rock band ‘Coyote Spring’ because it sounds ‘too damn Indian’. Of these Victor ...

Among the Graves

Thomas Laqueur: Naming the Dead, 18 December 2008

The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction 
by Mark Neely.
Harvard, 277 pp., £20.95, November 2007, 978 0 674 02658 2
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This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War 
by Drew Gilpin Faust.
Knopf, 346 pp., $27.95, January 2008, 978 0 375 40404 7
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... that puts them beyond query. The man who did much of the pioneering work for the Civil War – Thomas Livermore – was himself a veteran of the war who went on to a career in law and business. He was not a professional historian or demographer. And his interest in the historical record was very different from ours: his aim was to show that the soldiers of ...

Spaced

Michael Neve, 3 September 1981

The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas de Quincey 
by Grevel Lindop.
Dent, 433 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 460 04358 7
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... Hogg, the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’, in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1823, soon after the appearance of Thomas de Quincey’s celebrated Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Hogg delivers what might be called the Scottish verdict on this awesome substance, a substance full of Eastern promise, but also one which, having been invited to the banquet of the ...

Hypnotise Her

Thomas Jones: Axel Munthe’s exaggerations, 29 January 2009

Axel Munthe: The Road to San Michele 
by Bengt Jangfeldt, translated by Harry Watson.
Tauris, 381 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 1 84511 720 7
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... also ended up in his dish. Since then he has had no use for me nor I for him. Wilfred Sheridan, the husband of the sculptor Clare Frewen, said that Munthe ‘is a bully and has no respect for women, a fault which he is never tired of exhibiting’. It’s certainly on display in The Story of San Michele, and Jangfeldt occasionally seems to fall ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... familiar translations by Douglas Hyde, Frank O’Connor, Cecile O’Rahilly, Standish O’Grady, Thomas Kinsella and others, as well as the contributing editors. The advantage here is that readers taken with these excerpts should be able to obtain fuller texts through libraries. There is a real problem, however, with 20th-century writing in Irish. The prose ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... wrote women’s pictures for Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Rosalind Russell and Ann Sheridan, and her script helped Crawford win the Oscar for Mildred Pierce (1945). She comes to the Library every day, which makes her, at 92, its oldest regular reader – and she’s better-looking than Stuart. Last week at lunch, much of the Oscar talk focused ...

A Talented Past

Linda Colley, 23 April 1987

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. I: Survey 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 400 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. II: Constituencies 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 704 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. III: Members A-F 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 852 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. IV: Members G-P 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 908 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. V: Members P-Z 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 680 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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... of the calibre of Edmund Burke, Charles James Fox, Henry Grattan, David Ricardo, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and William Wilberforce. ‘What a mercy to have been born an Englishman, in the 18th century,’ mused the latter, and if one had the right class and gender and a taste for rhetoric, flair and professionalism in government, that was probably true. Yet ...

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