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Jolly Jack and the Preacher

Patrick Parrinder, 20 April 1989

A Culture for Democracy: Mass Communication and the Cultivated Mind in Britain between the Wars 
by D.L. LeMahieu.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, June 1988, 0 19 820137 0
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... for public attention, rather than acting as the spokesmen for inherently incompatible values. William Wordsworth, whose essays and prefaces originated much of the rhetoric of high-cultural debate, distinguishes between a taste for poetry – which involves active mental participation by the reader – and one for ‘rope-dancing, or Frontiniac or ...

All Her Nomads

Helen Vendler: Amy Clampitt, 5 February 1998

Collected Poems 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 496 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 571 19349 8
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... and she even wrote, towards the end of her life, a play (Mad with Joy) about the cohabitation of William Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth and Coleridge in Dove Cottage (her sympathies were with Dorothy). She also, more successfully, wrote a sequence on the life of Keats (‘Voyages’) and poems resuming the life of ...

Divided We Grow

John Barrell: When Pitt Panicked, 5 June 2003

The London Corresponding Society 1792-99 
edited by Michael T. Davis.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, June 2002, 1 85196 734 6
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Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty 
by Helen Braithwaite.
Palgrave, 243 pp., £45, December 2002, 0 333 98394 7
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... the reasons they gave for their alarm. It was pretended that the LCS was armed, and comprised, as William Pitt expressed it, a ‘Jacobin army’, but its members taken together seem to have owned fewer weapons than decorated the walls of an average country house. At the treason trials, the law officers claimed that the LCS was leading a plot to depose the ...

Irish Adventurers

Janet Adam Smith, 25 June 1992

The Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 
edited by Elizabeth Mavor.
Weidenfeld, 187 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 297 81223 8
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... Helena Jane and me pack’d in the Family Coach, with Mary Lawless, Mary Smith, Blanchois, and William in another carriage, driving full speed, nine Irish Adventurers, to the French dominions.’ Two at least of these Irish adventurers were as ready as William Wordsworth had been a decade earlier to feel what bliss ...

Like Cooking a Dumpling

Mike Jay: Victorian Science Writing, 20 November 2014

Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age 
by James Secord.
Oxford, 306 pp., £18.99, March 2014, 978 0 19 967526 5
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... the science that came most immediately into conflict with scripture, obliging Lyell’s teacher William Buckland to contain his visions of lost worlds and extinct monsters within the biblical framework of Creation, Fall and Deluge. Lyell, by birth a Tory squire but by conviction a metropolitan Whig, had a solid grasp of conservative anxieties: he abstained ...

Carnivals of Progress

John Ziman, 17 February 1983

Sir William Rowan Hamilton 
by Thomas Hankins.
Johns Hopkins, 474 pp., £19.50, July 1981, 0 8018 2203 3
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Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 
by Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray.
Oxford, 592 pp., £30, August 1981, 0 19 858163 7
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The Parliament of Science: The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1831-1981 
edited by Roy MacLeod and Peter Collins.
Science Reviews, 308 pp., £12.25, September 1982, 0 905927 66 4
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... adoring and talented sisters, and innumerable sympathetic friends, including Maria Edgeworth and William Wordsworth. His scientific star never publicly waned: just before his death, in 1865, he was being honoured as one of the world’s greatest scientists. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica he merits a longer column than either of those two other Sir ...


Nicholas Spice, 22 December 1983

Otto Klemperer: His Life and Times. Vol.I: 1885-1933 
by Peter Heyworth.
Cambridge, 492 pp., £15, October 1983, 0 521 24293 2
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Score and Podium: A Complete Guide to Conducting 
by Frederik Prausnitz.
Norton, 530 pp., £18.50, November 1983, 0 393 95154 5
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The New Oxford Companion to Music 
edited by Denis Arnold.
Oxford, 2017 pp., £37.50, October 1983, 0 19 311316 3
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... irrecoverable, knowing what he was like can sometimes seem irrelevant, if not indeed irreverent. William Wordsworth is reputed to have slit the uncut pages of new and expensive books with a breakfast knife sticky with jam, Immanuel Kant to have controlled his socks with sock suspenders operated from his top pockets: facts which would interest us ...

No More Scissors and Paste

Mary Beard: R.G. Collingwood, 25 March 2010

History Man: The Life of R.G. Collingwood 
by Fred Inglis.
Princeton, 385 pp., £23.95, 0 691 13014 0
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... his father, W.G. Collingwood, was secretary to the elderly Ruskin, where the sons and grandsons of William Wordsworth were still prominent in the local community, and where Arthur Ransome was a frequent visitor to the Collingwood family home. Inglis, in fact, hazards a guess that R.G. was the inspiration for the elder brother, John Walker, in Ransome’s ...

Peter Conrad’s Flight from Precision

Richard Poirier, 17 July 1980

Imagining America 
by Peter Conrad.
Routledge, 319 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7100 0370 6
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... Irresistibility of Fate, the Doom of Nations, and the fact that Death awaits us All, and so forth. Wordsworth Redivivus. Oh dear! oh dear! If anyone can make mistakes, then by the same token anyone, even accidentally, ought to get things right more often than Conrad does. There are so many errors and misinter-pretations tumbling over one another that it ...

The big drops start

John Bayley, 7 December 1989

Coleridge: Early Visions 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 409 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 340 28335 1
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WordsworthRomantic Poetry and Revolution Politics 
by John Williams.
Manchester, 203 pp., £29.95, November 1989, 0 7190 3168 0
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Sara Coleridge, A Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays 
by Bradford Keyes Mudge.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04443 7
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... female figure of worship and consolation. Mary was to have a long and tranquil married life with Wordsworth. Joanna continued to live with her brother Tom. Wordsworth, too, was of the party, and so was his sister Dorothy. But Wordsworth does not really enter the moment. The striking ...

Sweet Sin

J.P. Stern, 5 August 1982

by Wolfgang Hildesheimer.
Suhrkamp, 326 pp., May 1981, 3 518 03205 4
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... Marbot (1803, now at the Tate) and Lady Catherine (1804, Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland); William Turner and Sir David Brewster (inventor of the kaleidoscope) were frequent guests; on his solitary rides in the Lakes he often called on De Quincey (then editor of the Westmorland Gazette), and visited ...


Stefan Collini: C. Day-Lewis, 6 September 2007

C. Day-Lewis: A Life 
by Peter Stanford.
Continuum, 368 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 8264 8603 5
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... but it became clearer in the 1940s that his real poetic masters were Hardy and, more indirectly, Wordsworth. By the 1950s this could have made for recognition of unobvious continuities with the disciplined mundanity of a younger poet such as Larkin rather than with either the metaphysical disjunctions of post-Eliot Modernists or the cascading syllables of ...

Regrets, Vexations, Lassitudes

Seamus Perry: Wordsworth’s Trouble, 18 December 2008

William Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude’: A Casebook 
edited by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, 406 pp., £19.99, September 2006, 0 19 518092 5
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... unexpectedly, in the winter of 1798, in an uncomfortable lodging in Goslar, Lower Saxony, where Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy found themselves marooned for four miserable months. The weather was terrible – it was reputedly the coldest winter of the century – and leaving town was practically impossible: ‘When we left the room where we sit we were ...

Wordsworth’s Lost Satire

Nicholas Roe, 6 July 1995

... Everyone knows that as a young English Jacobin Wordsworth visited France, becoming so intimately entangled in Revolutionary affairs that he might have remained there, eventually to be destroyed in the Terror. Later in life, though, he deliberately suppressed many aspects of his earlier career, in order to represent himself as an elect spirit – the prophet of nature, who had survived triumphantly undisfigured by the turmoil of contemporary history ...

The Animalcule

Nicholas Spice: Little Mr De Quincey, 18 May 2017

Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey 
by Frances Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 397 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 1 4088 3977 5
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... But he was also uncommonly clever, and his ambitions were large. As a young man, he idolised Wordsworth and Coleridge, and then sought them out and tried to make them his friends. For a while they all got on, but then increasingly they didn’t. Wordsworth was in the habit of condescending to De Quincey, but ...

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