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As God Intended

Rosemary Hill: Capability Brown, 5 January 2012

The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-83 
by Jane Brown.
Chatto, 384 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8212 0
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... for the W Front?’ These were the questions he intended to put to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, then at the peak of his career as the most famous and sought after landscape designer of the day, who had been booked to make an inspection of Burton Constable and give his opinion of its ‘capabilities’ for improvement. Constable’s notes are a ...


Gabriele Annan, 7 June 1984

Milady Vine: The Autobiography of Philippe de Rothschild 
edited by Joan Littlewood.
Cape, 247 pp., £10.95, June 1984, 0 224 02208 3
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I meant to marry him: A Personal Memoir 
by Jean MacGibbon.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 575 03412 2
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... yachtsman, avant-garde theatre and film producer, poet, translator of Elizabethan verse and Christopher Fry, and the inventor of the windscreen-wiper, starlight electric bulbs and château bottling, not to speak of his being a Rothschild. He owns Château Mouton Rothschild, which he raised to the rank of a premier cru by means of hard work and a ...


Christopher Nicholson: Rare Birds, 22 November 2018

... other and perhaps give the impression of cream, or pale sand. Its beak is black, its claws are brown; it has black wingtips and a dark streak leading from the back of each eye. Its legs are often described by observers as ‘milky-white’. In the early 19th century there was some experimenting with different names, among them the cream-coloured plover and ...

Mr Down-by-the-Levee

Thomas Jones: Updike’s Terrorist, 7 September 2006

by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 310 pp., £17.99, August 2006, 0 241 14351 9
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... Jack Levy and Ahmad’s Irish-American mother. It is no accident, perhaps, that neither of them is brown.’ Christopher Hitchens in the Atlantic hated the novel for a great many reasons, but prominent among them is the outrageousness of Ahmad’s being ‘the nicest person in the book’. The vitriol was inevitable, given ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories, 26 April 2007

... of the landscape and positioned the Conservatives to exploit it in the coming fight with Gordon Brown, New Labour’s heir in waiting. ‘Imagine a Tory leader promising that when his government came in there would be no special favours for those who contribute to Conservative Party funds; for employers, businessmen and the City; for big landowners, rich ...


Christopher Ricks, 2 December 1982

T.S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage 
edited by Michael Grant.
Routledge, 408 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 7100 9226 1
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... a footnote; Latin ones are not. Nine lines from ‘another great poet’ (quoted by someone called Brown and Browne) stand without attribution or reference. Cross-reference within Eliot’s work, which is one way in which an editor could be truly helpful (especially as to the uncollected or stray prose), is disdained: so that Allen Tate’s remark that ...

Great American Disaster

Christopher Reid, 8 December 1988

To Urania: Selected Poems 1965-1985 
by Joseph Brodsky.
Penguin, 174 pp., £4.99, September 1988, 9780140585803
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... as when he mishandles the future tense in the last line of the same poem. ‘Yet until brown clay has been crammed down my larynx,’ he declares, ‘only gratitude will be gushing from it.’ Although a case could be made for this usage, as emphasising continuity, similar instances in relation to the present tense – Either cartwheels are ...


Christopher Hitchens: Men (and Women) of the Year, 14 December 1995

... and journalism – into auxiliary volunteer militias. Between them, Harry Evans and Tina Brown raised whole regiments of foot, horse and guns; flooding the bookstores and news-stands with the reassuring visage of the hero of Panama and Vietnam. Not to say an unfeeling thing, but if there were already any symptoms of palsy in the national ...

The Trouble with HRH

Christopher Hitchens, 5 June 1997

Princess Margaret: A Biography 
by Theo Aronson.
O’Mara, 336 pp., £16.99, February 1997, 1 85479 248 2
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... on having Barry Manilow as her guest of choice, she flew into a rage when then Governor Jerry Brown called her ‘Your Highness’ instead of ‘Your Royal Highness’. (It’s a long time, it seems to me, since monarchists were wont to boast of the credit that the Royals brought upon us overseas.) Had she been the elder sister, or even brother, she would ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... resentment rather than with real rage or outrage, one recalls the blustering world of George Brown, Ray Gunter and Robert Mellish – those Labour dinosaurs who used to invoke the common man but who, while envying the Tories their vowels and their ease of manner, would turn into RSMs when confronted with party dissidents like Bertrand Russell or even ...

Flowers in His Trousers

Christopher Benfey: Central Park’s Architect, 6 October 2016

Frederick Law Olmsted: Writings on Landscape, Culture and Society 
edited by Charles E. Beveridge.
Library of America, 802 pp., £30, November 2015, 978 1 59853 452 8
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... which serves as the cover illustration for the Library of America volume. It depicts Olmsted, in a brown coat, ambling through the Biltmore woods with a long cane. Flowers appear to bloom from his grubby trousers, and his flourishing beard, like that of Pan himself, seems an outgrowth of the moss on the nearby trees. In 1898, paranoid and increasingly ...

In an English market

Tom Paulin, 3 March 1983

Nothing Sacred: Selected Writings 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 181 pp., £3.50, October 1982, 0 86068 269 2
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... fantasy is current at the moment. In ‘A Whole School of Bourgeois Primitives’, for example, Christopher Reid designs another version of England caught in a moment of buzzy stasis: Our lawn in stripes, the cat’s pyjamas, rain on a sultry afternoon and the drenching, mnemonic smell this brings us surging out of the heart of the garden: these are ...

Back to back

Peter Campbell, 4 December 1980

Edwin Lutyens 
by Mary Lutyens.
Murray, 294 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 7195 3777 0
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... Morison’s black suits and Corbusier’s bow tie), Lutyens wore, as his daughter remembers, brown suits, brown shoes, duck-egg green shirts with high starched butterfly collars and a narrow black tie. His drawing-rooms had black walls (semi-gloss), white ceilings and woodwork, green painted floors and yellow ...

The Irresistible Itch

Colin Kidd: Vandals in Bow Ties, 3 December 2009

Personal Responsibility: Why It Matters 
by Alexander Brown.
Continuum, 214 pp., £12.99, September 2009, 978 1 84706 399 1
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... possesses the greatest allure for social conservatives. However, as the philosopher Alexander Brown shows in Personal Responsibility, the subject is more slippery than politicians imagine. How should society determine whether someone’s circumstances mean that they are deserving of its support rather than its condemnation? The philosophical ...

Forget the Dylai Lama

Thomas Jones: Bob Dylan, 6 November 2003

Dylan's Visions of Sin 
by Christopher Ricks.
Viking, 517 pp., £25, October 2003, 9780670801336
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... forms of criticism. Among the most deep and distinguished of this last kind of interpreter is Christopher Ricks, whose previous books include Milton’s Grand Style, Keats and Embarrassment, T.S. Eliot and Prejudice and Beckett’s Dying Words. Dylan’s Visions of Sin is the culmination of at least three decades’ critical engagement with the songs of ...

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