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Good as boys

Penelope Fitzgerald, 15 August 1991

The Best Type of Girl: A History of the Girls’ Independent Schools 
by Gillian Avery.
Deutsch, 410 pp., £20, January 1991, 0 233 98642 1
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There’s something about a convent girl 
edited by Jackie Bennett and Rosemary Forgan.
Virago, 217 pp., £4.99, January 1991, 1 85381 308 7
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... of poor clergy, as governesses. (Something is said, though, in defence of the Reverend Carus Wilson, decimator of the Brontës, and his Cowan Bridge School.) The High Schools, with the honourable exception of Manchester, lagged behind at first, but by the 1870s and 1890s, although there were still very few women on their governing bodies, they had ...

Tricked Out as a Virgin

Bee Wilson: Respectable Enough, 4 November 2021

The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice 
by Julia Laite.
Profile, 410 pp., £16.99, April, 978 1 78816 442 9
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... Slaver, The Girl That Disappears and War on the White Slave Trade. The plot varied little: as J.P. Wilson wrote in The White Slave Traffic in 1912, ‘her slavery lasts some five or six years as a rule, and then she is flung out upon the streets, her character gone, her hope dead, her body diseased, to die before long either in a workhouse or a Lock ...

Punk Counterpunk

Bee Wilson, 20 November 2014

Vivienne Westwood 
by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly.
Picador, 463 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 1 4472 5412 6
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... shop Agent Provocateur), was given the surname Corré in honour of Rose. McLaren’s mother, Emily, was a prostitute. Westwood says that the ‘root of all his troubles’ was that he ‘never knew real maternal love as a child’. He displayed a pathological desire to dazzle and insult the world with his brilliance and to disparage the abilities of ...

How Do You Pay?

Bee Wilson: Falling for Michael Moore, 1 November 2007

Citizen Moore: An American Maverick 
by Roger Rapoport.
Methuen, 361 pp., £8.99, July 2007, 978 0 413 77649 5
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Manufacturing Dissent 
directed by Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk.
October 2007
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Sicko 
directed by Michael Moore.
October 2007
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... the evils of General Motors could be ‘billed as the feel-good film of the holiday season’, as Emily Schultz wrote in her 2005 biography of Moore. Roger and Me opened on 22 December 1989, a traditional release date for crowd-pleasing blockbusters. Other movies released that month included National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Driving Miss Daisy and The ...

Special Frocks

Jenny Turner: Justine Picardie, 5 January 2006

My Mother’s Wedding Dress: The Fabric of Our Lives 
by Justine Picardie.
Picador, 336 pp., £12.99, September 2005, 0 330 41306 6
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... Society, early in her career. ‘There is something eerie about a museum of costume,’ Elizabeth Wilson wrote in Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity (1985), a study much influenced by Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger. ‘For clothes are so much part of our living, moving selves that, frozen on display in the mausoleums of culture, they hint at ...

Crusoe and Daughter

Patricia Craig, 20 June 1985

Crusoe’s Daughter 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11526 4
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The Tie that Binds 
by Kent Haruf.
Joseph, 246 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 7181 2561 4
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Hannie Richards, or The Intrepid Adventures of a Restless Wife 
by Hilary Bailey.
Virago, 265 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 9780860683469
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A Fine Excess 
by Jane Ellison.
Secker, 183 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 436 14601 0
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Victory over Japan 
by Ellen Gilchrist.
Faber, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 571 13446 7
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... 16 – it’s ostensibly a children’s book) who feels an affinity between herself and Emily Brontë, to the point of thinking deeply about reincarnation. Wuthering Heights has left its mark indirectly on this novel. Crusoe’s Daughter, with its heroine Polly Flint metaphorically cast away, and not cast down by it, is rather more open about its ...

Not bothered

E.S. Turner, 29 August 1991

The Bachelor Duke: William Spencer Cavendish, Sixth Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 234 pp., £19.95, March 1991, 0 7195 4920 5
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... the marrying kind’. He kept a mistress for many years. He even visited the deplorable Harriette Wilson and was roughly treated in her memoirs. At Chatsworth as a young man he had a brief ‘romantic friendship’ with the Grand Duke Nicholas, later Emperor of All the Russias, with whom he larked about, sang songs and engaged in what Lees-Milne calls ...

Trevelogue

E.S. Turner, 25 June 1987

The Golden Oriole: Childhood, Family and Friends in India 
by Raleigh Trevelyan.
Secker, 536 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 436 53403 7
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... delectable quotations. It draws not only on family documents, but on the writings of Macaulay, Emily Eden, Lady Canning, Bishop Heber, Kipling, Diana Cooper and Forster; and it comments, sometimes with disfavour, on films like Gandhi, The Far Pavilions and The Jewel in the Crown. If a book on this scale had been written by an American it would have carried ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... rebel against American Puritanism, accused of believing in free love), Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickinson and the suffragette leader, Carrie Chapman Catt. Feminist supporter of minority rights, Eleanor Roosevelt is our contemporary. That is what worries Alan Brinkley. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Eleanor Roosevelt is the representative of social movements ...

Making history

Malise Ruthven, 19 June 1986

Gertrude Bell 
by Susan Goodman.
Berg, 122 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 907582 86 9
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Freya Stark 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Viking, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1985, 0 670 80675 7
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... of the Sherif of Mecca. Backed to the hilt by Cox, she won her battles with the formidable A.T. Wilson, who wanted tighter British control. She was thus instrumental not only in establishing King Feisal’s Iraq, but indirectly Saddam Hussein’s, a state with a predominantly secular outlook ruled by the Sunni Arab minority, now fighting for its life ...

Living Doll and Lilac Fairy

Penelope Fitzgerald, 31 August 1989

Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... more than her mother. She studied at the Slade under the all-powerful trinity of Frederick Brown, Wilson Steer and Tonks. It was 1910, and the students were advised not to attend Roger Fry’s Post-Expressionist exhibition. By 1914 Carrington, a mild bohemian, had cut her hair short, Mark Gertler and C.W. Nevinson were in love with her, and the world outside ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars, 14 December 2000

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... United States in the year following its publication – even such serious-minded critics as Edmund Wilson and the young Lionel Trilling regularly disparaged her as spinsterish, middlebrow and reactionary: a kind of tiresome maiden aunt in the back parlour of American letters. True, Cather had her defenders – but as Acocella grimly notes, they were prone to ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... mixture of the homely and exotic. She has acquired the honorary but eccentric status of an Emily Dickinson, telling it slant. This oblique trance is my natural Way of speaking, she claims, and this is indeed how her poetic personality comes across: dreamy, meditative, in the world but not quite of it. Selima Hill has some of the same ambivalence ...

Tennyson’s Nerves

Frank Kermode, 6 November 1980

Tennyson: The Unqulet Heart 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
Oxford/Faber, 656 pp., £12.95, October 1980, 0 19 812072 9
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Thro’ the Vision of the Night: A Study of Source, Evolution and Structure in Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’ 
by J.M. Gray.
Edinburgh, 179 pp., £10, August 1980, 0 85224 382 0
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... Matilda was never quite right after a fall into a coal-scuttle as a child, and would embarrass Emily (who had been engaged to Arthur Hallam) by raising her umbrella in church to keep off the draught. Since the crowded rectory had plenty of books as well as many peculiar persons, it provided an atmosphere conducive to poetry. But no less helpful were the ...

Regular Terrors

Alison Light: Window-Smashing Suffragettes, 25 January 2007

Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote 
by Jill Liddington.
Virago, 402 pp., £14.99, May 2006, 1 84408 168 0
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... of the proceedings or the jurisdiction of the judges. Prison radicalised many still further. Laura Wilson, a worsted-coating weaver from Halifax told a reporter: ‘I went to jail a rebel, but I have come out a regular terror.’ Despite the ground it shared with other suffrage organisations, and despite its male supporters, the WSPU was unique as a separatist ...

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