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English Butter

David Trotter, 9 October 1986

Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 
edited by Robert Colls and Philip Dodd.
Croom Helm, 378 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7099 0849 0
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The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Collins, 335 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 00 217604 1
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Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? 
by Richard Symonds.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £29.50, July 1986, 0 333 40206 5
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... which we have imposed on the period, or by starting to explore its differential codings. Hugh Cunningham demonstrates very effectively that the identification of the Conservative Party with patriotism was never as unproblematic and as beneficial as many have assumed. Promoted by a faction, patriotism became associated with particular policies, and ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... is merely salacious innuendo: it is titillating but not informative. The only real plum is Cecil Beaton’s remarkable comment on Lily Elsie’s anaemia – ‘this was no doubt the reason for an unusually early menopause and for a certain frigidity’ – which should be a winner for the Guardian’s ‘Naked Ape’ column. Nor do the revelations on ...

Bad Timing

R.W. Johnson: All about Eden, 22 May 2003

Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon 1897-1977 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Chatto, 758 pp., £25, March 2003, 0 7011 6744 0
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The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years 1950-57 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 676 pp., £25, April 2003, 9780333711675
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... like a Radical-Socialist mayor of a French industrial town. He might be “un bon papa”.’ Of Cecil King (proprietor) and Hugh Cudlipp (editor) of the Daily Mirror: ‘They are as good a pair of ruffians as you could find anywhere.’ Of Averell Harriman: ‘As in England, multi-millionaires have no chance in politics ...

Their Mad Gallopade

Patrick McGuinness: Nancy Cunard, 25 January 2018

Selected Poems 
by Nancy Cunard.
Carcanet, 304 pp., £12.99, October 2016, 978 1 78410 236 4
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... art and high fashion were most closely in step with each other, Cunard – photographed by Cecil Beaton, Man Ray, Curtis Moffat, Cartier-Bresson, John Banting and others – was one of the figures in whom they converged. Gucci’s ‘Hard Deco’ line for Spring 2012 was launched in homage to ‘Louise Brooks and Nancy Cunard’. This edition of her ...

By San Carlos Water

Neal Ascherson, 18 November 1982

Authors take sides on the Falklands 
edited by Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 900821 63 9
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The Falklands War: The Full Story 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Deutsch and Sphere, 276 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 233 97515 2
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The Winter War: The Falklands 
by Patrick Bishop and John Witherow.
Quartet, 153 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 7043 3424 0
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Iron Britannia: Why Parliament waged its Falklands war 
by Anthony Barnett.
Allison and Busby, 160 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 85031 494 1
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Falklands/Malvinas: Whose Crisis? 
by Martin Honeywell.
Latin American Bureau, 135 pp., £1.95, September 1982, 0 906156 15 7
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Los Chicos de la Guerra 
by Daniel Kon.
Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires, August 1982
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A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut RN 
compiled by Hugh Tinker.
Junction, 224 pp., £3.50, November 1982, 0 86245 102 7
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... flight deck, killing 13 men, among them a young Naval lieutenant named David Tinker. His father, Hugh Tinker, has collected and edited David’s letters home. He has done so not just to make a memorial to his son, but to let a dead man testify: for both father and son came to believe that this was an unjust war fought only to save the careers of ...

Attila the Hus

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 November 1982

Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 28849 4
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... relieved that she had chosen a reasonably promising young man whose family he knew. Mosley, Robert Cecil reported to Curzon, was ‘not in the first flight’ but had ‘a good future before him’. He was two years older than Cimmie; very dashing (though Curzon at once remarked on his ‘rather Jewish appearance’), and the youngest MP in the House. He was ...

Pale Ghosts

Jeremy Harding, 12 January 1995

The Electronic Elephant: A Southern African Journey 
by Dan Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 373 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 0 241 13355 6
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Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela 
Little, Brown, 630 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 316 90965 3Show More
None to Accompany Me 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1994, 0 7475 1821 1
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The Rift: The Exile Experience of South Africans 
by Hilda Bernstein.
Cape, 516 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 224 03546 0
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... Livingstone and various envoys of the London Missionary Society, who thrived on scruples; of Cecil Rhodes, and an assortment of English and Boer traders, who did without them; of the Voortrekkers, who left the Cape in sombre spirits and travelled north to cultivate a useful sense of grievance. Yet in following this beaten track Jacobson implies a ...

Godly Mafia

Blair Worden: Aristocrats v. the King, 24 May 2007

The Noble Revolt: The Overthrow of Charles I 
by John Adamson.
Weidenfeld, 742 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 0 297 84262 0
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... Fifty years, almost to the month, before the publication of John Adamson’s book, Hugh Trevor-Roper stated his intention to write what he knew would be ‘a very long book’, the most ambitious of his career, on the Puritan revolution of 17th-century England. The project went through many mutations over the next four years, but by 1961 it was virtually complete ...

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew, 21 May 2020

Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent 
by Priyamvada Gopal.
Verso, 607 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 1 78478 412 6
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... they were burdens on the motherland and impediments to free trade. But by the end of the century Cecil Rhodes’s view that imperial expansion was a ‘bread and butter question’ for the nation dominated official and public discourse. Blunt saw that the connection between nation and empire wasn’t merely material. The idea of empire had been invested with ...

Tell me what you talked

James Wood: V.S. Naipaul, 11 November 1999

Letters between a Father and Son 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Little, Brown, 333 pp., £18.50, October 1999, 0 316 63988 5
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... keep fizzing even as Epictetus sedates. Above all, there is the sympathetic identification, what Hugh Kenner, speaking of Joyce, calls the Uncle Charles Principle: Naipaul’s description so assumes Biswas’s way of thinking that it comically, pedantically offers the precise brand-name of the stomach powder, just as Biswas would if he were narrating the ...

Unliterary, Unpolished, Unromantic

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Merchant of Prato’, 8 February 2018

The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City 
by Iris Origo.
Penguin, 400 pp., £10.99, May 2017, 978 0 241 29392 8
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... to avert.’ This comes from Johnston’s charming memoir of the art historians John Fleming and Hugh Honour, published last year.* They too were part of the Lubbock household; their own memory of Origo’s visits was summed up in a sentence: ‘Then this icicle appeared and the whole house pulled itself together.’ Thirty years after her death, the gardens ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy, 6 June 2002

Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... and was, in any case, mean. He was prepared to give them nothing. ‘The three stepchildren of Hugh D. Auchincloss,’ Vidal wrote, ‘Jackie, Lee and I, were brought up in a wealthy manner and yet were penniless, unlike the gentleman’s five official children. Of necessity, Jackie married twice for money, with splendid results. Lee married twice far less ...

A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate, 4 March 1999

Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... of admiring scholars, and a certain amount of courage for the critic to resist the urge to please. Hugh Kenner, an adept in the art of winning friends and influencing people, recalls in his preface to The Invisible Poet: T.S. Eliot (1960) that ‘at my one meeting with Mr Eliot, I offered to complete a book on his literary career without pestering him.’ When ...

A Country Emptied

Ian Jack: The Highland Clearances, 7 March 2019

The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 464 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 30410 5
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... frequent mutilation: a memorial that was reviled long before anyone thought to take a hammer to Cecil Rhodes.From events like these, a general picture can be constructed of poor Scots driven overseas (the Sutherland evictees eventually left the country) by a combination of ruthless landlordism and what Devine characterises as ‘the brazen subordination of ...

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