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The Cult of Celebrity

Jacqueline Rose, 20 August 1998

... from here to Mark Twain’s ‘The Story of a Good Little Boy’ (who does this remind you of?):Jacob had a noble ambition to be put in a Sunday school book. He wanted to be put in with pictures representing him gloriously declining to lie to his mother … and pictures representing him standing on the doorstep giving a penny to a poor beggar-woman with six ...

Why we go to war

Ferdinand Mount, 6 June 2019

... we have seen, he later boasted that he was doing just that. So it really isn’t surprising that Margaret MacMillan should conclude in The War That Ended Peace (2013) that ‘the evidence is simply not there to support’ the idea ‘that Europe’s tensions were the product of economic rivalry’. To adapt the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, they ...

Unnatural Rebellion

Malcolm Gaskill: ‘Witches’, 2 November 2017

The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 360 pp., £25, August 2017, 978 0 300 22904 2
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... persistent desire to mythologise. The most enticing explanation was offered by an Egyptologist, Margaret Murray, who in the first half of the 20th century decided that early modern witch-hunters, far from inventing witches, had shone a disapproving light on an archaic fertility cult, close to nature and the old gods. All sorts of movements found a ...

Elizabeth Bishop’s Aviary

Mark Ford: Elizabeth Bishop’s Aviary, 29 November 2007

... with little success, to settle down in San Francisco; there she purchased a mynah bird called Jacob whom she taught to recite favourite phrases such as ‘Awful but cheerful’ (the last words of ‘The Bight’ and a phrase she said she wanted inscribed on her gravestone), ‘I, too, dislike it’ (the opening of Moore’s ‘Poetry’), and her ...

Our Lady of the Counterculture

Marina Warner: The Virgin Mary, 8 November 2012

... the saints, to the cautionary lives of the rich and addicted. The anthropology of Malinowski and Margaret Mead was another crucial inspiration, for their vision of alternative social arrangements (and sexual freedom) provided passionate support for culture over nature, for social conditioning over biological destiny. Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, which had ...


Stefan Collini: What next for the BBC?, 21 April 2022

The BBC: A People’s History 
by David Hendy.
Profile, 638 pp., £25, January, 978 1 78125 525 4
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This Is the BBC: Entertaining the Nation, Speaking for Britain? 1922-2022 
by Simon J. Potter.
Oxford, 288 pp., £20, April, 978 0 19 289852 4
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... by threatening to cut or curtail its External Services broadcasting. The director general, Ian Jacob, rightly sensing that the country was divided on the issue, stood by the corporation’s commitment to even-handed reporting. Once American pressure had forced Eden into a humiliating withdrawal from the Canal Zone, the threat evaporated, but the episode ...

Saving Masud Khan

Wynne Godley, 22 February 2001

... scum’ and complained that I was ‘marrying the daughter of a New York yid’. This yid was Jacob Epstein.Soon after my mother died I had a dream. I saw her in a bathtub in which there was no water. She was paralysed from the waist down and instead of the pubic hair I had seen as a young child there was a large open wound. Through the upper part of the ...

Falling in love with Lucian

Colm Tóibín: Lucian Freud’s Outer Being, 10 October 2019

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, 1922-68 
by William Feaver.
Bloomsbury, 680 pp., £35, September 2019, 978 1 4088 5093 0
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... of the portraits from the previous few years. She was the illegitimate daughter of the sculptor Jacob Epstein. The couple set up house in St John’s Wood, but Freud kept his old quarters at Delamere Terrace. According to one of his constant companions, ‘Lu would tell Kitty that [we] were going to work together when really [we] worked an hour or so then ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... radical, antinomian Blake who belonged in the dissenting company into which he had been coerced by Jacob Bronowski (a Cambridge scientist/poet of an earlier generation) and E.P. Thompson (in Witness against the Beast). Ackroyd’s life of Blake had to ease him away from all that, portraying a wilfully obtuse man, with his spites and his angels. He is ticked ...

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