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New Ways of Killing Your Father

Colm Tóibín, 18 November 1993

Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 305 pp., £22.50, October 1993, 0 7139 9095 3
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... and I went to Wexford for the launch of a new history of the 1798 Rising, The Year of Liberty by Thomas Pakenham. The Rising was important for us: from our housing estate we could see Vinegar Hill where ‘our side’, the rebels, had made their last stand. From early childhood I knew certain things (I hesitate to say ‘facts’) about the Rising: how the ...

The Style It Takes

Mark Ford: John Cale, 16 September 1999

What’s Welsh for Zen? The Autobiography of John Cale 
by Victor Bockris.
Bloomsbury, 272 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 7475 3668 6
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... repertoire, to compose orchestral pieces, to write scores for ballets or settings for Dylan Thomas poems, however, is well beyond the competence of other stars in the firmament, even Paul McCartney. There have been various, normally embarrassing attempts by rock groups, or ex-members of rock groups going solo, to explore musical ‘concepts’ and ...

Schusterism

C.H. Sisson, 18 April 1985

Diaries: 1923-1925 
by Siegfried Sassoon, edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 320 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 571 13322 3
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... glamour and splendour. Among the more solid figures who appear on this stage from time to time are Thomas Hardy, visited more than once in Dorchester: Tea at Max Gate. Lady Stacie there, a descendant of R.B. Sheridan – and a fashionable lady, formerly a great beauty. She gushed to T.H. about his novels at the ...

Unhoused

Terry Eagleton: Anonymity, 22 May 2008

Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature 
by John Mullan.
Faber, 374 pp., £17.99, January 2008, 978 0 571 19514 5
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... same reason. He was also the undeclared reviewer of one of his own novels in the Yorkshire Post. Thomas Gray’s Elegy, the most frequently reprinted poem of 18th-century England, was published anonymously. With becoming modesty, Sense and Sensibility was advertised as ‘By a Lady’, a common enough ascription at the time. None of Austen’s other novels ...

Centre-Stage

Ian Gilmour, 1 August 1996

The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle 
by John Ehrman.
Constable, 911 pp., £35, May 1996, 9780094755406
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... 1798, Pitt introduced income tax. This was not a strikingly original conception. Two years earlier Thomas Love Peacock, aged 11, had written that while he did not wish ‘Mr Pitt’s removal from his exalted station’, he thought Pitt ‘would have acted more in conformity with the wishes of the People had he taxed everyone according to their ...

Manchester’s Moment

Boyd Hilton, 20 August 1998

Free Trade and Liberal England, 1846-1946 
by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 336 pp., £45, December 1997, 9780198201465
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The Origins of War Prevention: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1730-1854 
by Martin Ceadel.
Oxford, 587 pp., £55, December 1996, 0 19 822674 8
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... is that they were written, not by some blimpish country gentleman, but by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, former pacifist, scourge of the Establishment and Irish patriot. Later, as Wellington led the offensive on the Continent and the Navy gobbled up sugar islands, the English continued – quite genuinely and without any sense of contradiction – to see ...

Red Stars

John Sutherland, 6 December 1984

Wild Berries 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, translated by Antonia Bovis.
Macmillan, 296 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 333 37559 9
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The Burn 
by Vassily Aksyonov, translated by Michael Glenny.
Hutchinson, 528 pp., £10.95, October 1984, 0 09 155580 9
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Fellow Travellers 
by T.C. Worsley.
Gay Men’s Press, 249 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 907040 51 9
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The Power of the Dog 
by Thomas Savage.
Chatto, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7011 3939 0
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The Fourth Protocol 
by Frederick Forsyth.
Hutchinson, 448 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 09 158630 5
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The Set-Up 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 397 pp., £8.95, September 1984, 0 370 30583 3
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... in Spender’s autobiography, ‘Harry Watson’ by Worsley and ‘a secretary’ by Hugh Thomas in his history of the Spanish Civil War). The relationship went sour, Spender married, and Tony-Jimmy-Harry, fired by the doctrines he had picked up from his intellectual friends, enlisted in the International Brigade. In Spain, he was traumatised by ...

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell, 16 April 2020

Poetics of the Pillory: English Literature and Seditious Libel, 1660-1820 
by Thomas Keymer.
Oxford, 352 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 19 874449 8
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... books, the printer’s name and location could be disguised by the use of a false imprint.For Thomas Keymer in his beautifully detailed history, such strategies of evasion are one of the things that make seditious literary texts worth reading, forms of energetic ‘creativity and rhetorical complexity’ for which, perhaps counterintuitively, we have the ...

Oscar and Constance

Tom Paulin, 17 November 1983

The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 241 10964 7
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The Importance of Being Constance: A Biography of Oscar Wilde’s Wife 
by Joyce Bentley.
Hale, 160 pp., £8.75, May 1983, 0 7090 0538 5
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Mrs Oscar Wilde: A Woman of Some Importance 
by Anne Clark Amor.
Sidgwick, 249 pp., £8.95, June 1983, 9780283989674
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... distinctive qualities of ‘keenness, generosity and a sexless intellect’, he aligned him with Sheridan, Goldsmith and Shaw in seeing him as a clown figure. The implied parallel is with Tom Moore, that paradigm of the Irish artist as entryist, entertainer and harmless fool. But the comparison cannot explain the tragically symbolic pattern of Wilde’s ...

Valorising Valentine Brown

Patricia Craig, 5 September 1985

Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939 
by W.J. McCormack.
Oxford, 423 pp., £27.50, June 1985, 0 19 812806 1
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Across a Roaring Hill 
edited by Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley.
Blackstaff, 258 pp., £10.95, July 1985, 0 85640 334 2
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Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 
by Seamus Deane.
Faber, 199 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13500 5
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Escape from the Anthill 
by Hubert Butler.
Lilliput, 342 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 946640 00 9
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... Irish century that escaped from darkness and confusion’. Swift, Berkeley, Burke, Goldsmith and Sheridan: all these stood for clarity of thought, while Dublin gaiety, Belfast liberalism, and the sense of national consequence acquired at Dungannon, all contributed something to the Yeatsian image of a mellow era. That this particular form of Irishness was ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again, 11 August 2016

Robert Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... 1972 to his death in 1977. With Hardwick he had a daughter, Harriet, and with Blackwood a son, Sheridan; he was also stepfather to Blackwood’s three daughters. Towards the end of his marriage to Stafford and throughout his years with Hardwick, Lowell often also had a ‘girl’, as he put it, for whom he imagined leaving his wife. In 1954, Lowell ...

Little Bastard

Patrick Collinson: Learning to be Queen, 6 July 2000

Elizabeth: Apprenticeship 
by David Starkey.
Chatto, 339 pp., £20, April 2000, 0 7011 6939 7
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Elizabeth I: Collected Works 
edited by Leah Marcus and Janel Mueller.
Chicago, 436 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 226 50464 6
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... monarch. It was not always so. Whatever else has been said about the first Elizabeth (one recalls Sheridan’s ‘no scandal about Queen Elizabeth I hope?’) no one has ever complimented her on being dull. In sending her royal brother Edward VI her youthful likeness, soon to be hidden for ever behind the iconic mask of royalty, she apologised for her ...

Umbrageousness

Ferdinand Mount: Staffing the Raj, 7 September 2017

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India 
by Shashi Tharoor.
Hurst, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 808 8
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The Making of India: The Untold Story of British Enterprise 
by Kartar Lalvani.
Bloomsbury, 433 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 1 4729 2482 7
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India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire 
by Jon Wilson.
Simon & Schuster, 564 pp., £12.99, August 2017, 978 1 4711 0126 7
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... abolished after the Mutiny. Nothing exceeds the raw passion of the denunciations by Burke and Sheridan and, it is often forgotten, by Adam Smith too, on the greed and duplicity of the nabobs in general, and Warren Hastings in particular. As a young man, Lytton Strachey admired Hastings and wrote a long thesis on him, while dismissing Burke as ‘an ...

No Shortage of Cousins

David Trotter: Bowenology, 12 August 2021

Selected Stories 
by Elizabeth Bowen, edited by Tessa Hadley.
Vintage, 320 pp., £14.99, April, 978 1 78487 715 6
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The Hotel 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Anchor, 256 pp., $16, August 2020, 978 0 593 08065 8
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Friends and Relations 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Anchor, 224 pp., $16, August 2020, 978 0 593 08067 2
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... the abandoned child in The Death of the Heart (1938), is to be stored for a year with her brother Thomas Quayne and his wife, Anna, in their desirable residence at 2 Windsor Terrace, Regent’s Park, in the expectation either that they might grow to like her, or that she’ll somehow acquire a husband (she’s sixteen). If all else fails, Portia will ‘go ...

The devil has two horns

J.G.A. Pocock, 24 February 1994

The Great Melody: A Thematic Biography and Commented Anthology of Edmund Burke 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Minerva, 692 pp., £8.99, September 1993, 0 7493 9721 7
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... the purpose – O’Brien very persuasively suggests – of tying up the energies of Burke and Sheridan in an enterprise which led away from the floor of the Commons; and impeachment itself was so imprecise a species of prosecution that one wonders what it was meant to achieve beyond its own grandeur as a public inquest and event. Impeachments in the past ...

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