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Don’t lock up the wife

E.S. Turner: Georgina Weldon, 5 October 2000

A Monkey among Crocodiles: The Life, Loves and Lawsuits of Mrs Georgina Weldon 
by Brian Thompson.
HarperCollins, 304 pp., £19.99, June 2000, 0 00 257189 7
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... Orphanage’, an enterprise which failed to endear her to the ground landlord, the Duke of Bedford. The neighbours had to suffer a morning hour of organised yelling, designed to let the children ‘get the wickedness out of their systems’. The absurdity to which Georgina was blind now took over. At a social event she ensnared the composer Gounod, in ...

Impervious to Draughts

Rosemary Hill: Das englische Haus, 22 May 2008

The English House 
by Hermann Muthesius, edited by Dennis Sharp, translated by Janet Seligman and Stewart Spencer.
Frances Lincoln, 699 pp., £125, June 2007, 978 0 7112 2688 3
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... and manufacturers who could commission a substantial country house, to the suburban terraces of Bedford Park and the budding garden city at Letchworth. It might even, given enlightened patronage, be modified to accommodate the working class. Muthesius was impressed by the factory hands’ housing at Port Sunlight. There was nothing like this in ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... had an affair.) They shared friends and lovers, or at least lovers-in-law, on occasion. (Sybille Bedford floats around in this book like a benign sapphic putto.) And though residing in different places at different times, all of them moved for more than half a century in the same impossibly glamorous literary and artistic circles in ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... Never Had It So Good. This neatly illustrates the drawback of decaditis: Macmillan’s speech at Bedford football ground on 20 July 1957 points forward as well as back. Having It So Good is the second volume in a history of postwar Britain: the first volume, Never Again, a history of 1945-51 or the ‘short postwar’, was published in 1992. Hennessy starts ...

Why the richest woman in Britain changed her will 26 times

Mark Kishlansky: The Duchess of Marlborough, 14 November 2002

The Favourite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Ophelia Field.
Hodder, 575 pp., £20, June 2002, 9780340768075
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... were happy. Her daughters Henrietta and Mary conducted well-publicised affairs, Henrietta’s with William Congreve, who left his estate to their illegitimate daughter and named Henrietta’s husband as executor. (The dilemma of the cuckold is eased when his horns are made of gold, as Dr Johnson might have said.) Sarah was mortified when Henrietta appeared at ...

Items on a New Agenda

Conrad Russell, 23 October 1986

Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Maria Dowling.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 7099 0864 4
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Henry, Prince of Wales and England’s Lost Renaissance 
by Roy Strong.
Thames and Hudson, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 500 01375 6
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Authority and Conflict: England 1603-1658 
by Derek Hirst.
Arnold, 390 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 7131 6155 8
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Rebellion or Revolution? England 1640-1660 
by G.E. Aylmer.
Oxford, 274 pp., £12.50, February 1986, 0 19 219179 9
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Politics and Ideology in England 1603-1640 
by J.P. Sommerville.
Longman, 254 pp., £6.95, April 1986, 9780582494329
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... his occasional grudging acceptance of a community of interest. With Anne came the King’s doctor William Butts, ‘whose unobtrusive services to the evangelical cause played a key part in the course of Henrician reformation’. This Boleyn-Butts axis often appears in this book competing vigorously for limelight with Thomas Cromwell. We should not exaggerate ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... males can rewrite a life. Schreiner gets into the DNB as an appendix to her lawyer brother William. William is not mentioned in the Companion entry, even as an appendix. The Companion is careful to note that Olive’s mother, ‘a brilliant, exacting Englishwoman’, ‘once beat her for using an Afrikaans ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre, 8 January 2015

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... of alternative accommodation for the company. He paid the owner of the former refectory, Sir William More, £600 for the freehold, and according to later computations spent a further £400 on refurbishing it for use as a theatre. The idea of siting a new public theatre within the city walls was a gamble. None currently existed – the Theatre and the ...


Richard Horton, 8 October 1992

Edward Jenner 1749-1823 
by Richard Fisher.
Deutsch, 361 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 233 98681 2
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... from George Pearson, who verified the efficacy of vaccination from his own collaborative work with William Woodville at the Smallpox Hospital in London. Woodville went on to describe over five hundred individuals who had received vaccination, and his work lent credibility to Jenner’s preliminary observations. Although the initial discovery of vaccination was ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks, 18 August 1983

Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... it bad for them and for their art, and he deprecated the propensity when he found it in his son William Butler Yeats: ‘I wish Willie had Jack’s tender gracious manner, and did not sometimes treat me as if I was a black beetle.’ To judge by these entrancing, life-enhancing letters, John Butler Yeats never treated anybody as a black beetle. The contrast ...

A Moustache Too Far

Danny Karlin: Melville goes under, 8 May 2003

Herman Melville: A Biography. Vol. II: 1851-91 
by Hershel Parker.
Johns Hopkins, 997 pp., £31, May 2002, 0 8018 6892 0
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... rise to passages such as the following: On 25 September (5° 14's, 105&°53'W) the log of the William Wirt reported its meeting the Acushnet and learning that it now had 600 barrels of oil. On 8 October the Acushnet ‘spoke’ the William Lee, fifteen months out of Newport, with 400 barrels. On 11 October ...

Gilded Drainpipes

E.S. Turner: London, 10 June 1999

The London Rich: The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present 
by Peter Thorold.
Viking, 374 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 670 87480 9
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The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches: Style and Status in Victorian and Edwardian Architecture 
by Mordaunt Crook.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 7195 6040 3
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... by bedding heiresses. No slavemaster had a higher scorn for aristocrats than the promiscuous Sir William Beckford, the exceedingly rich Lord Mayor of London who complained to Horace Walpole that the air of Richmond was so bad that 12 of his natural children had died there; to which one can only add that they would have died faster in the West Indies. East of ...

Hallelujah Times

Eric Foner: The Great Migration, 29 June 2017

A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland 
by Sydney Nathans.
Harvard, 313 pp., £23.95, February 2017, 978 0 674 97214 8
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... the aftermath of slavery, freedpeople throughout the South demanded access to land. When General William T. Sherman met with a group of black ministers in Savannah in January 1865, he asked what would enable the emancipated slaves to live as free people. They answered: ‘Give us land.’ Sherman set aside a portion of coastal South Carolina and Georgia for ...

Joe, Jerry and Bomber Blair

Owen Hatherley: Jonathan Meades, 7 March 2013

Museum without Walls 
by Jonathan Meades.
Unbound, 446 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 908717 18 4
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... of refined barbarians. The pantheon contains John Vanbrugh, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, S.S. Teulon, William Butterfield, Frederick Pilkington, Dominikus and Gottfried Böhm, Claude Parent, Rodney Gordon, Richard Rogers (in his Gothic moods), Zaha Hadid. Sometimes, as with the Communist emulator of the style of Italian Fascism Douglas Stephen, architect of a ...

Hug me till you drug me

Alex Harvey: Aldous Huxley, 5 May 2016

After Many a Summer 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 035 5
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Time Must Have a Stop 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 305 pp., £9.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 034 8
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The Genius and the Goddess 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 127 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 036 2
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... Throughout his fiction there’s a puritan unease about the emasculating effect of sex. Sybille Bedford, Huxley’s first biographer, notes his distaste for promiscuity, ‘which spends itself purposely, without producing love or even, in the long run, amusement’. After Many a Summer, Time Must Have a Stop and The Genius and the Goddess all centre on a ...

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