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From Swindon to Swindon

Mary Beard, 17 February 2011

Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon and Schuster, 438 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84737 798 2
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... be enticed away from bathing in the Cam (and certainly not if the alternative cost two and six). Ferdinand Mount, who discusses the 19th-century reinvention of Roman bathing in the first chapter of Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us, takes a different view. He puts the failure down to the fact that most of the academics were still in ...

When the Jaw-Jaw Failed

Miles Taylor: Company Rule in India, 3 March 2016

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon & Schuster, 784 pp., £12.99, January 2016, 978 1 4711 2946 9
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... of Low’s other descendants – and another of Cameron’s relatives – was ready to respond. Ferdinand Mount is the great-great-grandchild of John Low (and a cousin of the prime minister’s mother). In The Tears of the Rajas, he doesn’t try to set the family record straight, but blends the history of British India with the story of the Lows and ...

Confusion is power

David Runciman: Our Very Own Oligarchs, 7 June 2012

The New Few, or a Very British Oligarchy: Power and Inequality in Britain Now 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon and Schuster, 305 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 1 84737 800 2
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... control, there is no doubt about who is in charge. If Britain is turning into an oligarchy, as Ferdinand Mount claims, then it’s nothing like the Russian version. Mount begins with the Russians and their new breed of ‘nimble freebooters’, whose rise to power he calls ‘an amazing, shocking spectacle’. So ...

High Jinks at the Plaza

Perry Anderson, 22 October 1992

The British Constitution Now 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Heinemann, 289 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 47994 2
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Constitutional Reform 
by Robert Brazier.
Oxford, 172 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 876257 7
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Anatomy of Thatcherism 
by Shirley Letwin.
Fontana, 364 pp., £6.99, October 1992, 0 00 686243 8
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... attention must charm as well as instruct; this is not so, I think, in other countries,’ writes Ferdinand Mount. Who better to illustrate the claim? Few figures in the world of English letters possess such a combination of credentials. Author of a number of novels; columnist or leader-writer for half of the nation’s press, with a record of service ...

Love, Loss and Family Advantage

Rosalind Mitchison, 1 September 1983

Family Forms in Historic Europe 
edited by Richard Wall.
Cambridge, 606 pp., £37.50, March 1983, 0 521 24547 8
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Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England 
by Ann Kussmaul.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £22, December 1981, 0 521 23566 9
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The Subversive Family: An Alternative History of Love and Marriage 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Cape, 282 pp., £9.50, July 1982, 0 224 01999 6
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... Living and working within the family he had joined would inevitably set up personal links. Ferdinand Mount’s book on the family is a skilful piece of popularisation. Its content is much what can be found in the relevant parts of social history courses – a look at the family over time, and the recognition of its remarkable consistency in ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 December 1992

English Questions 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 370 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 375 9
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A Zone of Engagement 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 384 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 377 5
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... has resurrected the myth of yeoman virtue to warn against the bureaucracies of Brussels. Ferdinand Mount – thinking for the less militant tendency – has been altogether more subtle. A free-trade area with a common currency and an impotent parliament (the extension at Maastricht of the Treaty of Rome), together with the power that European ...

Mao meets Oakeshott

John Lanchester: Britain’s new class divide, 21 October 2004

Mind the Gap: The New Class Divide in Britain 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Short Books, 320 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 1 904095 94 1
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... for somebody to say something . . . and wait . . . and wait . . . It is in this context that Ferdinand Mount’s book Mind the Gap is so welcome. He has written an essay about class in which it is possible to disagree with almost every assertion and produce counter-examples for almost every fact, but which gives the strange, giddy-making sensation ...

Short Cuts

Stephen Sedley: Labour and Anti-Semitism, 10 May 2018

... and shoot down unarmed protesters, gets misdirected at Israelis’ cousins and co-religionists. Ferdinand Mount has described the Balfour Declaration of 1917 as ‘the last gasp of Edwardian nonchalance’, adding: ‘It is hard to imagine Palmerston or Peel launching into such a wild promise without thinking it through.’ But is it really right to ...

Book Reviewing

Stefan Collini: On the ‘TLS’, 5 November 2020

... in the 1980s it lost money every year and by 1990 circulation was down to 26,000 copies. When Ferdinand Mount was appointed editor in 1990 he diplomatically announced that, while contemplating some changes, he did not want to tamper with ‘the bedrock virtues of the paper – the comprehensive coverage, the adventurousness, the readiness to cover ...

Drabble’s Progress

John Sutherland, 5 December 1991

The Gates of Ivory 
by Margaret Drabble.
Viking, 464 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 670 84270 2
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Happily Ever After 
by Jenny Diski.
Hamish Hamilton, 245 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 241 13169 3
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Of Love and Asthma 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Heinemann, 321 pp., £13.99, September 1991, 0 434 47993 4
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... it is probably more informative about asthma than love. Non-sufferers could usefully consult Mount’s novel for instruction on asthma pillows, inhalers, and the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic conditions of the ailment. Asthma is hell on earth – but not without its compensating excitements. The narrative, which covers thirty years, begins ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... Fund to release money for the acquisition of the papers of living British authors. On 9 April, Ferdinand Mount used his pulpit in the TLS to add reasoned support for a long-term policy of preserving the national literary heritage in the copyright libraries – specifically by the acquisition of the materials of currently active writers. Clearly ...

John Sturrock

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 21 September 2017

... and it is so sad to think that I shall never hear his confidential voice over the telephone again. Ferdinand Mount I joined the TLS straight out of university in the 1990s, so only overlapped briefly with John, but he left a very deep impression on me, as he did on all who were lucky enough to meet him and work with him. When he decided to move to the ...


James Wood: The ‘TLS’, 27 June 2002

Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... about world events, something it has continued to do very well under its now departing editor, Ferdinand Mount. May’s book ends with some good anecdotes. I liked his remarks about Nicolas Walter, the great epistolary rationalist, who was an editor at the TLS until contributors began to complain that he was randomly adding the names of famous ...

What Matters

Walter Benn Michaels: Class Trumps Race, 27 August 2009

Who Cares about the White Working Class? 
edited by Kjartan Páll Sveinsson.
Runnymede Perspectives, 72 pp., January 2009, 978 1 906732 10 3
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... were the injury. It’s thus a relevant fact about Who Cares about the White Working Class? that Ferdinand Mount, who once advised Thatcher, is twice cited and praised here for condemning the middle class’s bad behaviour in displaying its open contempt for ‘working-class cultures’. He represents an improvement over those who seek to blame the poor ...

Lucky Lad

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Harold Evans, 17 December 2009

My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times – An Autobiography 
by Harold Evans.
Little, Brown, 515 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 1 4087 0203 1
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... decency and amiability of his origins. At the beginning of his own journalistic career, Ferdinand Mount somewhat incongruously worked at the tabloid Daily Sketch, under the man who later transformed the Daily Mail. In his memoir Cold Cream, Mount says drily that great editors are rarely nice men, ‘and David ...

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