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Brave as hell

John Kerrigan, 21 June 1984

Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... the dramatist, inspired the tragic plays of his maturity by giving him a dose of syphilis. A.L. Rowse, meanwhile, edited the sonnets themselves. Already the author of a large-scale life of the poet, and, as a historian, well-placed to deal with at least one aspect of the verse, Rowse produced a volume that was ultimately ...

This Trying Time

A.N. Wilson: John Sparrow, 1 October 1998

The Warden 
by John Lowe.
HarperCollins, 258 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 215392 0
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... temperament which enabled him to enjoy a number of undemanding love affairs; a fellowship of All Souls and, at the age of only 45, the Wardenship. Perhaps this last was the trouble, ‘OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH YOU DURING THIS TRYING TIME. JOHN AND PENELOPE’ read his telegram from the Betjemans when he was elected. Or perhaps it was money, never having to ...

The Trouble with Trott

Gabriele Annan, 22 February 1990

A Good German: Adam von Trott zu Solz 
by Giles MacDonogh.
Quartet, 358 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 7043 2730 9
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... or beginning to be, what the Germans call prominente. Among them were Richard Crossman, A.L. Rowse, Maurice Bowra, Isaiah Berlin, David Astor and the journalist Shiela Grant Duff, who, in 1982, published a book about their relationship, and followed it up with a volume of their correspondence. At opposite ends of the political spectrum he impressed Lord ...

Haleking

John Bossy: Simon Forman, 22 February 2001

The Notorious Astrological Physician of London: Works and Days of Simon Forman 
by Barbara Howard Traister.
Chicago, 260 pp., £19, February 2001, 0 226 81140 9
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Dr Simon Forman: A Most Notorious Physician 
by Judith Cook.
Chatto, 228 pp., £18.99, January 2001, 0 7011 6899 4
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... Twenty-five years ago A.L. Rowse, whose memory becomes more blessed in an age of research assessment exercises, made known to the world the riveting personality of the Elizabethan and Jacobean astrologer, private-enterprise medical practitioner, counsellor, sexual athlete and compulsive writer Simon Forman. Forman’s voluminous papers, case-notes, diaries and all sorts of other writings had been in the Bodleian Library since Elias Ashmole presented them in the late 17th century ...

Grisly Creed

Patrick Collinson: John Wyclif, 22 February 2007

John Wyclif: Myth and Reality 
by G.R. Evans.
Lion, 320 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7459 5154 6
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... In about 1950, A.L. Rowse persuaded K.B. McFarlane to contribute to his biographical series ‘Teach Yourself History’ a short book on John Wyclif, an Oxford intellectual dead for six hundred years and the only arch-heretic bred in Catholic England before the Tudors and the Reformation. In one way this wasn’t surprising, since Rowse and McFarlane were friends ...
The Dons 
by Noël Annan.
HarperCollins, 357 pp., £17.99, November 1999, 0 00 257074 2
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A Man of Contradictions: A Life of A.L. Rowse 
by Richard Ollard.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 7139 9353 7
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... he discussed (‘the outstanding theoretical economist of Our Age’; ‘the most impressive of all the Marxist historians’): ‘The Nation Sits the Tripos’ was Collini’s idea for an alternative title. The Dons is a more lightweight sequel to Our Age. Most of it is written by ‘Lord Annan’, still in committee mode, but increasingly finding ...

Casual Offenders

J.S. Morrill, 7 May 1981

The Justice and the Mare’s Ale 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 238 pp., £8.50, March 1981, 0 631 12681 3
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... and the one man who claimed to have been rendered immobile for some weeks seems to have been able to run several hundred yards to raise the alarm before succumbing to his wounds. Fourthly, that most of the offences were either bungled or led to the immediate recognition of the offenders by the victims. On one occasion, a planned highway robbery went ...

Houses at the end of their tether

C.H. Sisson, 17 March 1983

Caves of Ice 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 276 pp., £12.95, February 1983, 0 7011 2657 4
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... roughly established, though it is varied and extended in a manner which makes the book – as A.L. Rowse said of Ancestral Voices – ‘a contribution to the social history of the age’. The particular interest which attaches to the years 1946-7 is in the picture of the landowning classes coping, on the whole with fortitude, with the disconcerting situation ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Football Tribes, 1 June 1989

... reputedly the son of Henry VIII, he was also, I notice, the keeper of the woman claimed by A.L. Rowse (after Fraser’s book came out) as the Dark Lady of the Sonnets. The ballads collected by Walter Scott contain wonderful praise – together with much that is more wonderful – of reiver exploits, of their boldness. But Fraser is sharp with Scott’s ...

Literary Man

J.I.M. Stewart, 7 June 1984

Hilaire Belloc 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 398 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 241 11176 5
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... Lord, revering him simply because the Church bade him do so, but judging him a bit of a milksop all the same. That the Bible is ‘a pack of lies... lying as only shameless yids can lie’, is an opinion of Belloc’s vouched for, it seems, by two of his grandsons, Julian Jebb and Dom Philip Jebb OSB. Nothing about Belloc can be stranger to us today than ...

Pillors of Fier

Frank Kermode: Anthony Burgess, 11 July 2002

Nothing like the Sun: reissue 
by Anthony Burgess.
Allison and Busby, 234 pp., £7.99, January 2002, 0 7490 0512 2
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... is best to leave the Dark Lady anonymous, even composite.’ Burgess was writing before A.L. Rowse, exercising his superior historical method and unmatched intellect, announced that she was incontrovertibly Emilia Lanier. Burgess might have liked that idea, which has a certain glamour because of Lanier’s close connection with the astrologer Simon ...

Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian, 7 July 1988

The Spanish Armada 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £15, April 1988, 0 241 12125 6
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Armada 1588-1988 
by M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado.
Penguin and the National Maritime Museum, 295 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 14 010301 5
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Armada: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988 
by Peter Padfield.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 575 03729 6
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Froude’s ‘Spanish Story of the Armada’, and Other Essays 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Sutton, 262 pp., £5.95, May 1988, 0 86299 500 0
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Ireland’s Armada Legacy 
by Laurence Flanagan.
Sutton, 210 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 9780862994730
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The Armada in the Public Records 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HMSO, 76 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 11 440215 9
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The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 
by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Oxford, 300 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 19 822926 7
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... All these books are concerned with what the Spaniards once called the Felicissima Armada and what the English still, with a quiet smile, call the Invincible Armada (apparently it was Burleigh who first thought of the word, shortly after the event). They differ very much in approach, in emphasis, and even in conclusion – Mia Rodrigues-Salgado, for example, feels that the enterprise increased Philip II’s reputation, particularly in the north – but they all of course agree in trying to place the disastrous voyage in its context ...

Diary

Keith Thomas: Working Methods, 10 June 2010

... was asked by the medievalist Geoffrey Barraclough at a job interview what his research method was, all he could say was that he tried to look at everything which was remotely relevant to his subject: ‘I had no “method”, only an omnium gatherum of materials culled from more or less everywhere.’ Most of us would say the same.But how do we deal with this ...

Hugh Dalton to the rescue

Keith Thomas, 13 November 1997

The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 523 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 06703 8
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Ancient as the Hills 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7195 5596 5
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The Fate of the English Country House 
by David Littlejohn.
Oxford, 344 pp., £20, May 1997, 9780195088762
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... national history. They became symbols of a shared past, and were viewed as the common property of all classes. Better transport and growing leisure made it possible for Londoners to take day-trips to Hampton Court or Cobham Hall and for the inhabitants of Birmingham and Manchester to visit such show houses as Eaton Hall, Alton ...

Mulberrying

Andrew Gurr, 6 February 1986

Forms of Attention 
by Frank Kermode.
Chicago, 93 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 226 43168 1
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Shakespeare: A Writer’s Progress 
by Philip Edwards.
Oxford, 204 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 219184 5
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Shakespeare’s Lost Play: ‘Edmund Ironside’ 
edited by Eric Sams.
Fourth Estate, 383 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 947795 95 2
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Such is my love: A Study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets 
by Joseph Pequigney.
Chicago, 249 pp., £16.95, October 1985, 0 226 65563 6
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Shakespeare Survey 38: An Annual Survey of Shakespearian Study and Production 
edited by Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 521 32026 7
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The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama 
by Catherine Belsey.
Methuen, 253 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 416 32700 1
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... the history of the canon’s reputation. Interpretation relies on the appearance of fixity in all these trappings, though some forms of interpretation do try to adjust some of the fixtures around the margins and even near the centre of the canon, while taking care not to alter its value. The problem which promotes this illusion is that interpretation can ...

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