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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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... black as hell’, Burgess made the Dark Lady of his story a voluptuous East Indian who, after seducing 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 ...

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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... and in secondhand shops; an intense feeling for poetry; an exuberant sense of mischief; a romantic 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 ...
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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... on his contemporaries and seniors at Oxford. He made friends with men and women who were to become, 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...
27 April 2000
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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... examination culture’ of Oxford and Cambridge, Annan never lost the tendency to rank the individuals 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 ...

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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... when we learn that Belloc, so vehement a Catholic apologist, took rather a poor view of Our Blessed 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 ...

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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...  as opposed to wild threats – was occasional and limited: no one was killed or permanently maimed 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 ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Football Tribes

1 June 1989
... a hanger and a swearer, and a patron of actors, was destined to be in touch with Shakespeare: 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 ...

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 ...

Diary

Keith Thomas: Working Methods

10 June 2010
... autobiography, History of a History Man, Patrick Collinson reveals that when as a young man he 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 ...

Termagant

Ian Gilmour: The Cliveden Set

19 October 2000
The Cliveden Set: Portrait of an Exclusive Fraternity 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 277 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 06093 7
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... occasion when he was right. As Sir Robert Vansittart, the strongly anti-Nazi head of the Foreign Office in the 1930s put it, ‘Lothian was an incurably superficial Johnny-Know-All.’ In 1938, A.L.Rowse, who knew him at All Souls, went further, pillorying Lothian as ‘Britain’s public enemy number one’. That was over-harsh, but by then Lothian and the rest of the Cliveden group or clique were ...

And Cabbages Too

Patrick Collinson: The Tudors

22 March 2001
New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors 1485-1603 
by Susan Brigden.
Allen Lane, 434 pp., £20, September 2000, 0 7139 9067 8
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... of 118 years, 1485 to 1603. It is a good question how we would have cut the cake and what we would have called it if the Tudors had reigned, say, from 1450 to 1700. For Bindoff, it was under the ‘able guidance’ of the Tudors that England ‘rose magnificently to great occasions and experienced something of a Golden Age’. ‘No wiser or mightier monarchs,’ he wrote, ‘ever adorned the ...
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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... fellow aristocrats, became caught up in an Early Victorian drive to recover a truly popular and 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 ...

A Cheat, a Sharper and a Swindler

Brian Young: Warren Hastings

24 May 2001
Dawning of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings 
by Jeremy Bernstein.
Aurum, 319 pp., £19.99, March 2001, 1 85410 753 4
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... perceptive creation.) Such establishment Anglo-Indian connections would also be made for centuries at the universities. It was from within this clubbish world that Penderel Moon, a sometime fellow of All Souls and member of the Indian Civil Service, produced an elegant biography of Hastings in 1947, a contribution to the ‘Teach Yourself History’ series commissioned by his colleague A.L.Rowse ...

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