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Landlord of the Moon

David Craig: Scottish islands

21 February 2002
Sea Room: An Island Life 
by Adam Nicolson.
HarperCollins, 391 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 00 257164 1
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... I never thought I would find myself writing warmly about a book by a Scottish laird. AdamNicolson owns the Shiant Islands, east of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The Shiants are a compact cluster and, like all small islands, offer the marvellous sense that you can encompass them, you can easily ...

‘We would rather eat our cake than merely have it’

Rosemary Hill: Victorian men and women

4 October 2001
A Circle of Sisters: Georgiana Burne-Jones, Agnes Poynter and Louisa Baldwin 
by Judith Flanders.
Penguin, 392 pp., £17.99, September 2001, 0 670 88673 4
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The Hated Wife: Carrie Kipling 1862-1939 
by Adam Nicolson.
Short Books, 96 pp., £4.99, May 2001, 0 571 20835 5
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Victorian Diaries: The Daily Lives of Victorian Men and Women 
edited by Heather Creaton.
Mitchell Beazley, 144 pp., £14.99, February 2001, 1 84000 359 6
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... Alice’s daughter-in-law Carrie Kipling, who was liked only by her husband (and by Georgie). Although she makes no particular case for Carrie, Flanders gives a more sympathetic account of her than AdamNicolson manages in his ‘short life’. Revisionist biographies can be brief if they are meant to debunk. One well-aimed brick will shatter a plate-glass front. To make a subject more sympathetic ...

Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England

20 December 2012
The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... meadows and white houses glowing in the vee of the col beneath the cloud-wrack. It is not. Instead we are given bits of John McGahern and John Nash, Neil Gunn and Nan Shepherd and Edward Thomas and AdamNicolson, and the place itself is disappeared: ‘To my mind the Pools [of Dee] possess a near supernatural presence, recalling the dust-free mirrors of Buddhist symbolism or the “well at the world ...

How good is it?

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Inside the KJB

3 February 2011
The Holy Bible: King James Version, 1611 Text 
edited by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 1552 pp., £50, October 2010, 978 0 19 955760 8
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Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 
by Gordon Campbell.
Oxford, 354 pp., £16.99, October 2010, 978 0 19 955759 2
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The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today 
by David Norton.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 521 61688 1
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The King James Bible after 400 Years: Literary, Linguistic and Cultural Influences 
edited by Hannibal Hamlin and Norman Jones.
Cambridge, 364 pp., £25, December 2010, 978 0 521 76827 6
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Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language 
by David Crystal.
Oxford, 327 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 0 19 958585 4
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... the most interesting and perceptive essayists is R.S. Sugirtharajah, even though his postcolonial scrutiny of the KJB takes surprisingly bitter sideswipes at a rather good recent history of 1611 by AdamNicolson. Sugirtharajah chronicles how successful a handmaid of empire the KJB proved; its unprecedentedly numerous usages of the word ‘nation’ as a translation for four different Hebrew words in ...

Diary

Neal Ascherson: Scotophobia

5 April 2007
... stiff upper lip. ‘There is a propriety to British [sic] nationalism that betrays its Victorian origins: austerity, industriousness, respect, stoicism, fortitude, fairness, regularity, decency,’ AdamNicolson wrote a month later in the Telegraph, ‘there is nothing particularly British about them. They are the virtues of a Victorian middle class.’ If these bourgeois values attach to a class ...
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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... could have acquired his knowledge of houses and furniture, but his was certainly considerable. Moreover, he combined this mere knowledge with social qualifications of a high order. Harold Nicolson admires the way ‘he wheedles things out of old ladies.’ There is more to it than that. He has just the right tone when he makes sympathetic noises to those who deplore the moral decadence of the ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor

1 June 2016
David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... American rich boy’. But on the evidence of Lewis’s perceptive and absorbing biography, that verdict falls wide of the mark. ‘Oh my sweet​ , how glad I am that we are not rich,’ Harold Nicolson wrote to his wife, Vita Sackville-West, after a visit to Cliveden in 1936, complaining about the ‘ghastly unreality about it all … like living on the stage of the Scala theatre in Milan’. The ...

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