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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. Adam Nicolson 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 walk or sail round them and get to know each rock-face or sand-bar, each vein of water or peat-hagg lip ...

‘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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... she makes no particular case for Carrie, Flanders gives a more sympathetic account of her than Adam Nicolson 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, however, means re-creating nuances of character and ...

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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... we are given bits of John McGahern and John Nash, Neil Gunn and Nan Shepherd and Edward Thomas and Adam Nicolson, 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’s end” in Neil Gunn’s novel of the same ...

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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... of the KJB takes surprisingly bitter sideswipes at a rather good recent history of 1611 by Adam Nicolson. 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 the Old Testament helped to colour a new vision of ...


Neal Ascherson: Scotophobia, 5 April 2007

... austerity, industriousness, respect, stoicism, fortitude, fairness, regularity, decency,’ Adam Nicolson 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 and a period, did they also belong to other classes? We ...

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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... 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 English people, and enough decadence of his own to ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 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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... 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 Nicolsons were hardly impoverished – they’d moved ...

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