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Playing Fields, Flanders Fields

Paul Delany, 21 January 1982

War Diary 1913-1917: Chronicle of Youth 
by Vera Brittain, edited by Alan Bishop.
Gollancz, 382 pp., £8.50, September 1981, 0 575 02888 2
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The English Poets of the First World War 
by John Lehmann.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £6.95, August 1981, 0 500 01256 3
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Voices from the Great War 
by Peter Vansittart.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 224 01915 5
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The Little Field-Marshal: Sir John French 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 427 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 224 01575 3
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... When Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth was published in 1933 it struck a deep chord among those in England who felt, as she did, that their youth had been ‘smashed up’ by the Great War. Nearly a million men of their generation lay buried in Flanders and Gallipoli; many of those who remained felt condemned to hollow lives, haunted by loss and grief ...
... and no longer retainers; sometimes the retainers of someone else and one indeed of Gaunt’s enemy Bishop Henry De-spenser whose ‘crusade’ of 1383 caused such a row. So I left the library on Wednesday evening with a mind wholly at peace. Then a quick change into a dinner jacket and a gin-and-lime before going to the victory feast in Hall. Put on at the ...
Nixon: A Study in Extremes of Fortune 
by Lord Longford.
Weidenfeld, 205 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 297 77708 4
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... put up his candidate before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where, you will recall, the bishop advances his case based upon the life and the writings; a Promotor Fidei is then required to step forward and suggest why these might be a barrel of (expletive deleted). It is not a role to which I warm. Since the ...

Rigging and Bending

Simon Adams: James VI & I, 9 October 2003

The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & I 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 438 pp., £20, February 2003, 0 7011 6984 2
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... Lynch rather regretfully admit, has not yet been superseded, despite numerous subsequent studies. Alan Stewart is a lively writer, but heavily (and uncritically) reliant on the established published sources and liable to turn reported into direct speech to keep the narrative flowing. His bibliography is impressive, but appears to have been only partially ...

In Her Philosopher’s Cloak

Barbara Graziosi: Hypatia, 17 August 2017

Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher 
by Edward J. Watts.
Oxford, 205 pp., £19.99, April 2017, 978 0 19 021003 8
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... accounts, the ancient record is thin. Historians rely on five sources: the letters of Synesius, a bishop who studied under Hypatia in his youth and remained in contact with her throughout his life; the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus; another church history by Philostorgius, also written shortly after her death; the Life of Isidore by the ...

At St Peter’s

Colm Tóibín: The Dangers of a Priestly Education, 1 December 2005

The Ferns Report 
by Francis Murphy, Helen Buckley and Laraine Joyce.
Government Publications, 271 pp., €6, October 2005, 0 7557 7299 7
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... programme about new films. One night, without any warning, it showed the naked fight scene between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in Women in Love. I was pretty interested in the clip, but I knew to keep quiet afterwards. Modesty was a primary virtue at the school: there were doors on each shower and we all slept in cubicles. In the debating society everything was ...

The Voice from the Hearth-Rug

Alan Ryan: The Cambridge Apostles, 28 October 1999

The Cambridge Apostles 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life 
by W.C. Lubenow.
Cambridge, 458 pp., £35, October 1998, 0 521 57213 4
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... The Apostles – the semi-secret society that George Tomlinson (a future Bishop of Gibraltar) and II of his friends at St John’s College, Cambridge founded in 1820 – occupies a distinctive niche in British social mythology. Or, rather, it occupies several niches, according to the taste of the mythologiser. In the eyes of many of its members, looking back in later years on the friendships of their youth, it represented human relationships at their most perfect ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2016, 5 January 2017

... him away. How long after this it was that Bowie had his breakthrough I’m not sure.15 January. Alan Rickman dies. In the first week of The Habit of Art at the National in 2009 Michael Gambon, playing Auden, was taken ill and rushed to St Thomas’s. He recovered quite quickly, and indeed got out of the ambulance saying: ‘I know what they’re all doing ...

Parkinson Lobby

Alan Rusbridger, 17 November 1983

... life had openly censured Mr Cecil Parkinson and suggested he should resign: two Tory MPs, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Mayor of Potters Bar. Ranged against this lone and motley quartet were the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, most of Fleet Street, 70 Tory MPs, 62 per cent of the British public, Bernard ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Hating Football, 27 June 2002

... a Rangers game. My uncle was distressed. He called me a Blue Nose to my face (strong words for a bishop) and when we arrived at the ground he made me walk behind him. He said that if Rangers scored and I made a noise he would throw me to the Animals (the stand in Celtic Park where men peed and drank Bovril was affectionately known as the Jungle). When Celtic ...

Burke and Smith

Karl Miller, 16 October 1980

Sydney Smith 
by Alan Bell.
Oxford, 250 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 812050 8
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Burke and Hare 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 300 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 904919 27 7
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... England and Ireland. The books can be said to stand at opposite ends of a spectrum of emotion. Alan Bell’s is cool, elegant, efficient, eminently printable, while the other smacks of excitement, adrenalin, and of an oral tradition. Smith is present in the Burke book, as an ideological partner of the Whig advocates who were briefed in the legal ...

Reproaches from the Past

Peter Clarke: Gordon Brown, 1 April 2004

The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown 
by William Keegan.
Wiley, 356 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 470 84697 6
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... as well as ambition, with a premium on stealth as well as wealth. When Nigel, nephew of Roger, bishop of Salisbury, took on the job in 1126 (or thereabouts) he was simply called ‘the treasurer’. He resigned when made bishop of Ely in 1133 – not the sort of career progression to be expected these days. But the ...


Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... the boy is later released. The ludicrous Mr Kenneth Baker blames the Church, and in particular the Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, probably because he’s the only socialist in sight.22 February. A large crowd gathers outside Bootle Magistrates Court, to jeer as the vans carrying the two ten-year-olds accused of the toddler’s murder are driven away. One ...

The Prisoner of Spandau

Alan Milward, 7 August 1986

My Father Rudolf Hess 
by Wolf Rüdiger Hess, translated by Fred Crowley.
W.H. Allen, 414 pp., £14.95, March 1986, 0 491 03772 4
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Long Knives and Short Memories: The Spandau Prison Story 
by Jack Fishman.
Souvenir, 474 pp., £15.95, June 1986, 0 285 62688 4
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Zwangssterilisation im Nationalsozialismus: Studien zur Rassenpolitik und Frauenpolitik 
by Gisela Bock.
Westdeutscher Verlag, 494 pp., April 1986, 3 531 11759 9
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Prelude to Genocide: Nazi Ideology and the Struggle for Power 
by Simon Taylor.
Duckworth, 228 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 0 7156 1872 5
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... on which the Soviet Union seems seriously to have considered releasing him was in 1974 when the Bishop of Berlin suggested that he be replaced by an anti-Fascist museum designed and operated by the same four powers who run the gaol. Hess has been alone since October 1966. In that month his last two companions, the former Nazi armaments minister Albert ...

Let’s to billiards

Stephen Walsh: Constant Lambert, 22 January 2015

Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 584 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 1 84383 898 2
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... musical heritage. Among the members of his own circle, composers such as Peter Warlock, Alan Rawsthorne, Berners, even to some extent Walton have faded well beyond their worth. Lloyd plainly considers Lambert a significant composer, but he doesn’t argue the case in any very material or persuasive way, and he hardly even attempts to locate ...

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