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2 May 1985
Letters of Dorothy Wordsworth: A Selection 
edited by Alan Hill.
Oxford, 200 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 19 818539 1
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Dorothy Wordsworth 
by Robert Gittings and Jo Manton.
Oxford, 318 pp., £12.50, March 1985, 0 19 818519 7
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The Pedlar, Tintern Abbey, The Two-Part Prelude 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Cambridge, 76 pp., £7.95, January 1985, 0 521 26526 6
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The Ruined Cottage, The Brothers, Michael 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Cambridge, 82 pp., £7.95, January 1985, 0 521 26525 8
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... are strangely devoid of any personal note, while Dorothy’s could only have been written by her. Alan Hill, who is editing the new complete edition of William’s and Dorothy’s letters, has made a selection of her letters that reads like a narrative, and follows her from the dependent state as orphan with the Cooksons at Penrith to the premature onset ...
4 September 1997
... its green fields and dulled the burnish of its woods! After lunch we turned west, climbed the hill again through the hedges of wild rose, past gardens scented with mock-orange, stocks and lilacs – the scents were heavily intoxicating everywhere – and then dropped down through the woods to another Evenlode reach and an old stone bridge where the cattle ...
7 July 1988
Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... Victorian architecture, but the verse of Philip Bourke Marston or that of Ebepezer Jones (whom Mr Hillier, by an un-Betjemanian slip, confounds with Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn Law Rhymer). In such matters it was good and original pedagogy to be droll. To be so on the subject of the extremely upper classes may seem less useful. They evidently caused him to ...

At Sotheby’s

Rosemary Hill: Debo’s Bibelots

17 March 2016
... the cups and saucers, the well-worn chintz, table lamps and signed copies of the works of Alan Titchmarsh. Anyone hoping for crumbs from the great collections at Chatsworth was disappointed. This was the contents of the duchess’s final home, a former vicarage in the estate village of Edensor, which was built in the 1830s to be solid and ...
24 January 1980
Lord Cockburn: A Bicentenary Commemoration 
edited by Alan Bell.
Scottish Academic Press, 204 pp., £6, December 1980, 0 7073 0245 5
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... world of new styles in politics and architecture: the First he held with, the second deplored. As Alan Bell remarks, Cockburn’s ‘experience was almost exclusively Scottish’, yet one journey abroad, a Classical education and the experience of Scotland in its greatest days of self-esteem, when it could be believed that the answers to the social and moral ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1983

16 February 1984
... house. 8 February, Dundee. A day off from filming An Englishman Abroad and I go to Edinburgh with Alan Bates. We climb the tower near the castle to see the Camera Obscura. The texture of the revolving bowl and the softness of the reflection convert the view into an 18th-century aquatint, in which motor-cars seem as delicate and exotic as sedan chairs. The ...

Lawful Charm

Donald Davie

6 July 1995
Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, edited by Andrew Motion.
Penguin, 171 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 0 14 042379 6
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Selected Poems 
by William Barnes, read by Alan Chedzoy.
Canto, £6.99
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... on,      And warn me of the time that’s gone. Or where I found thy yellow bed Below the hill-borne fir-tree’s head, And heard the whistling east wind blow Above, while wood-screen’d down below I rambled in the spring-day’s glow   And watch’d the low-ear’d hares up spring   From cover, and the birds take wing.      Come winter ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don

8 May 1986
... the most famous historian in the world. I was not long to think of him by his initials, for Alan was the least standoffish of the senior fellows, the least likely to stand on his dignity. He loved talking – and being listened to. One could safely bring any guest to dinner and place them near him. They would be bound to come away delighted with a ...

The Limit

Rosemary Hill

2 November 1995
Christopher Wood: An English Painter 
by Richard Ingleby.
Allison and Busby, 295 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 85031 849 1
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Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 343 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 670 84203 6
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... they set off in pursuit of the same, ultimately elusive, ideal. It was Hepworth’s son-in-law, Alan Bowness, who wrote (in The Conditions of Success: How the Modern Artist Rises to Fame) that ‘there is a general supposition even among the educated public that there is something arbitrary about artistic success.’ Neither Wood nor Hepworth suffered such ...

Awkward Bow

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Geoffrey Hill

6 March 2003
The Orchards of Syon 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 72 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 14 100991 8
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... The first poem of For the Unfallen (1958), Geoffrey Hill’s first book, was entitled ‘Genesis’. It declared: By blood we live, the hot, the cold, To ravage and redeem the world: There is no bloodless myth will hold. Hot blood is at the heart of Hill’s theological, oppositional poetics ...

Into the Dark

Kathleen Jamie: A Winter Solstice

18 December 2003
... was eight in the morning and Venus was hanging like a wrecker’s light above the Black Craig. The hill itself – seen from our kitchen window – was still in silhouette, though the sky was lightening to a pale yellow-grey. It was a weakling light, stealing into the world like a thief through a window someone forgot to close. The talk was all of Christmas ...

Fallen Language

Donald Davie

21 June 1984
The Lords of Limit: Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Deutsch, 203 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 233 97581 0
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... to be innocent, a thunderclap of unheralded revelation. These reflections are prompted by Geoffrey Hill’s formidably erudite and compacted essay, ‘Our Word is Our Bond’, which reappears now in The Lords of Limit, a volume which, it must be said, in everything from format to price does very great credit to the publishers. This particular essay has ...
22 June 1989
The Whitelaw Memoirs 
by William Whitelaw.
Aurum, 280 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 1 85410 028 9
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... to the Scottish major’s lecture on the Spirit of the Bayonet: Afterwards I went up the hill to my favorite sanctuary, a wood of hazels and beeches. The evening air smelt of wet mould and wet leaves; the trees were misty green; the church bell was tolling in the town, and smoke rose from the roofs. Peace was there in the twilight ... But the ...

Snob Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Modern Snobbery

3 November 2016
... whose Book of Snobs appeared in 1848, and George Orwell – he has written biographies of both. Alan Bennett, who has the finest antennae for social nuance, is absent. So is Muriel Spark whose short story, ‘You Should Have Seen the Mess’, is a forensic analysis of the subject. It is narrated by a woman who has based every decision in her life on ...
17 November 1983
The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill and John Lawrence.
Hamish Hamilton, 160 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 241 10987 6
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Legion 
by William Peter Blatty.
Collins, 252 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 00 222735 5
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The Lost Flying Boat 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 288 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 246 12236 6
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Snow, and Other Stories 
by Antony Lambton.
Quartet, 134 pp., £6.95, September 1983, 0 7043 2407 5
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New Islands, and Other Stories 
by Maria Luisa Bombal, translated by Richard Cunningham, Lucia Cunningham and Jorge Luis Borges.
Faber, 112 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 571 12052 0
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The Antarctica Cookbook 
by Crispin Kitto.
Duckworth, 190 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7156 1762 1
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Sole Survivor 
by Maurice Gee.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 571 13017 8
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... development of an exquisite suspense, preparing the reader for the decisive point at which the balance of belief and disbelief could be tipped – ever so slightly – in favour of the impossible fictional world. What has happened since the 1960s is that the true ghost story has been overhauled by its bastard brother, the horror story. Discreet, poetic ...

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