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Thomas Jones: Radio 3’s ‘X Factor’

14 July 2011
... The contributions they’ve made so far to Night Waves have been interesting enough (and must have boosted their ‘impact’ ratings no end), but then these particular academics are hardly obscure. AlexandraHarris (‘A Brief History of Being Cold: Journeys through English Art and the Elements’) won last year’s Guardian First Book Award; Rachel Hewitt (‘Britain in the 1790s: The Age of Despair ...

Bright Blue Dark Blue

Rosemary Hill: ‘Weatherland’

5 November 2015
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 432 pp., £24.95, September 2015, 978 0 500 51811 3
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... of light and temperature, the stuff of art and conversation, weather would seem to be a relatively late development. Seasons, the overarching and background reality of life, are older, although as AlexandraHarris explains, ‘spring’ was invented only in the late Middle Ages. Before all that there was just climate and what people thought about it is all but unknowable. In the temperate zones, where ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot

3 February 2011
Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... of clerical cut’ ever put his hand to a pitchfork, the incident has gone unreported. And yet in Romantic Moderns, her provocative critical survey of English cultural life between 1930 and 1945, AlexandraHarris points to Eliot’s lines in ‘East Coker’ about ‘Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth/Mirth of those long since under earth/Nourishing the corn.’ Harris argues that the poet ...

Just William

Doris Grumbach

25 June 1987
Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... of eight and 15. It was in these years, riding the prairie on her pony, that she acquired the material for her fine works on Nebraska. We know of her adolescent years before college from ‘Old Mrs Harris’, a story published much later in Obscure Destinies. It reflects the poignant discontent of Victoria (the young Willa), living too close to the crowded miseries of an always-pregnant mother, an ...


Janet Todd

21 December 1989
Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up 
by Hermione Lee.
Virago, 409 pp., £12.99, October 1989, 0 86068 661 2
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... cropped her hair and adopted male dress. In due course her father borrowed money to enable her to become a student at Lincoln University. Much of this early life is caught in a late story ‘Old Mrs Harris’, tapes of which are used to accompany the modern pilgrim round the Cather shrine. At University she settled into literature when a teacher published a paper of hers on Carlyle in the Nebraska ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan

7 June 2018
... the stories are hard to bear. The Shawos, who lost sight of their five-year-old son in the black density; his body was later recovered from the 13th floor. Victoria King, who was 71, and her daughter Alexandra Atala, on the 20th floor, never made it out. Anthony Disson, 65, a former bin man and Fulham fan, left it very late before trying to get out of his flat. ‘We used to go “totting” together ...

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