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Mother Country

Catherine Hall: The Hostile Environment

13 January 2020
The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment 
by Amelia Gentleman.
Guardian Faber, 336 pp., £18.99, September 2019, 978 1 78335 184 8
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Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation 
by Colin Grant.
Cape, 320 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 78733 105 1
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Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Become Scapegoats 
by Maya Goodfellow.
Verso, 272 pp., £12.99, November 2019, 978 1 78873 336 6
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... that was the wording on the landing cards destroyed by the Home Office in 2010. Paulette Wilson, Hubert Howard and the many others whose shocking stories are told in The Windrush Betrayal by AmeliaGentleman, the journalist whose investigations led to the uncovering of the scandal, came in on their parents’ British passports: from the moment of emancipation in 1834, freed men and women became ...

Big Head

John Sutherland

23 April 1987
Thackeray’s Universe: Shifting Worlds of Imagination and Reality 
by Catherine Peters.
Faber, 292 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 571 14711 9
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... had in the last nine years, taking its place alongside Anne Monsarrat’s Thackeray: Uneasy Victorian (1980) and Margaret Forster’s sprightly ‘autobiography’, Thackeray: Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman (1978). (Rather meanly, Peters leaves both competitors out of her ‘Select Bibliography’.) All three are, self-confessedly, dwarfed by the late Gordon Ray’s authoritative two-volume biography ...


Amanda Vickery: Vauxhall Gardens

7 February 2013
Vauxhall Gardens: A History 
by Alan Borg and David Coke.
Yale, 473 pp., £55, June 2011, 978 0 300 17382 6
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... 18th century. Addison and Steele had their loveable curmudgeon Sir Roger de Coverley harrumph that he would be a better customer if Vauxhall offered more nightingales and fewer strumpets. A Virginian gentleman called William Byrd was matter of fact about the amenities in June 1718: We went to Spring Gardens where we picked up two women and carried them into the arbour and ate some cold veal and about 10 o ...


Stephen Fender

3 April 1980
The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... otherwise, of their transplanting. The common view of Bret Harte – the chronicler of the California Gold Rush who cut himself off from the primacy of his Western experience when he turned English gentleman – is convincingly undermined by this book. He kept writing stories set in the Wild West, but they were far from the hack work so derided by contemporary ‘Westerners’ like Mark Twain. In England ...

Shuffling off

John Sutherland

18 April 1985
Death Sentences: Styles of Dying in British Fiction 
by Garrett Stewart.
Harvard, 403 pp., £19.80, December 1984, 0 674 19428 4
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Forms of Feeling in Victorian Fiction 
by Barbara Hardy.
Owen, 215 pp., £12.50, January 1985, 9780720606119
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Language and Class in Victorian England 
by K.C. Phillipps.
Basil Blackwell in association with Deutsch, 190 pp., £19.50, November 1984, 0 631 13689 4
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... sometimes does. Thackeray, more often than not, sets his action decades before the time at which he is writing. When, therefore, in Chapter Two of Vanity Fair, an officer of the Life Guards calls Amelia ‘a dem fine gal, egad!’ is Thackeray recalling the military speech and accent of 1813, or reflecting that of 1847? Phillipps assumes – wrongly, I think – that this is current Victorian usage ...

Why can’t she just do as she ought?

Michael Newton: ‘Gone with the Wind’

6 August 2009
Frankly, My Dear: ‘Gone with the Wind’ Revisited 
by Molly Haskell.
Yale, 244 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 11752 3
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... only by his sense of honour. Her third husband is a more serious contender for her love: Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) is Scarlett’s male counterpart, just as devious, just as heated. He’s no gentleman, but then she’s no lady. Beguiled by Ashley, dismissive of sexual desire and apparently hostile to the idea of motherhood, Scarlett resists him. These passions play out through the apocalypse of ...

The Reptile Oculist

John Barrell: On the trail of the mysterious John Taylor

1 April 2004
... name was Roberts. That is the man, the caller said, and he is now in Newgate. His curiosity aroused, Phillips walked over to Newgate and asked for Taylor at the Felon’s Gate. He was told that ‘Gentleman Taylor’ was staying at Mr Kirby’s, and there Phillips found him. Taylor was amazed and relieved to hear that Phillips had not been subpoenaed by the defence to appear at Thelwall’s trial. But ...

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