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No wonder it ached

Dinah Birch: George Eliot, 13 May 1999

The Journals of George Eliot 
edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston.
Cambridge, 447 pp., £55, February 1999, 0 521 57412 9
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George Eliot: The Last Victorian 
by Kathryn Hughes.
Fourth Estate, 384 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 85702 420 6
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... her own name? One reason is that it has never been quite clear what it was. She began life as Mary Anne Evans, daughter of Robert Evans, a sturdy and prosperous land agent in Warwickshire. But Mary Anne sounds rather like a servant’s name (the White Rabbit’s housemaid is called Mary Ann). As the rising fortunes of the ...


Anne Enright: Looking at the Wallpaper, 2 January 1997

... it is the colour of writer’s block. I look out the window and at the keyboard and try to avoid a Barton Fink. What is the difference between a pattern and a story, I wonder, as paragraphs repeat and strain for change, like the unsuccessful mutation zigzagging the walls; flowers held monstrous in stasis, trying to stop being flowers and start just being ...

A Dreame of Passion

Barbara Everett: Shakespeare’s Most Peculiar Play, 2 January 2003

... pursue Like Rats that ravyn down their proper Bane, A thirsty evill, and when we drinke, we die. Anne Barton has remarked, slightly bitterly, that ‘much of the action takes place in a prison’: and certainly the shadow of bars is all a workable set really requires. The prison is a real place, city-like, full of all the ‘great doers of our ...

The Unlikeliest Loophole

Eamon Duffy: Catherine of Aragon, 28 July 2011

Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen 
by Giles Tremlett.
Faber, 458 pp., £9.99, April 2011, 978 0 571 23512 4
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... had to learn to turn a smiling face on their fading personal idyll. In 1527, the bombshell fell. Anne Boleyn, a pert young Frenchified Norfolk girl, trained to royal service in Brussels and Paris, had returned to England in 1521 and become a notable presence at the English court. Her married sister, Mary, was already one of Henry’s mistresses. He now fell ...

How do we know her?

Hilary Mantel: The Secrets of Margaret Pole, 2 February 2017

Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower 
by Susan Higginbotham.
Amberley, 214 pp., £16.99, August 2016, 978 1 4456 3594 1
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... was no longer, though, the sort of influence Henry wished for his daughter. After his marriage to Anne Boleyn and the birth of their daughter, Elizabeth, Mary was sent to join the household of the infant princess. There, she was surrounded by connections of the Boleyn queen. Margaret was superfluous; curtly, Henry wrote her off as a fool. If he had trusted ...

Gentlemen Travellers

Denis Donoghue, 18 December 1986

Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... now. People were scoffing chicken liver pâté with walnuts and knocking back Château Langoa-Barton at £22.50 a bottle. They were not hushed. Their boisterous gold-card voices rang out over the tables, and they talked in the new slang of space and computers. ‘We have lift-off on the Swanley deal ... ’ ‘I find the Volvo pretty user-friendly ...


Alethea Hayter, 14 September 1989

Frances Burney: The Life in the Works 
by Margaret Anne Doody.
Cambridge, 441 pp., £30, April 1989, 9780521362580
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... to her ‘proper station’ as an earl’s daughter. A comparison with, say, Mrs Gaskell’s Mary Barton reveals the slenderness of real social concern in Fanny Burney’s novels. It is only possible to see her as a ‘Jacobin’ by ignoring the evidence of her journals and letters, in which she does indeed show humanitarian concern for individual ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... the man and the nature of his faith is his weeping for joy on hearing the prophecy of Elizabeth Barton, the nun of Kent, that if Henry were to marry Anne, he would not remain king for long. Once Fisher and More and a handful of public opponents had been crushed, Henry proceded to dissolve the monasteries, and to attack ...

Doctor in the Dock

Stephen Sedley, 20 October 1994

Medical Negligence 
edited by Michael Powers and Nigel Harris.
Butterworth, 1188 pp., £155, July 1994, 0 406 00452 8
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... capacity for everything from paternalism to gross error. As Sir Henry Brooke (a judge) and Anthony Barton (a doctor and solicitor) point out in their chapter on consent to treatment, the stance adopted by any legal system at any point of time represents a choice, spoken or unspoken, between paternalism and consumerism. But while they rightly suggest that most ...

A Day’s Work

Joanna Biggs: Reports from the Workplace, 9 April 2015

... is being trailed around the building by an old white sheepdog and a young black Labrador. Mary Barton, Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1848 novel about industrial Manchester, begins with the disappearance of Mary’s aunt Esther, who has fallen in love with an army officer and become pregnant by him. When the officer disappears and their daughter falls ill, Esther ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... He lists his profession as ‘sculptor’. I could discover, too, that he had married Mary Anne Beirne two years earlier, and that they now had a baby son, also called John. Mary Anne was the eldest daughter of the local butcher, who was the Beegans’ neighbour on Dunlo Hill. Beegan married up; the Beirne family ...

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