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From culture to couture

Penelope Gilliatt, 21 February 1985

The ‘Vogue’ Bedside Book 
edited by Josephine Ross.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 09 158520 1
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The Art of Zandra Rhodes 
by Anne Knight and Zandra Rhodes.
Cape, 240 pp., £18, November 1984, 0 395 37940 7
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... There are three Vogues, published in New York, London and Paris. They are known to Condé Nast people as ‘Vogue’, ‘Brogue’ and ‘Frog’. Their characters have nothing in common. In order of hauteur, Frog is housed in an ambassadorial house in the Place du Palais Bourbon, and has long been edited by a handsome woman of diplomatic family, Edmonde Charles-Roux ...

Wholly Given Over to Thee

Anne Barton: Literary romance, 2 December 2004

The English Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare 
by Helen Cooper.
Oxford, 560 pp., £65, June 2004, 0 19 924886 9
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... Elizabethan play The Old Wives’ Tale, a character called Jack interrogates the ‘wandering knight’ Eumenides: ‘Are you not the man, sir (deny it if you can, sir) that came from a strange place in the land of Catita, where Jackanapes flies with his tail in his mouth, to seek out a lady as white as snow and as red as blood?’ Jack is dead. The ...

Docility Rampant

Margaret Anne Doody, 31 October 1996

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Romance Writings 
edited by Isobel Grundy.
Oxford, 276 pp., £14.50, August 1996, 0 19 812288 8
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... Trying to rejoin her estranged husband, Docile is captured by corsairs but delivered by the Knight of Malta, an accomplished libertine-philosopher who is pleased to find out that she is not a virgin: ‘Il faut un siècle pour les vaincre, et deux autres pour s’en defaire.’ We are learning to do without those ridiculous notions of Virtue, Honour and ...

None of it is your material

Madeleine Schwartz: What Zelda Did, 18 April 2019

Save Me the Waltz 
by Zelda Fitzgerald.
Handheld Press, 268 pp., £12.99, January 2019, 978 1 9998280 4 2
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... her cult is teeming with new acolytes. Christina Ricci just played her in an adaptation of Therese Anne Fowler’s Z (costumes were the real stars there, especially Ricci’s big brown merkin). Jennifer Lawrence has been linked to an upcoming biopic, as has Scarlett Johansson. Unusual biopics, of course, since they contend that it’s better to be remembered ...

Medieval Fictions

Stuart Airlie, 21 February 1985

Chivalry 
by Maurice Keen.
Yale, 303 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 300 03150 5
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The Rise of Romance 
by Eugène Vinaver.
Boydell, 158 pp., £12, February 1984, 0 85991 158 6
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War in the Middle Ages 
by Philippe Contamine, translated by Michael Jones.
Blackwell, 387 pp., £17.50, June 1984, 0 631 13142 6
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War and Government in the Middle Ages 
edited by John Gillingham and J.C. Holt.
Boydell, 198 pp., £25, July 1984, 0 85115 404 2
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Prussian Society and the German Order 
by Michael Burleigh.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £22.50, May 1984, 9780521261043
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... Few images from Medieval Europe are as familiar, or as potent, as that of the armoured knight on horseback, riding off in quest of adventure. It is an image that has inspired varied imaginative treatment down to our own times, in films like John Boorman’s vulgar and energetic epic Excalibur or Bresson’s stark, pessimistic Lancelot du Lac ...

‘I was such a lovely girl’

Barbara Newman: The Songs of the Medieval Troubadours, 25 May 2006

Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours 
translated by Ezra Pound, W.D. Snodgrass and Robert Kehew, edited by Robert Kehew.
Chicago, 280 pp., £35, May 2005, 0 226 42933 4
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Medieval Lyric: Middle English Lyrics, Ballads and Carols 
edited by John Hirsh.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.99, August 2004, 1 4051 1482 7
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An Anthology of Ancient and Medieval Woman’s Song 
edited by Anne Klinck.
Palgrave, 208 pp., £19.99, May 2004, 9781403963109
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... romance; the alba or dawn song (‘parting is such sweet sorrow’); the pastorela, in which a knight tries to seduce a shepherdess; the sirventes or protest song; and the tenso or debate poem, a genre favoured by the small but distinguished band of trobairitz or women poets. Of the translators, all poets, Ezra Pound is represented by 15 ...

Tatchell’s Testament

Anne Sofer, 22 December 1983

The Battle for Bermondsey 
by Peter Tatchell.
Heretic Books, 170 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 946097 11 9
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... in defying Conservative legislation. ‘Why should the workers obey Tory law?’ thundered Ted Knight to enthusiastic applause. Ever since, Gerald Kaufman, as Environment Spokesman, has been trying to forget it. The other important contribution the book makes is in describing, from the point of view of the victim, the experience of excessive press ...

The Limits of Chivalry

Caroline Weber: Courtly Love, 23 January 2014

Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France 
by Kathleen Wellman.
Yale, 433 pp., £30, July 2013, 978 0 300 17885 2
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... couple’s moral fibre by imposing on the man an ethos of chivalrous courtesy. When a lovestruck knight like Lancelot or Tristan pledged fealty to his lady, as a vassal would to a feudal lord, he undertook to serve her selflessly, asking for no recompense save the privilege of adoring her. Precisely because she belonged to another man, he had to sublimate ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... On​ their West Country progress in the summer of 1535, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited Thornbury Castle near Bristol. Thornbury is an upmarket hotel now, a popular choice for guests working through their bucket list. Now that every narrative is a ‘journey’, TripAdvisor is an illuminating guide to what people expect when they go in search of the past ...

Blush, grandeur, blush

Norma Clarke: One of the first bluestockings, 16 December 2004

Hannah More: The First Victorian 
by Anne Stott.
Oxford, 384 pp., £20, September 2004, 0 19 927488 6
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... success. She was ambitious for literary fame, and adored the theatre. Bouncy and excitable – Anne Stott describes her at the age of 18 as ‘a practised and persistent attention-seeker’ – she wrote pastoral verse drama for performance by schoolgirls and helped produce plays at Bristol’s Theatre Royal, but her sights were set on London. Quite how ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fashion photography, 23 September 2004

... make it look extraordinary was to find an unexpected location. In a 1940s photograph Parkinson has Anne Chambers, who models a tight-waisted suit, crocodile handbag and neat bonnet, standing in a grimy alley. She looks down at a toy pistol, doubtless the property of the street kids in the background; in another photograph the same kids, mounted on a ...

Whig Dreams

Margaret Anne Doody, 27 February 1992

A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain 
by Daniel Defoe, edited by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Yale, 423 pp., £19.95, July 1991, 0 300 04980 3
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James Thomson: A Life 
by James Sambrook.
Oxford, 332 pp., £40, October 1991, 0 19 811788 4
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... Elizabeth Young’; her brother-in-law thought her ‘a fine sensible woman’. Lady Philippina Knight left the following description: ‘Thomson was a very passionate man. It has been told me that his amiable Amanda ... and him one evening disagreeing, she pulled off his wig and threw it on the ground, and he threw a glass of punch at her; that she was a ...

The Fatness of Falstaff

Barbara Everett, 16 August 1990

... Orson Welles’s film, Chimes at Midnight, make a brilliant case, in different ways, for the old knight’s generous, even loving, even saintly cast of character. Yet these remarkable studies, like more recent writing with a radical stance (Greenblatt’s powerful essay, ‘Paper Bullets’, would be a case in point), do little to dislodge the intellectual ...

A Piece of Single Blessedness

John Burrows, 21 January 1988

Jane Austen: Her Life 
by Park Honan.
Weidenfeld, 452 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 297 79217 2
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... other members of her family and her circle of acquaintance. Those of Eliza de Feuillide and Fanny Knight (and the latter’s diaries), to which Park Honan draws attention, are of particular interest; and others like them may yet be found. The discovery of the play Sir Charles Grandison, or The Happy Man, the work of Jane Austen and her niece Anna, suggests ...

Turning Turk

Robert Blake, 20 August 1981

The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 241 10561 7
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... virulent, as well as being frequently obscene and licentious. The reigns of William III and Queen Anne were marked by intense political partisanship, and the language used in attacks on government and parliament provoked retaliation. The Stamp Duty Act of that year caused Swift to lament ‘that all Grub Street is ruined.’ This was an exaggeration. The ...

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