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The Flight of a Clergyman’s Wife

Gareth Stedman Jones, 27 May 1993

Annie Besant: A Biography 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 383 pp., £25, April 1992, 0 19 211796 3
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... published in the early Sixties, another full-length study might need some justification. But Anne Taylor has compressed Besant’s inordinately eventful ‘lives’ into a managable book half the size of Nethercot and pulled the threads together into a single life. Both contemporaries and earlier biographers tended to divide Besant’s career into ...

Social Poetry

Anthony Pagden, 15 October 1987

Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times 
by Krishan Kumar.
Blackwell, 506 pp., £24.50, January 1987, 0 631 14873 6
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Lectures on Ideology and Utopia 
by Paul Ricoeur, edited by George Taylor.
Columbia, 353 pp., £21.90, December 1986, 0 231 06048 3
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Visions of Harmony: A Study in 19th-Century Millenarianism 
by Anne Taylor.
Oxford, 285 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 19 211793 9
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... world was as it had been in the beginning. For most, that meant America. Harmony, the subject of Anne Taylor’s excellent book, founded first by the Württemberg religious reformer George Rapp, and purchased in 1825 by the most celebrated of the new utopians, Robert Owen, whose ‘Villages of Unity and Mutual Co-operation’, where inequality, private ...

Clean Clothes

Rosalind Mitchison, 17 March 1988

Scottish Lifestyle 300 Years Ago 
by Helen Kelsall and Keith Kelsall.
John Donald, 224 pp., £10, September 1986, 0 85976 167 3
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Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 
by Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall.
Hutchinson, 576 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 09 164700 2
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A Lasting Relationship: Parents and Children over Three Centuries 
by Linda Pollock.
Fourth Estate, 319 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 947795 25 1
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... behave as women, paints a picture of their role very similar to that in the writings of Jane and Anne Taylor, Congregationalist in faith. Young girls, Charlotte Yonge thought, should not be able to reserve any time for their own private occupations, except that on Sunday afternoons they should be able to prepare for the Sunday school which they would ...


Barbara Taylor: My Mennonite Conversion, 2 June 2005

A Complicated Kindness 
by Miriam Toews.
Faber, 246 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 571 22400 8
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... room; religion was not to be discussed. So I was barely aware of these girls’ beliefs, until Anne Guenther arrived. Anne was a bright, good-natured woman, and I took to her immediately. I’d like to think that she also liked me, that something in my 11-year-old self attracted her apart from my spiritual ...

Dear Miss Boothby

Margaret Anne Doody, 5 November 1992

The Letters of Samuel Johnson: Vol. I: 1731-1772, Vol. II: 1773-1776, Vol. III: 1777-1781 
edited by Bruce Redford.
Oxford, 431 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 19 811287 4
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... intertwined with his. It would be helpful to have explanations of Lucy Porter, Hill Boothby, John Taylor and the Thrales, as major figures in Johnson’s life and letter-writing. The notes are self-referential in a cryptic way, with a delicately archaic use of ante and post; these are not as helpful as the editor thinks, for the reader who is reading straight ...

East Hoathly makes a night of it

Marilyn Butler, 6 December 1984

The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765 
edited by David Vaisey.
Oxford, 386 pp., £17.50, November 1984, 0 19 211782 3
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John Clare’s Autobiographical Writings 
edited by Eric Robinson.
Oxford, 185 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 19 211774 2
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John Clare: The Journals, Essays, and the Journey from Essex 
edited by Anne Tibble.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 85635 344 2
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The Natural History Prose Writings of John Clare 
edited by Margaret Grainger.
Oxford, 397 pp., £35, January 1984, 0 19 818517 0
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John Clare and the Folk Tradition 
by George Deacon.
Sinclair Browne, 397 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 86300 008 8
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... a second time, when a woman in the congregation forbade them. The poor girl, whose name was Anne Stevenson, declared that about three years ago she had a child by him, and that he had many times promised her marriage ..., and that he had kept her company so lately as Michaelmas last, and farther that she would be glad to be married to him at any ...

Preceding Backwardness

Margaret Anne Doody, 9 January 1992

Women’s Lives and the 18th-Century English Novel 
by Elizabeth Bergan Brophy.
University of South Florida Press, 291 pp., $29.95, April 1991, 0 8130 1036 5
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Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel 
by Ruth Bernard Yeazell.
Chicago, 306 pp., £19.95, August 1991, 0 226 95096 4
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... love without cause and obey without reason is amazing.’ The respectable and redoubtable Marthae Taylor wrote in 1736 to a suitor rejecting his offer of marriage, which she interprets as ‘the desire of being absolute master’ of herself and her fortune: ‘What? Shall I bribe high to enslave myself? Resign all and then cringe to my master’s purse for a ...

Wicked Converse

Keith Thomas: Bewitched by the Brickmaker, 12 May 2022

The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World 
by Malcolm Gaskill.
Allen Lane, 308 pp., £20, November 2021, 978 0 241 41338 8
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... last time that someone would come to grief after offending Parsons. Eighteen months on, Jonathan Taylor claimed to have been attacked in bed by three demonic snakes. He, too, suspected that this was the work of Parsons. Then Taylor started to have ‘fits’. Other accusers came forward. William Branch, a ...

One of the Cracked

Dinah Birch: Barbara Bodichon, 1 October 1998

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon: Feminist, Artist and Rebel 
by Pam Hirsch.
Chatto, 390 pp., £20, July 1998, 0 7011 6797 1
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... of Florence, who inherited a full share of the Smith resolve), he met a young milliner, Anne Longden. She was the daughter of a local miller, far beneath him in fortune and rank. He made her his mistress, and Barbara Leigh Smith was the first of the five children she bore him. He did not marry Anne. The more ...


Nicholas Spice, 7 February 1985

A Late Divorce 
by A.B. Yehoshua, translated by Hillel Halkin.
Harvill, 352 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 00 271448 5
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Machine Dreams 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Faber, 331 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 571 13398 3
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... corner is lit by the bright sunlight of an Israeli spring. This other world is the world of Jayne Anne Phillips’s Machine Dreams, a novel in which Yehuda and Naomi Kaminka would have been temperamentally much more at home. Like Yehoshua, Phillips shares out much of the responsibility for telling the story between her main characters. However, the narratives ...

The Dining-Room Table

Lucie Elven: Anne Serre sheds her armour, 21 April 2022

The Fool and Other Moral Tales 
by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson.
Les Fugitives, 228 pp., £10.99, June 2021, 978 1 8380141 5 5
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The Beginners 
by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson.
New Directions, 128 pp., $14.95, July 2021, 978 0 8112 3031 5
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... Anne Serre​ was ten when her mother died in 1971. She claims to have no memory of the preceding years. ‘My father sank into a depression,’ she told the White Review in 2020, ‘and my sisters and I … tried with all our might – like all children in this type of situation, I think – to protect him, resuscitate him ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... a painted-over figure, presumably a self-portrait. The order is thought to be, from left to right, Anne, Emily, Charlotte. Hassall compiled her scene from different sources: Patrick’s profile, with his distinctive high neckerchief (worn, we are told, because of his fear of bronchitis), was copied from a photograph taken late in his life, when all his ...


Graham Hough, 7 October 1982

Thomas Hardy: A Biography 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 637 pp., £15, June 1982, 0 19 211725 4
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. III: 1902-1908 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 367 pp., £19.50, July 1982, 0 19 812620 4
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The Neglected Hardy: Thomas Hardy’s Lesser Novels 
by Richard Taylor.
Macmillan, 202 pp., £17.50, May 1982, 0 333 31051 9
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Good Little Thomas Hardy 
by C.H. Salter.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 333 29387 8
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Thomas Hardy and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form 
by Penny Boumelha.
Harvester, 178 pp., £18.95, April 1982, 0 7108 0018 5
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Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy 
by Arlene Jackson.
Macmillan, 151 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 32303 3
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... enjoying an agreeable intimacy with the formidable Leslie Stephen and his charming sister-in-law, Anne Thackeray. In 1874, when Far from the Madding Crowd came out, he became famous, and shortly afterwards was hobnobbing with most of the intellectual leaders of the day, and a surpringly large number of the social notabilities as well. But Hardy, who had a ...

Principal Ornament

José Harris, 3 December 1992

G.M. Trevelyan: A life in History 
by David Cannadine.
HarperCollins, 288 pp., £18, September 1992, 0 00 215872 8
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... of Trevelyan’s historical writings over fifty years – Wycliffe, Garibaldi, the Stuarts, Queen Anne, Lord Grey of the Reform Bill, Grey of Falloden and above all the English Social History – not merely to recount the story of Trevelyan’s career, but to defend all aspects of his philosophy, style and historical method. In so doing, Cannadine plunges ...

Rather Break than Bend

Clare Jackson: The Winter Queen, 26 May 2022

Elizabeth Stuart: Queen of Hearts 
by Nadine Akkerman.
Oxford, 581 pp., £20, December 2021, 978 0 19 966830 4
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... youngest daughter, Sophia, Electress of Hanover, who stood to succeed her second cousin Queen Anne. In the end, Anne outlived Sophia by a couple of months, whereupon Elizabeth’s grandson Georg Ludwig became Britain’s first Hanoverian monarch, George I, in 1714.Akkerman is well-placed to write a Life of Elizabeth ...

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