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Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior

12 March 2009
The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony​ Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... of 1815, a tariff on imports designed to subsidise the British farmer – and campaigned for peace and disarmament, cheap newspapers and the penny post. He is a worthy subject for canonisation. Anthony Howe’s comprehensive, erudite and superbly annotated edition of his correspondence will take its place alongside Gladstone’s diaries, the letters of Carlyle and Disraeli, and John Stuart Mill’s ...

Baffled at a Bookcase

Alan Bennett: My Libraries

28 July 2011
... have been read in such grisly and uncongenial circumstances. It wasn’t long, though, before we ended up going back to Leeds where we now lived in Headingley, with the local public library on North Lane, a visit to which could be combined with seeing the film at the Lounge cinema opposite. I went to Leeds Modern School, a state school at Lawnswood (and now called Lawnswood). I spoke there a few ...
18 December 1980
John Betjeman’s Collected Poems 
compiled by the Earl of Birkenhead.
Murray, 427 pp., £2.50, June 1980, 0 7195 3632 4
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Church Poems 
by John Betjeman.
Murray, 63 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 7195 3797 5
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... In Anthony Burgess’s latest novel, Earthly Powers, there is a parody of a Betjeman poem. Thus kneeling at the altar rail We ate the word’s white papery wafer. Here, so I thought, desire must fail, My ...


Robert Irwin: Pinball and Despair

7 July 1994
... lion gules). ‘Black Knight’, a Williams machine, was one of the classic games of the Eighties. It had a playfield on two levels, connected by ramps and a mystery score activated by a bonus lane. The Black Knight’s voice used to issue out from somewhere behind the backglass, challenging you to further combat. The ‘Black Knight’ is a collector’s piece now, but if I could find one of ...

The Vicar of Chippenham

Christopher Haigh: Religion and the life-cycle

15 October 1998
Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 641 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 19 820168 0
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... Poor Agnes Bowker of Market Harborough, deserted by Randall Dowley and Hugh Brady, blamed a monster for her pregnancy in 1569 and claimed to have given birth to a cat. The champion cad was Francis Lane, who in 1608 promised to marry Rose Arnold, got her pregnant, tried to push her down a well and claimed another man was the father. Rose ‘wandered up and down in Northamptonshire until I was ...

Baring his teeth

Peter Clarke

25 June 1992
The Macmillans: The Story of a Dynasty 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 370 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 17502 1
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... On 10 January 1957 the momentous news reached the family publishing house in St Martin’s Lane. ‘Mr Macmillan has just been made prime minister,’ his elder brother Daniel was told by an excited secretary. ‘No, “Mr Macmillan” has not been made prime minister,’ the chairman corrected ...
19 October 1995
À la Pym: The Barbara Pym Cookery Book 
by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt.
Prospect, 102 pp., £9.95, September 1995, 0 907325 61 0
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... 1977 Philip Larkin came to lunch at Barbara Pym’s cottage in Finstock, near Oxford. She and her sister had only been living there a short while, after Pym’s retirement from her post in Fetter Lane as assistant editor of Africa; and it was Larkin’s first and, as it turned out, his only visit. After her years in the wilderness, Pym’s novel Quartet in Autumn had at last been accepted for ...

A Long Forgotten War

Jenny Diski: Sheila Rowbotham

6 July 2000
Promise of a Dream: A Memoir of the 1960s 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Allen Lane, 262 pp., £18.99, July 2000, 0 7139 9446 0
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... the Ox is Oppression’ with ‘I disagree with you 100 per cent,’ she couldn’t face the next discussion on her paper ‘Cinderella Organises Buttons’. She cowered in the pub lavatory to escape Anthony Barnett, who had been detailed by the board to fetch her, while he stood outside demanding that she come out and discuss her article ‘rationally and politically’. A week later the board received ...

Taking sides

Karl Miller

17 April 1980
W.H. Auden: The Life of a Poet 
by Charles Osborne.
Eyre Methuen, 336 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 413 39670 3
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... that it is biased towards the less rewarding half of Auden’s life. Among the best things in the earlier chapters is a dry telling of the story of his temporary devotion to the theories of Homer Lane and ‘Loony’ Layard:  Refusal to make use of one’s creative powers could lead to cancer. Stubbornness found physical expression as stiffness of the joints, the deaf and the blind were ...


Peter Clarke: True or False?

16 August 1990
... Bevin said of the Labour Party’s relations with the Soviet Union: ‘Left can speak to Left.’ 4. Nye Bevan called Hugh Gaitskell ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. 5. Rab Butler said: ‘Sir Anthony Eden is the best prime minister we have.’ 6. Harold Macmillan campaigned in the 1959 Election on the slogan: ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ 7. Edward Heath gave his word to ‘cut rising ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban

23 July 1987
Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... We met each other once, that’s all,Nearly twenty years ago.We were not close and yet I knowHis death-day stretched beneath a pallOf melancholy that would leaveSomething of its gloom behind ...Or Anthony Thwaite:Now what you feared so long has got you too.The blankness has descended where you lieDeep in that building you already knew ...Or Steve Ellis:Hull was the global meridianall poetry was ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case

19 October 2006
Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... her own way as an actress. She played a leading role in the West End aged 15, and before long went to Hollywood. Back in England she fell ‘instantly’ in love with the 33-year-old film producer Anthony Havelock-Allan, marrying him three years later. They had two sons; the older one had Down’s syndrome and the other is a judge. She never criticised Havelock-Allan, but David, evidently rightly ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett

24 June 1993
... upon the honesty and integrity’ of the investigating officers that ‘it would not be right for the Crown to contend that the conviction of any appellant was either safe or satisfactory.’ Lord Lane, the Lord Chief Justice, went further. Delivering the court’s judgment, he said that ‘the officers must have lied,’ and that ‘if they were prepared to tell this sort of lie, then the whole of ...

‘A Naughty House’

Charles Nicholl: Shakespeare’s Landlord

24 June 2010
... of one sort and another. I count a dozen cases, including that of the three Frenchmen, in this category. Among them are Susan Browne, ‘taken in bed with a Scotsman in a common bawdy house’; Anthony Horne, tailor, ‘locked up in a shed in Chiswell Street with Margery Blague in the night, and apprehended by the constable’; Henry Manne, gentleman, ‘complained to be a very disordered fellow ...

‘A Being full of Witching’

Charles Nicholl: The ‘poor half-harlot’ of Hazlitt’s affections

18 May 2000
... before midnight on 11 November 1800. She was the second of six children – four girls, two boys – of Micaiah Walker, tailor, and his wife Martha, née Hilditch. The family was of Dorset origin: Anthony Walker, Sarah’s grandfather, was born in Lyme Regis. In religion they were Nonconformists. In 1816, they moved into a large, rambling and probably rather scruffy house, 9 Southampton Buildings ...

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