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Prince Arthur

Paul Addison

21 August 1980
by Max Egremont.
Collins, 391 pp., £12.95, June 1980, 0 00 216043 9
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... There have been aristocrats in British politics since Arthur Balfour. But the career of ‘Prince Arthur’ was the last great expression of the old aristocratic system before it crashed. In the late 19th century a flourishing grapevine of wealthy and leisured families still clambered in profusion around the House of Commons and the Cabinet ...

Brideshead Revered

David Cannadine

17 March 1983
The Country House 
by James Lees-Milne.
Oxford, 110 pp., £4.50, November 1982, 0 19 214139 2
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English Country Houses and Landed Estates 
by Heather Clemenson.
Croom Helm, 244 pp., £15.95, July 1982, 0 85664 987 2
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The Last Country Houses 
by Clive Aslet.
Yale, 344 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 300 02904 7
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... gravel, two great charms’. To judge from such opinions, contemporaries like Horace Walpole and Arthur Young would have regarded the present cult of the country house with amazement and incredulity. Moreover, the life which was actually lived within their walls emerges as far from beguiling. Most country houses were cold, gloomy, eerie, filthy, smelly ...
20 August 1981
The French Revolution and the Poor 
by Alan Forrest.
Blackwell, 198 pp., £12.50, May 1981, 0 631 10371 6
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... numerous. All countries in pre-industrial Europe were, of course, poor by modern standards, but Arthur Young, who knew France well, thought that, with the possible exception of a few favoured areas, it was much poorer than England: ‘it reminded me of the poverty of Ireland.’ Agricultural productivity in France was only about half that across the ...

Dangerously Amiable

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal: Lafayette Reconsidered

16 February 2017
The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered 
by Laura Auricchio.
Vintage, 432 pp., £11.99, August 2015, 978 0 307 38745 5
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... disobedience. In America, Lafayette attached himself to George Washington, who appreciated the young man’s companionship, bravery and money. Though Lafayette was a general in name, his role in the army initially had little to do with actual fighting. When the signing of a Franco-American alliance in 1778 brought thousands of French soldiers and sailors ...

Act like Men, Britons!

Tom Shippey: Celticity

31 July 2008
The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth, edited by Michael Reeve, translated by Neil Wright.
Boydell, 307 pp., £50, November 2007, 978 1 84383 206 5
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The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Broadview, 383 pp., £8.99, January 2008, 978 1 55111 639 6
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... The legend of King Arthur must be the most enduring legacy of the Middle Ages. Everyone knows it: children, scholars, readers of comic books, movie-makers. The scenes and motifs associated with it – Excalibur, the Round Table, the adultery of Guinevere, the return to Avalon – are more familiar than anything linked to real medieval kings ...

At Tate Britain

Nicholas Penny: Pre-Raphaelite works on paper

3 May 2017
... with fanatical Huguenots who are disentombing the body of Queen Matilda. This drawing by the young Millais is currently on display in an exhibition at Tate Britain of Pre-Raphaelite works on paper (until 7 May). The calculated confusion of rigid and angular figures, although it owes something to the medieval art cherished by the nuns (some examples of ...
22 June 2000
British Clubs and Societies 1580-1800: The Origins of an Associational World 
by Peter Clark.
Oxford, 516 pp., £60, January 2000, 0 19 820376 4
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... stunningly, had Benjamin Franklin, the Sanskrit scholar Sir William Jones and the agriculturalist Arthur Young among its corresponding members – that one-horse Kentish town boasted a humane society, assorted drinking and dining clubs, an agricultural society, concert and music societies, trapball and card societies, a book society, a cricket ...


Elisa Segrave: On the Pier at Key West

18 April 1996
... ago; we are swimming in light, reflected on the sea. Just off the beach are three camper vans. Two young men come out, smoking cigarettes, looking as though they slept in their clothes. Further along, in a little park, I see two policemen talking to a small group who look as though they slept in the park. This reminds me again of my stay here in 1977, when the ...


Theo Tait: Beyond the Barnes persona

1 September 2005
Arthur & George 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 360 pp., £17.99, July 2005, 0 224 07703 1
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... dazzle and bemuse the reader throughout with the knowledge and reminder that this is a very clever young person writing a very clever and witty novel’. The most obvious manifestation of this is the unmistakable Barnes narrator, wheeling out a curious fact or historical anecdote, and treating us every few lines to a wry aperçu or humorous sally or teasing ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants

2 November 2000
... and the economy. Not so many know how much power they wield over the Government. The story of Arthur Andersen, and its burgeoning power, is especially interesting. Arthur Andersen is a proud survivor of the stampede of top accountancy firms to sue each other for alleged negligence in auditing and handling the accounts ...

Oh, you clever people!

Tom Crewe: The Unrelenting Bensons

19 April 2017
A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain 
by Simon Goldhill.
Chicago, 337 pp., £24.50, October 2016, 978 0 226 39378 0
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... Arthur Benson​ never stopped dreaming about his father. Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, dropped dead saying the Confession in 1896 – he sank onto his prayer cushion and didn’t get up again – but nearly twenty years later his son found him crouched in the cupboard under the stairs, dressed in his purple cassock and playing with some toys: ‘Papa … giggled; then he said: “But now that you have found me out, you must run down here as often as you can, and we will have a good game at something – You don’t know what fun it is ...

So Much Smoke

Tom Shippey: King Arthur

20 December 2018
King Arthurthe Making of the Legend 
by Nicholas Higham.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 21092 7
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... Modern academic historians​ want nothing to do with King Arthur. ‘There is no historical evidence about Arthur; we must reject him from our histories and, above all, from the titles of our books,’ David Dumville wrote in 1977; and he was backed up by, for instance, J.N.L. Myres in 1986: ‘No figure on the borderline of history and mythology has wasted more of the historian’s time ...


Hugh Honour

13 November 1997
A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800 
compiled by John Ingamells.
Yale, 1070 pp., £50, May 1997, 0 300 07165 5
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... Naples (Sir William Hamilton). There were political refugees, notably Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, and his brother, the Cardinal Duke of York (who was born in Rome and left only once to go to Paris in 1745 and prepare to go to England should the rebellion be successful). Many Jacobites had followed them and some may have ‘pined by ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr

8 February 2018
Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... For​ close to half a century, Arthur Schlesinger Jr was perhaps the most recognisable liberal intellectual in America. With his tortoiseshell glasses, bow ties, and neatly stencilled hair, he played for the literary side of Kennedy’s best and brightest, which was meant to balance out the number-crunching prowess of Robert McNamara and the Whiz Kids ...

Gaol Fever

David Saunders-Wilson

24 July 1986
Prisons and the Process of Justice 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 217 pp., £5.95, June 1986, 0 19 281932 1
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Growing out of Crime: Society and Young People in Trouble 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Penguin, 189 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 022383 5
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... acceptable, at least within the confines of our television sets, and as a result perhaps beyond. Arthur Daley and his ‘Minder’, for example, are commonly regarded as harmless, comic, lovable folk heroes, who can be forgiven even if they do sometimes wander onto the wrong side of the law, and get in trouble with ‘the Bill’. Indeed, both George Cole ...

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