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The Buffalo in the Hall

Susannah Clapp: Beryl Bainbridge

5 January 2017
Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means, a Biography 
by Brendan King.
Bloomsbury, 564 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 1 4729 0853 7
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... BrendanKing​ starts with a difficulty: Beryl Bainbridge’s writing. It makes everyone else’s prose look flabby. But he also has an advantage: his particular knowledge of her life. King worked with Bainbridge for more than twenty years. He looked after her admin and edited her last novel for publication after her death. Diaries, letters and lovers have been open to him. He is in an ...

Even the stones spoke German

Brendan​ Simms: Wrotizla, Breslau, Wroclaw

28 November 2002
Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City 
by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse.
Cape, 585 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 224 06243 3
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... Protestant Lower Silesian subjects that the confessional divide never resulted in all-out war. It nearly did so at the beginning of the Thirty Years War, when Presslaw supported the forlorn ‘Winter King’, but the city managed to escape the Habsburg backlash and maintain a precarious neutrality for most of the rest of the conflict. At the concluding Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the right of free ...

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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... John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was executed in June 1535 for refusing (like Thomas More) to take the oath of succession. He was prepared to swear to the succession itself, which he believed that King and nobles were entitled to change, but was unwilling to swear to the preamble of the Act, since by doing so he would be denying Papal authority and implicitly rejecting the validity of Henry’s ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland

21 April 1988
Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... Stephen King has occasionally raised a rueful protest against being typed as a horror writer – even with the consolation of being the best-selling horror writer in the history of the world. But, as he ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution

18 December 2014
The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... Colonies had been as fervently monarchist as their fellow subjects in Britain itself. In the past decade, however, there has been a more decidedly royalist turn in early American historiography. Brendan McConville’s The King’s Three Faces: The Rise and Fall of Royal America, 1688-1776 (2006) argues that by the time of the American Revolution colonial Whigs – far from being classical ...

Americans

Stephen Fender

2 July 1981
The Life of John O’Hara 
by Frank MacShane.
Cape, 274 pp., £10, March 1981, 9780224018852
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... fulfilment in fiction. Take a gangster, wrote Mary McCarthy in an essay called ‘Characters in Fiction’, ‘who was in the slot-machine racket, decided to go straight and became a laundromat king, sent his daughter to Bennington, where she married a poet-in-residence or a professor of modern linguistic philosophy ... People speak of the lack of tradition or of manners as having a bad effect ...

High on His Own Supply

Christopher Tayler: Amis Recycled

11 September 2003
Yellow Dog 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2003, 0 224 05061 3
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... him to work on – especially because he can’t remember what Big Mal so cryptically said. Next comes Henry England, a.k.a. Hal Nine (aristocracy). Henry is ‘in a ridiculous situation’: he is King of England. More precisely, he is Henry IX. (We are in a parallel universe. And perhaps, in another parallel universe, a parallel Martin Amis is dreaming up a potplant-lecturing, tampon-envying ...

My Feet Are Cut Off

Barbara Newman: Lives of the Saints

3 December 2009
Gilte Legende Vol. I 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 496 pp., £65, November 2006, 0 19 920577 9
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Gilte Legende Vol. II 
edited by Richard Hamer and Vida Russell.
Early English Text Society (Oxford), 1036 pp., £65, August 2007, 978 0 19 923439 4
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... cause. The Legend was a living text. Its translator not only Englished the work of Jacobus, but added a supplement of 20 native saints (published in a separate EETS volume), including Aldhelm, Edward King and Martyr, Augustine of Canterbury, Dunstan, Frideswide and Brendan. First printed in 1483, the Golden Legend saw eight more editions, the last by Wynkyn de Worde in 1527, and its popularity showed ...
7 November 1985
The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955 
by John Colville.
Hodder, 796 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 340 38296 1
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... fact helped to make him Public Hero Number One at home and in the USA.’ On the evening Churchill took office as prime minister, Colville, Butler and Chips Channon drank a champagne toast to the ‘King over the water’ – Chamberlain. Of all the appeasers, young and old, Colville was the only one to make the transition from Chamberlain’s inner circle to Churchill’s. The new prime minister ...

America first

Felipe Fernández-Armesto

7 January 1993
European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 212 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 300 05285 5
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New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery 
by Anthony Grafton, April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi.
Harvard, 282 pp., £23.95, October 1992, 0 674 61875 0
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The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus 
by Valerie Flint.
Princeton, 233 pp., £16, August 1992, 0 691 05681 1
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Land without Evil: Utopian Journeys across the South American Watershed 
by Richard Gott.
Verso, 299 pp., £18.95, January 1993, 0 86091 398 8
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... by this text. When he later compared his achievement to Alexander’s, he was thinking at least as much of the medieval Alexander, the fictional hero of romantic tradition, as of the ancient King of Macedon. At the moment of his discovery, the impact of America was absorbed in layers of his own reading and made to fit his capacious image of himself. Like the artist who showed Cortés riding ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’

2 January 2003
... father, was thought to be into the black market and that Maggie used to hang out of her bedroom window and spit on the other children. 12 February. A shoddy programme about the conviction of Jonathan King for offences against young men dating back twenty-five years and more. While it features some of the police involved, it manages not to ask the pertinent question: if these 15-year-old boys had been ...

Enjoying every moment

David Reynolds: Ole Man Churchill

7 August 2003
Churchill 
by John Keegan.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £14.99, November 2002, 0 297 60776 6
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Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and His Legend since 1945 
by John Ramsden.
HarperCollins, 652 pp., £9.99, September 2003, 0 00 653099 0
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Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography 
by Mary Soames.
Doubleday, 621 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 385 60446 7
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Churchill at War 1940-45 
by Lord Moran.
Constable, 383 pp., £9.99, October 2002, 1 84119 608 8
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Churchill’s Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy 
by Klaus Larres.
Yale, 583 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 300 09438 8
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... than performance. Gallipoli, 1915, was still held against him; since 1929 he had been railing in the wilderness – sometimes presciently, as on Germany, sometimes ludicrously, as in support of the King over abdication – without getting back into office. From young man in a hurry to old codger going nowhere: his hour on the stage of history seemed to be over. If anything, Ramsden goes further than ...

Play for Today

Adam Smyth: Rewriting ‘Pericles’

24 October 2019
Spring 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 336 pp., £16.99, March, 978 0 241 20704 8
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The Porpoise 
by Mark Haddon.
Chatto, 309 pp., £18.99, May, 978 1 78474 282 9
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... alongside six other plays not by Shakespeare. Much of the critical distaste was due to the themes of prostitution and incest (the play opens as Pericles discovers the incestuous relationship between King Antiochus and his daughter, and has to flee the murderer dispatched to silence him). The versions of Pericles that were performed or printed tended to cut out, or minimise, these elements. Charles ...
22 May 1997
Sex, Nation and Dissent in Irish Writing 
edited by Éibhear Walshe.
Cork, 210 pp., £40, April 1997, 1 85918 013 2
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Gooddbye to Catholic Ireland 
by Mary Kenny.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 320 pp., £20, March 1997, 1 85619 751 4
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... Dublin tram during the Congress. ‘Well, if it rains now,’ she said, ‘He’ll have brought it on Himself.’ Chesterton saw a banner hanging between two tenement houses: ‘God Bless Christ the King,’ it said. From then on an authoritarian Church and a fragile, insecure State combined to produce a sort of dark ages. It was as though Ireland north and south vied with each other over who could ...

Stalking​ Out

David Edgar: After John Osborne

20 July 2006
John Osborne: A Patriot for Us 
by John Heilpern.
Chatto, 528 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 7011 6780 7
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... bitterness and anguish with his mother, whom he blamed for his father’s death (his mother’s statement that ‘he’s never been ashamed of me’ has to be the greatest parental misjudgment since King Lear banished Cordelia). After a short career in provincial rep (in an era when rep ads stipulated ‘no fancy salaries and no queer folk’), Osborne drew on his equally short first marriage in ...

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