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Boys will be soldiers

Brian Harrison, 20 October 1983

Sure and Stedfast: A History of the Boys’ Brigade, 1883-1984 
edited by John Springhall.
Collins, 304 pp., £10, June 1983, 0 00 434280 1
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... officers, past, present and future; two of its authors are Brigade officers. John Springhall and Brian Fraser have collaborated on the British chapters; Michael Hoare has written the chapters on the movement overseas. The Brigade has shown an admirable willingness – by no means common among voluntary bodies – to give its historians free access to its ...

Sisterhoods

Brian Harrison, 6 December 1984

Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism 1839-1939 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 353 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 436 16113 3
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Stepping Stones to Women’s Liberty: Feminist Ideas in the Women’s Movement 1900-1918 
by Les Garner.
Gower, 142 pp., £15, July 1984, 0 435 32357 1
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Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980 
by Sheila Fletcher.
Athlone, 194 pp., £18, July 1984, 0 485 11248 5
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A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working-Class Women 1890-1940 
by Elizabeth Roberts.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13572 3
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... It is already beginning to look as though 1979 marked a political and intellectual shift in Britain comparable with 1886, 1906, 1922, 1945 and 1964. For Mrs Thatcher’s electoral victory consolidated an intellectual shift towards conservatism that has penetrated into almost every corner of British society since the mid-1970s. Feminism, always linked to the fortunes of the Left and always vulnerable in the face of unemployment, has not been exempt, and we now seem to be living through one of the movement’s periodic pauses for breath during its long history ...

Votes for Women, Chastity for Men

Brian Harrison, 21 January 1988

Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 241 12105 1
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Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 
by Susan Kingsley Kent.
Princeton, 295 pp., £22, June 1987, 0 691 05497 5
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Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 
by Pat Jalland.
Oxford, 366 pp., £19.50, November 1986, 0 19 822668 3
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An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 
by A.M. McBriar.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, July 1987, 0 19 820111 7
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... Social movements have been in vogue among British historians since the 1950s. This is partly because Labour’s agenda, strangely combining statist welfare and libertarian protest, has dominated the political and intellectual climate. But there is also a professional reason for these historiographical priorities. The reaction against the narrowness of the old political and constitutional history has never been complete: by choosing social movements as their theme, historians could simultaneously ride the old and respectable horse of political history and the new and fashionable one of sociology ...

A Slight Dash of the Tiresome

Brian Harrison, 9 November 1989

The Blind Victorian: Henry Fawcett and British Liberalism 
edited by Lawrence Goldman.
Cambridge, 199 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 521 35032 8
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... Intellectuals – informed people who enjoy accumulating and diffusing ideas – were more prominent in Victorian public life than they are today. Public life was then confined to a well-educated élite, and intellectual activity was less rarefied in language, less specialised in scope, more readily discussed in periodicals designed for general circulation ...

Old Verities

Brian Harrison, 19 June 1986

The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form 1832-1867 
by Catherine Gallagher.
Chicago, 320 pp., £23.25, September 1985, 0 226 27932 4
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Victorian Prison Lives: English Prison Biography 1830-1914 
by Philip Priestley.
Methuen, 311 pp., £14.85, October 1985, 0 416 34770 3
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The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers and Vivisection in Edwardian England 
by Coral Lansbury.
University of Wisconsin Press, 212 pp., £23.50, November 1985, 0 299 10250 5
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‘Orator’ Hunt: Henry Hunt and English Working-Class Radicalism 
by John Belchem.
Oxford, 304 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 19 822759 0
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... for herself and her party: ‘those were the values when our country became great,’ she told Brian Walden three years ago. The publication of these four books provides a timely opportunity for testing her claims. Historians, mostly on the left, have so far dismissed them, and even those not on the left rightly worry about the propagandist way in which ...

Coalition Phobia

Brian Harrison, 4 June 1987

Labour People, Leaders and Lieutenants: Hardie to Kinnock 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 370 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 19 822929 1
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J. Ramsay MacDonald 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 276 pp., £19.50, June 1987, 0 7190 2168 5
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Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical 
by Patricia Romero.
Yale, 334 pp., £17.50, March 1987, 0 300 03691 4
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Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst 
by Barbara Castle.
Penguin, 159 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008761 3
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... If there is a third successive Conservative election victory this summer, Labour will plunge once more into debating its own history. Not reluctantly, because as Kenneth Morgan points out, the Party ‘has been captivated, even obsessed, by its history’; even more than the Conservatives it is, he says, ‘a prisoner of its past’. Yet the debate will probably be more painful than in the recent past, because it will need to be more searching and less sectarian ...

Our Island Story

Stefan Collini: The New DNB, 20 January 2005

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison.
Oxford, sixty volumes, £7,500, September 2004, 9780198614111
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... there may continue to be minor alarums, such as the recent spat over the entry for Patrick O’Brian). Nonetheless, a not dissimilar kind of sleep-disturbing responsibility fell on its editor, and the project was fortunate to find the ideal man for the job in the Oxford historian Colin Matthew, who had demonstrated his capacity for the task in his ...

Squeamish

Peter Clarke: Lloyd George versus Haig, 3 April 2003

Lloyd George: War Leader 
by John Grigg.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, October 2002, 9780713993431
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... book published by the National Portrait Gallery to accompany the BBC series of the same name, Brian Harrison, the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, observes that we are hardly alone ‘in placing the great at the centre of our national myth’: If Lloyd George and Winston Churchill epitomise national ...

Consequences

Christopher Reid, 15 May 1980

Renga 
by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... Lesson’, which tells the story of the poet’s lack of a musical talent, ends like this: Miss Harrison, my sallow teacher, filled the term’s report with words which gave no hope, and I was left, relieved, to carry home th’iambic tick-tock of her metronome. The pay-off is ingenious, in that the boy’s redeeming vocation, to be a poet, is obliquely ...

Maypoles

Conrad Russell, 5 September 1985

The Restoration: A Political and Religious History of England and Wales 1658-1667 
by Ronald Hutton.
Oxford, 379 pp., £17.50, June 1985, 0 19 822698 5
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... the Whig-Tory conflict as being largely between two rival mythologies of the Civil War. Even Brian Harrison, writing on Drink and the Victorians, is moved to remark that for many Dissenters in the Temperance Movement, the Civil War was very much a live issue, and there is surely a 17th-century legacy in Gladstone’s fear, in 1832, that the First ...

Iron Tearing Soil

James Francken: Golf, 4 October 2001

A Gentleman's Game 
by Tom Coyne.
Atlantic, 264 pp., £15, July 2001, 1 903809 05 3
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Riverbank Tweed and Roadmap Jenkins: Tales from the Caddie Yard 
by Bo Links.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £15, May 2001, 0 684 87362 1
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Spikes 
by Michael Griffith.
Arcade, 258 pp., £17, February 2001, 1 55970 536 1
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... to the hassles of the caddie’s life; he makes caddies’ shortcomings the nub of his new novel. Harrison Tweed ‘wasn’t exactly looking for a career’ when he took up caddying. He knew that he didn’t want to follow his father into the shoe factory: shouldering a golfer’s bag seemed like a profitable stopgap until he could find a better job. Tweed ...

Paradise Lost

Stephen Bann, 17 March 1983

Deadeye Dick 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 224 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 224 02945 2
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Bluebeard 
by Max Frisch, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Methuen, 142 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 413 51750 0
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The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction 
by Colin Greenland.
Routledge, 244 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 7100 9310 1
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More Tales of Pirx the Pilot 
by Stanislaw Lem, translated by Louis Iribarne, Magdalena Majcherczyk and Michael Kandel.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 9780436244117
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Yesterday’s Men 
by George Turner.
Faber, 234 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 571 11857 7
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Rebel in Time 
by Harry Harrison.
Granada, 272 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 246 11766 4
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Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 236 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0602 0
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... contribute a real solidity to his guiding ideas. Greenland’s study notes, with reference to Brian Aldiss, the need for Science Fiction to outgrow a vapid Utopianism. George Turner takes the detour of futurology to persuade us that we will never be much better than we are. Equally telling evidence of the crisis of Utopianism can be found in the latest ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Julian Assange, 18 February 2016

... to the Man. There’s comradeship between celebrity dissidents. Sometimes this is practical: Sarah Harrison, Assange’s right-hand woman, flew to Sheremetyevo airport to help navigate Edward Snowden safely and legally into Moscow and get him a residency permit after his leaks broke in the summer of 2013. Sometimes it’s more nebulous: outlaws bond, as we ...

One for water, one for urine

Stephen Smith, 3 December 1992

An Evil Cradling 
by Brian Keenan.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £16.99, September 1992, 0 09 175208 6
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Hostage: The Complete Story of the Lebanese Captives 
by Con Coughlin.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £16.99, October 1992, 0 316 90304 3
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... but I can’t be the only hack on nodding terms with the hostage story whose collection of Brian Keenan minutiae would take very little time to dust. In terms of media interest, Keenan was the least remembered of the captives of Lebanon, the George Harrison of the hostage scene, the other one. The reporter Robert ...

Prize Poems

Donald Davie, 1 July 1982

Arvon Foundation Poetry Competion: 1980 Anthology 
by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
Kilnhurst Publishing Company, 173 pp., £3, April 1982, 9780950807805
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Burn this 
by Tom Disch.
Hutchinson, 63 pp., £7.50, April 1982, 0 09 146960 0
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... Donald Stallybrass, Ellery Akers, Peter Abbs, John Hodgen, Andrew Motion, Edwin Drummond, Gregory Harrison, Gordon Mason and Robert Ballard, Isabel Nathaniel and Peter Didsbury, Anthony Edkins and Brian Cosgrove. Several get prizes, and in particular Andrew Motion gets the big one, £5,000, for a poem that either is, or ...

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