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Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... round-up of the Dictionary of National Biography. This is also the last of five volumes to which C.S. Nicholls has devoted her editorial talents. There will now be something of a hiatus, until the first volumes of the New Dictionary of National Biography, under Colin Matthew, begin to appear early next century, with all lives revised and the text ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Caster Semenya, 8 October 2009

... a spy, in that attracting attention is by definition a sign that something has gone amiss.The case of Caster Semenya has seen the administration of athletics go about as badly wrong as it possibly can. Semenya is the 18-year-old South African woman who won the 800 metres World Championships in Berlin this August, having ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... along the way some image of the ideal Briton: he who combines self-reliance with a sense of public service. Of course, in order to prove that your self-reliance is genuinely tough-fibred and that your sense of public service is not just some youthfully liberal flash in the pan, you have to live to a great ...

Grateful Dead

John Barrell, 22 April 1993

The Dictionary of National Biography: Missing Persons 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 790 pp., £80, January 1993, 0 19 865211 9
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... an empiric who specialised in curing anal fistulae without surgery or the use of caustics or poultices; he also claimed to be able to cure impotence in men and barrenness in women. He displayed the embalmed body of his first wife in the parlour of his house in Mount Street. Every so often he look an entire column of the Morning Post to puff his practice, and ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... tyrannised and tormented him. Contributors were constantly difficult, insanely verbose, excessively pedantic, obtusely antiquarian; suggestions for inclusion sometimes bordered on the absurd, as when a clergyman submitted a list of 1400 ‘important’ hymn-writers; the labour of reading, writing, checking, co-ordinating, corresponding and ...

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