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In search of the Reformation

M.A. Screech, 9 November 1989

The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation 
by Alistair McGrath.
Blackwell, 223 pp., £25, March 1987, 0 631 15144 3
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Pastor and Laity in the Theology of Jean Gerson 
by Catherine Brown.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 521 33029 7
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Collected Works of Erasmus: Vols XXVII and XXVIII 
edited by A.H.T. Levi.
Toronto, 322 pp., £65, February 1987, 0 8020 5602 4
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... mind, and which, again to various extents, replaced argument and intellect by Revelation. Dr Catherine Brown’s study ploughs a narrower furrow, but this too is based on sound erudition and considerable insight. The great Chancellor, Jean Gerson, has become a shadowy figure outside histories of mysticism or of Medieval literature which touch on his ...

Sydney’s Inferno

Jonathan Coe, 24 September 1992

The Last Magician 
by Janette Turner Hospital et al.
Virago, 352 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 1 85381 325 7
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by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 232 pp., £14.95, July 1992, 0 7195 5149 8
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... the secret continues to burn away inside him. The other two children, one called (confusingly) Catherine and the other a Chinese Australian by the name of Charlie Chang, spend the rest of their horrified lives trying to make contact with Cat, tracing her fleeting appearances through strip joints, prisons and police files in Sydney and Brisbane. Chang ...

Persons outside the Law

Catherine Hall: The Atlantic Family, 19 July 2018

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 
by Daniel Livesay.
North Carolina, 448 pp., £45, January 2018, 978 1 4696 3443 2
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... dying herself at 30. The ‘moonlight shades’ and their mother stand for the women, black and brown, whose near invisibility, yet absolute centrality to the system of slavery, speak to the silences of the archive and the work of recovery that remains to be done.* Eliza, Matilda and Allan Williams are three of the 360 children of mixed heritage – mainly ...

Earl Grey Moments

Tobias Jones, 2 October 1997

Grace Notes 
by Bernard Mac Laverty.
Cape, 277 pp., £14.99, July 1997, 9780224044295
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... archaeology: the ‘whorl’ of an ear, the ‘tuggy’ toast, someone ‘thran’. The heroine is Catherine McKenna, a pianist and composer returning to Northern Ireland for her father’s funeral. She is estranged from this background, having moved to Islay to teach and compose. She has met a man there, the alcoholic Dave, and had a daughter, Anna. The book ...

Tic in the Brain

Deborah Friedell: Mrs Dickens, 11 September 2008

Girl in a Blue Dress 
by Gaynor Arnold.
Tindall Street, 438 pp., £9.99, August 2008, 978 0 9556476 1 1
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... unsuited to each other.’ After twenty years of marriage, and ten children, Dickens claimed that Catherine Hogarth Dickens had all along suffered from a ‘mental disorder’, and was so unfit to be a wife and mother that a separation was required for her own good. It would be a few generations before a rival explanation – Dickens’s infatuation with the ...

Serfs Who Are Snobs

Catherine Merridale: Aleksandr Nikitenko, 29 November 2001

Up from Serfdom: My Childhood and Youth in Russia 1804-24 
by Aleksandr Nikitenko, translated by Helen Saltz Jacobson.
Yale, 228 pp., £20, June 2001, 0 300 08414 5
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... radiant and two-dimensional. She was poor but honest, beautiful and gracious, with memorable dark brown eyes, ‘in which shone . . . much tenderness and goodness’, but of course her ‘chief strength lay in her heart and character’. This was just as well. Her husband had seemed like a good match when they married, but in Aleksandr’s account he was ...


Catherine Hall: Return to Jamaica, 13 July 2023

... their five daughters and two sons, in a small house on South Street. It was a lower-middle-class Brown household. The oldest daughter, Gerry, was an impressive woman, who taught reading, writing and arithmetic to generations of Old Harbour children in the backyard of the house. It was Gerry, a devout Catholic, who arranged for Clare, the only child of her ...

It makes yer head go

David Craig: James Kelman and Gordon Legge, 18 February 1999

The Good Times 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1998, 0 436 41215 2
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Near Neighbours 
by Gordon Legge.
Cape, 218 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05120 2
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... that should have been told on camera if we were to be offered more than plot. ‘Shafting Auntie Catherine’, which lasts for nearly forty pages, is a comedy about the efforts of some football-playing workers for the Port Authority to give Catherine Ferryman from the pay office ‘a good seeing to’. They’re galled ...

Mother Country

Catherine Hall: The Hostile Environment, 23 January 2020

The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment 
by Amelia Gentleman.
Guardian Faber, 336 pp., £18.99, September 2019, 978 1 78335 184 8
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Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation 
by Colin Grant.
Cape, 320 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 78733 105 1
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Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Become Scapegoats 
by Maya Goodfellow.
Verso, 272 pp., £12.99, November 2019, 978 1 78873 336 6
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... Commonwealth immigration it was clear that British subjecthood was racialised and that black and brown Jamaicans did not enjoy the privileges of freeborn Englishmen.Approximately​ 12 million African captives were forcibly transported to the Americas in the early modern period. Many died on the passage across the Atlantic. A significant number, bought and ...


Stephen Greenblatt, 19 June 1986

Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy 
by Judith Brown.
Oxford, 214 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 503675 1
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... my expert opinion was Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by Judith Brown, a social historian at Stanford University. The Times was particularly interested, the reporter explained, because another book about lesbian nuns in contemporary America had recently been published and was promptly banned from sale in Massachusetts. The ...


Nicholas Spice, 17 May 1984

Present Times 
by David Storey.
Cape, 270 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 224 02188 5
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The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle 
edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin.
Open University, 296 pp., £15, December 1982, 9780335101818
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The Hawthorn Goddess 
by Glyn Hughes.
Chatto, 232 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7011 2818 6
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... zip-jacketed, jeaned, it ran past him to the road.’ This is Benjie, delinquent boyfriend of Catherine, Frank’s second eldest daughter. Catherine is ‘pale-cheeked, slim-necked, broad-browed, sharp-nosed’ – ‘pugnaciously-featured’, in fact, like Attercliffe himself. Attercliffe and ...

Irish Adventurers

Janet Adam Smith, 25 June 1992

The Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 
edited by Elizabeth Mavor.
Weidenfeld, 187 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 297 81223 8
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... and in Lady Londonderry and H.M. Hyde’s The Russian Journals and Letters of Martha and Catherine Wilmot (1934). For the present selection, which covers both tours, Elizabeth Mavor has gone back to the original transcripts, included some hitherto unpublished material, and provided the historical context. She has done well to bring Katherine Wilmot ...

Later, Not Now

Christopher L. Brown: Histories of Emancipation, 15 July 2021

Murder on the Middle Passage: The Trial of Captain Kimber 
by Nicholas Rogers.
Boydell, 267 pp., £16.99, April 2020, 978 1 78327 482 6
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The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery 
by Michael Taylor.
Bodley Head, 382 pp., £20, November 2020, 978 1 84792 571 8
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... field matters more than the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership project. Conceived and executed by Catherine Hall and her colleagues at UCL, it has made plain the full extent of British investment in human bondage. Many people now know that the end of slavery in the British Empire, legislated for in 1833, took the form of a negotiated settlement between the ...

At the V&A

Jenny Turner: Ballgowns, 5 July 2012

... have a lot of royalty in it: Norman Hartnell’s wide Winterhalter neckline for the Queen Mother, Catherine Walker’s high-collared Elvis-in-Vegas number, made for Diana in 1989. But I was surprised to notice how personally people seemed to greet the outfits – how familiar they were and in a weird way, loved. ‘The family provides the central structure of ...

At the British Library

Peter Campbell: The Codex Sinaiticus, 23 July 2009

... by monks in 1975 from a space uncovered during building work, are still in the Monastery of St Catherine, Mount Sinai. That was where the Leipzig archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf was finally shown the bulk of the Sinaiticus in 1859 (he’d taken the other pages away in 1844). He eventually persuaded the monks to present it to the tsar. Written out ...

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