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Big Head

John Sutherland, 23 April 1987

Thackeray’s Universe: Shifting Worlds of Imagination and Reality 
by Catherine Peters.
Faber, 292 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 571 14711 9
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... Catherine Peters’s cosmically titled book is a popular biography. It is also the third popular biography of Thackeray we have had in the last nine years, taking its place alongside Anne Monsarrat’s Thackeray: Uneasy Victorian (1980) and Margaret Forster’s sprightly ‘autobiography’, Thackeray: Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman (1978 ...

In Praise of Spiders

Caleb Crain: Wilkie Collins’s Name Games, 11 September 2008

The Woman in White 
by Wilkie Collins.
Vintage, 609 pp., £5.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 951124 3
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... to address him by his middle name. He started his nonconformism young, according to his biographer Catherine Peters. At the age of 13, he had an affair in Rome with a married woman while on vacation with his family, or so he later claimed. At 17 he was placed as an apprentice in a tea importer’s office, where over the course of five years he proved ...

Odd Union

David Cannadine, 20 October 1994

Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 415 pp., £18, October 1994, 0 670 84159 5
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... by Gillray, Cruickshank, Rowlandson and Dent; and portrayed by Romney, Beechey, Hoppner, Matthew Peters and John Russell. Nor has she been entirely forgotten by posterity. To be sure, she was not even mentioned by name in Percy Fitzgerald’s two-volume life of King William IV, published in 1884. But she merited an entry in the Dictionary of National ...

Call it magnificence

Michael Hofmann: Antonio Muñoz Molina, 20 December 2018

Like a Fading Shadow 
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Camilo A. Ramirez.
Serpent’s Tail, 310 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78125 894 1
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... less coercive or imposing manner than Muñoz Molina’s. He repeats, contradicts, varies, lets go, peters out. ‘Literature is built with things that exist and things that do not,’ he shrugs. ‘A drawing is mostly empty space.’ There are lots of things he doesn’t know, still more that can’t be known; ‘or not’ or ‘perhaps’ are constant ...

Jangling Monarchy

Tom Paulin: Milton and the Regicides, 8 August 2002

A Companion to Milton 
by Thomas N. Corns.
Blackwell, 528 pp., £80, June 2001, 0 631 21408 9
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The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography 
by Barbara K. Lewalski.
Blackwell, 816 pp., £25, December 2000, 0 631 17665 9
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... and also remembers the fate of the regicides. As Lewalski points out, Cromwell’s adviser Hugh Peters was executed as a regicide because he promoted ‘regicide before the fact’. This was a dangerous precedent for Milton: he had written The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates after the execution of the King in 1649 to ‘reconcile men’s minds’ by ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... reticence and self-questioning. Some fall on the side of censuring her excess; others, like Margot Peters in Unquiet Soul (1975), wish to cut away the anxiety or attribute it to patriarchy rather than personality (how do we separate self from circumstance?). Charlotte’s desire to be published stands in contrast, at least so it appears, to Emily’s ...

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