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At the National Gallery

Nicholas Penny: El Greco

4 March 2004
... John CharlesRobinson, perhaps the greatest connoisseur Britain has ever known, was turned down on four occasions for the post of director of the National Gallery. He was thought to be too closely associated with the ...

Journey to Arezzo

Nicholas Penny: The Apotheosis of Piero

17 April 2003
Piero della Francesca 
by Roberto Longhi, translated by David Tabbat.
Sheep Meadow, 364 pp., £32.50, September 2002, 1 878818 77 5
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... created the incomparable collections of the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum) and the National Gallery. Piero della Francesca was a figure of special interest for both John CharlesRobinson, an agent for South Kensington as well as for private collectors, and Charles Eastlake, the first director of the National Gallery, because of the extreme rarity of his portable pictures ...

Ink Blots, Pin Holes

Caroline Gonda: ‘Frankenstein’

28 January 2010
The Original ‘Frankenstein’ 
by Mary Shelley, with Percy Shelley, edited by Charles Robinson.
Bodleian Library, 448 pp., £14.99, October 2009, 978 1 85124 396 9
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... the 1832 Reform Bill used ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ almost interchangeably as shorthand for an unwieldy and dangerous entity created from ill-assorted bits and pieces. As CharlesRobinson notes in his new edition of the novel, such confusion set in soon after the book’s first publication in 1818. In October 1823, at a masked ball in Liverpool, a local newspaper reported ...
19 June 1997
American Original: A Life of Will Rogers 
by Ray Robinson.
Oxford, 288 pp., $30, January 1997, 0 19 508693 7
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... Will Rogers died in 1935 the most loved man in America. Ray Robinson, who was 14 years old, remembers the news reaching his summer camp by radio and spreading like wildfire from bungalow to bungalow. No death since Abraham Lincoln’s (the kidnapping and killing of ...

Cradles in the Portego

Nicholas Penny: Renaissance Venice

5 January 2006
The New Palaces of Medieval Venice 
by Juergen Schulz.
Pennsylvania State, 368 pp., £61.50, July 2004, 0 271 02351 1
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Private Lives in Renaissance Venice 
by Patricia Fortini Brown.
Yale, 312 pp., £35, October 2004, 0 300 10236 4
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... or when Lady Layard translated a treatise on lace-making and her husband, Sir Austen Henry Layard, helped to establish a collection of historic Venetian glass on Murano; and above all when John CharlesRobinson bought ceramics, metalwork, glass and textiles from Venice for South Kensington, the ‘products of the artisan’ were receiving plenty of ‘serious scholarly attention’. As for the ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby

9 February 1995
Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, dismissed several professors for protesting against America’s entry into World War One. This precipitated the resignations of two leading historians, Charles Beard and James Robinson, both of whom had long bridled at interference by trustees and college presidents. With some associates at the New Republic, Beard and Robinson hatched plans for a ‘new ...

Received Accents

Peter Robinson

20 February 1986
Collected Poems 
by Charles​ Tomlinson.
Oxford, 351 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 19 211974 5
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Selected and New Poems: 1939-84 
by J.C. Hall.
Secker, 87 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 436 19052 4
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Burning the knife: New and Selected Poems 
by Robin Magowan.
Scarecrow Press, 114 pp., £13.50, September 1985, 0 8108 1777 2
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Englishmen: A Poem 
by Christopher Hope.
Heinemann, 41 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 434 34661 6
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Selected Poems: 1954-1982 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 175 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 436 16754 9
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Writing Home 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 19 211970 2
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... Charles Tomlinson has a poem called ‘Class’ about the Midland pronunciation of the first letter of the alphabet. In the last chapter of Some Americans, the poet tells how for a short time he was Percy ...
5 September 1985
The Randlords: The Men who made South Africa 
by Geoffrey Wheatcroft.
Weidenfeld, 314 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 297 78437 4
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... were first discovered. And yet amongst the millions of words there are curious lacunae, particularly in the area of biography. The key figures are Cecil Rhodes, Barney Barnato, Alfred Beit, J.B. Robinson, Solly Joel and Julius Wernher. None has a definitive biography, and on someone such as Beit there is an almost complete silence. This is even more true of the minor figures, such as Rhodes’s ...

Fugitive Crusoe

Tom Paulin: Daniel Defoe

19 July 2001
Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions 
by Maximilian Novak.
Oxford, 756 pp., £30, April 2001, 0 19 812686 7
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Political and Economic Writings of Daniel Defoe 
edited by W.R. Owens and P.N. Furbank.
Pickering & Chatto, £595, December 2000, 1 85196 465 7
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... In 1830, a few months before he died in a Soho rooming-house, Hazlitt published a lengthy essay on a new biography of Daniel Defoe in the Edinburgh Review, where he remarked that in Robinson Crusoe Defoe abandoned the political and religious subjects he addressed in his pamphlets, and confined himself to ‘unsophisticated views of nature and the human heart’. Hazlitt’s misreading is ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Deborah Friedell: ‘The First Actresses’

3 November 2011
... The Protectorate was over, the Commonwealth had failed. Charles II entered London on 29 May 1660, his birthday, and began hanging judges and reopening theatres. Tongue firmly in cheek, a royal patent lamented that ‘many plays formerly acted do contain several ...

Snakes and Leeches

Rosemary Hill: The Great Stink

4 January 2018
One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 352 pp., £25, July 2017, 978 0 300 22726 0
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... such as incest, sodomy or desertion. The result was a series of sensational cases which gripped the press and kept the specialist scandal sheets in business. One of the most entertaining was Robinson v. Robinson and Lane. Henry Robinson had read his wife Isabella’s diary and found that not only did she dislike him intensely but she had recorded in considerable detail a passionate affair with ...

Necessary Bishop

John Robinson

3 July 1980
Ahead of his Age: Bishop Barnes of Birmingham 
by John Barnes.
Collins, 487 pp., £12.95, November 1979, 0 00 216087 0
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... authority which Archbishop Fisher’s headmasterly rebuke could not touch. The Rise of Christianity was the work of a loner who had ceased to listen to those who could have helped and corrected him. Charles Raven, whom Barnes would have liked to succeed him as bishop, said of him, in an ‘eloquent and laudatory’ Memorial Lecture (quoted by Alec Vidler in his ‘Centenary Retrospect’ in The Modern ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment

5 April 2007
The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... re-establish that connection.’ For Sher, the Scottish printers and booksellers of the second half of the century, such as Andrew Millar, William Strahan, Thomas Cadell (father and son) and George Robinson in London, and Alexander Kincaid, John Balfour, John Bell and William Creech in Edinburgh, were not ‘mechanicks’ as Strahan once complained, but collaborators in a London-Edinburgh publishing ...

Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy

4 March 1999
Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... publication date grew closer. ‘It’s going to blow him away.’ In 1996, when he was living on £46,000 a year, Mandelson borrowed £373,000 (eight times his MP’s salary) from Geoffrey Robinson, an industrialist Blair put in the Treasury after New Labour’s victory. Robinson’s fortune had been inflated by dealings with Robert Maxwell, the Channel Island tax havens and a legacy from a ...

Tousy-Mousy

Anne Barton: Mary Shelley

8 February 2001
Mary Shelley 
by Miranda Seymour.
Murray, 665 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7195 5711 9
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Mary Shelley in Her Times 
edited by Betty Bennett and Stuart Curran.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £33, September 2000, 0 8018 6334 1
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Mary Shelley's Fictions 
edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra.
Palgrave, 250 pp., £40, August 2000, 0 333 77106 0
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... terms, unattractive daughter of a Scottish earl, who assumed both a male identity and masculine dress, and passed herself off successfully for some time in Parisian society as the husband of Isabel Robinson, and father of ‘their’ child, is remarkable in itself. But it is also remarkable that the Mary Shelley who increasingly tried to bury her own irregular past, and declared in 1838 that ‘since I ...

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