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Flowers in His Trousers

Christopher​ Benfey: Central Park’s Architect

5 October 2016
Frederick Law OlmstedWritings on Landscape,​ Culture and Society 
edited​ by Charles​ E. Beveridge.
Library of America, 802 pp., £30, November​ 2015, 978 1 59853 452 8
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... farmers before acquiring, with help from his father, his own farm on Staten Island. He visited his younger brother, John, at Yale, making friends with some of his high-minded circle, including Charles Loring Brace, who later founded the Children’s Aid Society. Brace and the Olmsted brothers travelled to Europe in 1850, walking through the English countryside and visiting farmers there and on the ...

One-Man Ministry

Susan Pedersen: Welfare States

8 February 2018
Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State 
by Chris Renwick.
Allen​ Lane, 323 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 0 241 18668 8
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... Watson does not appear in Bread for All, Chris Renwick’s synthetic history of the British welfare state. Instead Renwick tops and tails his book with the well-known figure of Sir William Beveridge, opening with a vignette of the great social reformer going to the Commons on 16 February 1943 to listen to the debate on his plan for comprehensive social insurance, and closing on 5 July 1948, the ...
2 May 1985
Founders of the Welfare State 
edited​ by Paul Barker.
Gower, 138 pp., £14.95, February 1985, 0 435 82060 5
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The Affluent Society 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 233 97771 6
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... perhaps, to the cruel though well-meaning Poor Law of 1834. In top-and-tail essays Asa Briggs and David Donnison make what they can of a disparate assembly which ranges from Josephine Butler and Charles Booth to R.I. Morant and William Beveridge. As Donnison points out, equality was seldom their explicit goal. Nor was the growth of a centralised bureaucratic state. Nor were trade-offs between social ...

One Nation

José Harris

23 June 1988
The Health Services​ since the War. Vol. I: Problems of Health Care:​ The National Health Service before 1957 
by Charles​ Webster.
HMSO, 479 pp., £27.50, April 1988, 0 11 630942 3
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... of utilitarian church, mediating the beliefs and presiding over the rituals of a society incapable of advancing any more metaphysical conception. For the past thirty years foreign observers cited in Charles Webster’s study have perceived the NHS as an ‘integral part of the total pattern of the British state, as an ‘altogether natural feature of the British landscape, and ‘almost a part of ...

Their Way

José Harris: On the Origin of Altruism

12 March 2009
The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain 
by Thomas Dixon.
British Academy, 420 pp., £60, May 2008, 978 0 19 726426 3
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... and his mentor Saint-Simon) as from the more obvious influences of either democratic socialism or Soviet-style Marxism. Some of the most prominent social planners of those years, such as William Beveridge and Barbara Wootton in Britain, Pierre Laroque and Francis Netter in France, together with many campaigners for a united or federal postwar Europe, were heirs and exemplars of the positivist ...

Sunny Days

Michael​ Howard

11 February 1993
Never​ Again: Britain 1945-51 
by Peter​ Hennessy.
Cape,​ 544 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 224 02768 9
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Churchill on the Home Front 1900-1955 
by Paul Addison.
Cape,​ 493 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 224 01428 5
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... had become commonplace among the professional classes since the days of ‘New Liberals’ like J.A. Hobson and soft socialists like R.H. Tawney. They may not all have willed the means proposed by Beveridge and Keynes (though an increasing number of them did) but most of them willed the end. They implemented the plans of their Labour masters not only dutifully but often with enthusiasm. It is most ...

So Very Silent

John Pemble:​ Victorian Corpse Trade

25 October 2012
Dying for Victorian Medicine: English Anatomy and Its Trade in the Dead Poor, c.1834-1929 
by Elizabeth Hurren.
Palgrave,​ 380 pp., £65, December 2011, 978 0 230 21966 3
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Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver​ Twist and the London Poor 
by Ruth Richardson.
Oxford, 370 pp., £16.99, February 2012, 978 0 19 964588 6
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... were torn apart. The New Poor Law was always controversial. Dickens was only the first of many critics. Carlyle, Disraeli, Kingsley, Ruskin, Morris, Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Churchill, Beveridge – all arraigned it as morally indefensible. It punished not only the ‘undeserving’ poor (the ‘residuum’ or ‘underclass’ of incorrigibles) but the ‘deserving’ poor too – those  ...
23 January 1986
Now the war is overA Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape,​ 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October​ 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October​ 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies​ and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher​ Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney​ Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces​ of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape,​ 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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Outposts 
by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October​ 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... brought opportunity to high-minded persons from more than one political tradition. Boyd Orr the medical reformer and Julian Huxley the socially-conscious scientist helped to set up Unesco. William Beveridge, a Liberal, saw his Welfare State largely enacted; Creech Jones, chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau which had been founded in 1940, became the minister responsible for the colonies; and the  ...

Royal Panic Attack

Colin Kidd: James​ VI and I

16 June 2011
King James​ VI and I and His English Parliaments 
by Conrad Russell, edited​ by Richard Cust and Andrew​ Thrush.
Oxford, 195 pp., £55, February 2011, 978 0 19 820506 7
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... narrative of Whig continuity which connected both English revolutions of the 17th century. Rather, the proper history of the Whigs began only with the Exclusion Crisis of 1679, the attempt to exclude Charles II’s Roman Catholic heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the throne. In the political dramas of the 1680s the Russell dynasty produced two of the iconic figures of English Whig mythology ...
11 June 1992
Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism and History 
by Vron Ware.
Verso, 263 pp., £34.95, February 1992, 0 86091 336 8
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Imperial EyesTravel​ Writing and Transculturation 
by Mary Louise Pratt.
Routledge,​ 257 pp., £35, January 1992, 9780415026758
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... such is the anxiety she displays to preserve feminism from contamination by any thoughts which might somehow be construed as racist. What a pleasure it is to recall, amid Wares subtleties. Sir Charles Napier’s celebrated, though possibly apocryphal riposte to the Indian brahmins who pleaded that suttee was a national custom: ‘My nation also has a custom. When men burn women alive, we hang them ...

A Very Smart Bedint

Frank Kermode:​ Harold Nicolson

17 March 2005
Harold Nicolson 
by Norman Rose.
Cape,​ 383 pp., £20, February 2005, 0 224 06218 2
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... Nicolson and his amazing marriage, but paid little attention to him as the author of many books, including a biography of his father, Lord Carnock, a bestselling life of King George V, a life of Mrs Charles Lindbergh’s father, some novels and some historical studies. Of these works I had read only one, the pseudo-autobiographical Some People, first published in 1927 (according to the Author’s Note ...

A Revision of Expectations

Richard Horton: Notes​ on the NHS

2 July 1998
The National Health Service: A Political History 
by Charles​ Webster.
Oxford, 233 pp., £9.99, April 1998, 0 19 289296 7
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... of the health services – of the care of the mentally ill, especially – a process unheard of in the NHS since its inception in 1948. In a gratifyingly compressed, although at times grey, account, Charles Webster concludes that the Ely episode brought ‘a fresh spirit of determination’ to the care of long-stay patients. It did more than that: it released additional money, spurred improvements in ...

Ideologues

Peter​ Pulzer

20 February 1986
The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles​ Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New​ Left 
by Roger​ Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea​ of Liberalism: Studies​ for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November​ 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November​ 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... between law, morality, political power and the state. They are in search of the bases of authority in social and political life, of which the most important is religion. All of this comes out well in Charles Covell’s scholarly, discriminating and curiously detached study of the Cambridge fogeys – Michael Oakeshott, John Casey, Maurice Cowling and Roger Scruton – with side-glances at Shirley Robin ...
6 March 2014
In It TogetherThe Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew​ D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October​ 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... 1770-82) and a new ministry was formed out of North’s various critics, bringing together the Rockinghamites (nominally headed by the Marquess of Rockingham, but whose effective leader was Charles James Fox) and the followers of Lord Shelburne. This ministry was riddled with dispute, and on Rockingham’s death in the summer of 1782 the Foxites abandoned Shelburnes new government, which ...

North and South

Raphael​ Samuel

22 June 1995
Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village 
by Mark Hudson.
Cape,​ 320 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 04170 3
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... pit disaster and the warning siren became as cinematically familiar as the Eiffel Tower or the Houses of Parliament. A.J. Cronin, the best-selling novelist whose fictions probably did as much as the Beveridge Report – and certainly more than the Thirties poets – to secure Labour’s landslide victory in the 1945 election, had served one of his medical apprenticeships in the Rhondda valley; amputating ...

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