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Shee Spy

Michael Dobson, 8 May 1997

The Secret Life of Aphra Behn 
by Janet Todd.
Deutsch, 545 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 233 98991 9
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... the title-role). Meanwhile, Behn’s plays have attracted stars as expensive as Jeremy Irons and Christopher Reeve, and she herself, now conscripted to the cause of postcolonialism as well as that of feminism, has been the subject of a Canadian play (Beth Hirst’s A Woman’s Comedy, 1993) and a Scottish novel (Ross Laidlaw’s Aphra Behn: Dispatch’d from ...

I gotta use words

Mark Ford: Eliot speaks in tongues, 11 August 2016

The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume I: Collected & Uncollected Poems 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 1311 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23870 5
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The Poems of T.S. Eliot: Volume II: Practical Cats & Further Verses 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
Faber, 667 pp., £40, November 2015, 978 0 571 23371 7
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... in the publication, nearly a century on, of Faber’s two all-comprehending new tomes, edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue. The editors promise to ‘elucidate the difficulties’ of Eliot’s work by tracing every possible verbal overlap between the words used in his poems and the words used by other writers, both famous and obscure, in texts that ...

Old Dad dead?

Michael Neill: Thomas Middleton, 4 December 2008

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 2016 pp., £85, November 2007, 978 0 19 818569 7
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Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works 
edited by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino.
Oxford, 1183 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 818570 3
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... Shakespeare’s heir than his official successor as principal dramatist for the King’s Men, John Fletcher, the sentimental doyen of romantic tragicomedy. After Marlowe, Middleton had perhaps the most arrestingly individual voice among Shakespeare’s contemporaries; yet whether it is just (or even helpful) to claim for him the title of ‘our other ...

Out of the East

Blair Worden, 11 October 1990

The King’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey 
by Peter Gwyn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 666 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 7126 2190 3
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Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution 
by John Morrill.
Longman, 300 pp., £17.95, May 1990, 0 582 06064 8
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The Writings of William Walwyn 
edited by Jack McMichael and Barbara Taft.
Georgia, 584 pp., $45, July 1989, 0 8203 1017 4
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... cannot say, for it is a long time since anyone tried. The most influential recent study of him, by Christopher Hill, is more a series of essays than a biography. Morrill’s volume is not a biography either, but it is as accomplished a substitute for one as a collaborative venture could expect to provide. In invoking Elton’s pronouncement on Wolsey, Morrill ...

You are a milksop

Ferdinand Mount, 7 May 2020

Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate 
by Paul Lay.
Head of Zeus, 352 pp., £30, January 2020, 978 1 78185 256 9
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... seized him just before the Battle of Naseby.’In his rumbustious biography God’s Englishman, Christopher Hill diagnoses Cromwell as a manic depressive. When evaluating his performance in government, Hill, as a Marxist, was more plainspoken than some liberal historians, who tend to be mealy-mouthed and cower in the shadow of Thomas Carlyle and the Great ...

Doris and Me

Jenny Diski, 8 January 2015

... his wife, the poet Ruth Fainlight, Arnold Wesker and his wife Dusty. Naomi Mitchison. Ted Hughes, Christopher Logue (whose recording of poetry and jazz, Red Bird, I’d bought with my pocket money at St Christopher’s), Lindsay Anderson, Fenella Fielding. A Portuguese couple, described to me as ‘a poet in exile and his ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012, 3 January 2013

... rehearsal, when the author is the last person anyone wants to see, so I have come with R. and Christopher Simon Sykes to Garsington on the outskirts of Oxford where they are photographing the 17th-century country house, once lived in by Ottoline Morrell. The house will be known to many people for its opera festival run by the late Leonard Ingrams, but I ...

I want to love it

Susan Pedersen: What on earth was he doing?, 18 April 2019

Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History 
by Richard J. Evans.
Little, Brown, 800 pp., £35, February 2019, 978 1 4087 0741 8
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... February 1935, for example, deciding to read some drama, he raced through Aeschylus, Beaumont and Fletcher, Chapman, Chekhov, Dekker, Dryden, Ford, Heywood, Jonson, Marston, Massinger, Middleton, Marlowe, O’Neill, Sophocles, Strindberg and Webster; in March he went on to Coleridge, Chaucer, Fielding and Petronius, and then had a go at Proust, Mann, Boswell ...

King of Razz

Alfred Appel Jr: Homage to Fats Waller, 9 May 2002

... call to record racist or racially dubious songs. Even the reserved and refined Negro bandleader Fletcher Henderson, a college graduate, recorded his own arrangement of ‘Underneath the Harlem Moon’ (1932). Its opening choruses, before the band enters, consist of full-throttle solos by his star sidemen, Coleman Hawkins on tenor sax and Rex Stewart on ...

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