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7 February 1980
The Windsor Story 
by J. Bryan and Charles Murphy.
Granada, 602 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 246 11323 5
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... former concerns his saving of his brother George Kent’s life from disasters arising from drug-taking, the latter his attempted dismissal of Percy Loraine from the Foreign Service. His complaint was that Percy had given him irrefutable but unwelcome advice – always an unforgivable offence in Edward’s eyes. When the facts of the Loraine case were first ...
5 November 2015
... to its ships to eat and sleep. But Achilles could not sleep Because he could not stop himself Thinking about Patroclus.    How in this war or that They saved each other’s lives a dozen times a day, Or how rash words died in him at Patroclus’ glance.    He tried this side, then that. Then he got up and went down to the beach, Refettered Hector’s ...

Father-Daughter Problems

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Bad Daughters

8 May 2008
The Lodger: Shakespeare in Silver Street 
by Charles Nicholl.
Allen Lane, 378 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 7139 9890 0
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... and a nameless son bearing the corpse of the father he has just killed, both of them watched by a king who, having inherited the crown from his never-to-be-equalled father, has now disinherited his own son, thereby occasioning the battle. Outside the obsessively patrilineal English histories, trouble between fathers and daughters seems just as common, whether ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Tayler: King Charles the Martyr

21 February 2019
... fond of bogus erudition – the Brexit white paper was, he said, ‘the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Philip II at Le Goulet in 1200’ – and he must have enjoyed expressing his hope that it would ‘not be necessary for Her Majesty’s stay at Sandringham to be interrupted by her in person having to prorogue Parliament’. Spea...

King shall hold kingdom

Tom Shippey: Æthelred the Unready

29 March 2017
Æthelred: The Unready 
by Levi Roach.
Yale, 369 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 300 19629 0
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... Levi Roach​ ’s book is an attempt to redeem the reputation of Æthelred II, king of England, with one interruption, from 978 to 1016. This is a hard task, as the book’s title concedes: Æthelred has been known as ‘the Unready’ for around a thousand years. Ever since 1066 and All That (originally a parody of Oxford University exam papers) he has also been logged as ‘the first Weak King of England ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill

20 August 1981
Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... some good things, and some both great and good, undoubtedly came out of the period 1640-60 which Christopher Hill calls ‘the English Revolution’. What came out, however, was not necessarily originated by the period. It is a nice problem to distinguish causation from succession. In 12 short and easygoing chapters, originally the Merle Curti Lectures at ...

Posthumous Gentleman

Michael Dobson: Kit Marlowe’s Schooldays

19 August 2004
The World of Christopher Marlowe 
by David Riggs.
Faber, 411 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 571 22159 9
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Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground 
by Roy Kendall.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 453 pp., $75, January 2004, 0 8386 3974 7
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Tamburlaine Must Die 
by Louise Welsh.
Canongate, 149 pp., £9.99, July 2004, 1 84195 532 9
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History Play: The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe 
by Rodney Bolt.
HarperCollins, 388 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 00 712123 7
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... combines politics with reflections on the place of education in public life. In one play the King of Navarre is whimsically transformed into a bachelor and rechristened Ferdinand; he retreats from court not for fear of Spanish-funded Catholic plots but to lead a quartet of abstemious students. He experiences a crisis of conscience at brea...

Types of Ambiguity

Conrad Russell

22 January 1987
War, Taxation and Rebellion in Early Tudor England: Henry VIII, Wolsey and the Amicable Grant of 1525 
by G.W. Bernard.
Harvester, 164 pp., £25, August 1986, 0 7108 1126 8
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Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism, Politics and Reform 1500-1550 
by Alistair Fox and John Guy.
Blackwell, 242 pp., £22.50, July 1986, 0 631 14614 8
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The Union of England and Scotland 1603-1608 
by Bruce Galloway.
John Donald, 208 pp., £20, May 1986, 0 85976 143 6
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Stuart England 
edited by Blair Worden.
Phaidon, 272 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 7148 2391 0
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... co-operation and give-and-take between people of widely different temperaments and experience, working on different bodies of sources. We are, for example, still waiting for a historiography of Early Modern England which expounds Tudor history in such a way as to make it readily compatible with Stuart history. Twenty years ago, when Elton and Hill reigned ...

Booze and Fags

Christopher Hitchens

12 March 1992
Tobacco: A History 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Radius, 249 pp., £18.99, December 1991, 0 09 174216 1
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The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 554 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 571 16229 0
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... notion that it is torpor-inducing and fraught with disease. This was the first ‘Thank you for Smoking’ sign that I – playing truant from a Methodist public school up the road – ever saw, and I appreciated it. Round a corner or two in Petty Cury was King Street, where there stood a rank of pubs. A rite of passage in ...


Christopher Hitchens: The Almanach de Gotha

2 July 1998
... was later arrested for espionage; the first time he interviewed a politician he was told a breathtaking lie in the first five minutes; the first time he entered an Irish castle a fine large pig ran squealing across the main hall. Sometime in the Seventies, I was taken to one of those nightclubs in Berkeley Square, and there ran into Jonathan Guinness and his ...

Go to the Devil

David Carpenter: Richard II

22 July 2010
Richard II: Manhood, Youth and Politics, 1377-99 
by Christopher Fletcher.
Oxford, 336 pp., £24.95, August 2010, 978 0 19 959571 6
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... By far the most striking image of Richard II is the one found in the great portrait of him, crowned and enthroned, which still survives in Westminster Abbey. Painted in the 1390s, when the king was in his twenties, it gives him a slightly boyish, even feminine appearance, with red cheeks, full lips and a small goatee beard ...


James Wood: Speaking our Minds

1 June 2000
... has to represent something which is not normally represented, and the character doing the thinking often has the air of Socrates’ mathematician, learning anew from himself something he would already know. The representation of consciousness in fiction hovers between a redundant remembering and a struggle against forgetting. This is literature’s ...


Christopher Reid

18 October 2001
... the world    with all it needed of bicycle saddles and cigarette papers, where cough syrup was king.    Round the corner,    just when you least expect, there’s Blokeston FC, home of ‘The Blockers’, and Blokeston Prison, by the same no-frills architect.    Unmissable from any position,    the Bulwark Brewery stands up in a haze of its own ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Clark: What would Bismarck do?

26 September 2019
... he was being outflanked on the right. Manteuffel and some reactionary associates were urging the king to shut down the compromise, on the grounds that it was unacceptable for mere parliamentarians to tamper with the military prerogatives of the crown. It’s what happened next that matters. Seeing immediately that the game had changed, Bismarck dropped the ...
7 August 1986
... come for Hene Harry Peg stol the Doters hat but she was Cott: he being Old whit berd Like the Old King smild angerlie give me Ma sad ile Tan you my girl pa a way and she wolop Pege after Than pa come in he sade wer is harry and Ma cride he past over and pa Lift his Ey on to HEVEN its a Merce * all so 2 older: Ma sad you woned for the ANGEL blesing she rade ...

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