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The ‘R’ Word

Adam Smyth: For the Love of the Binding, 4 November 2021

Book Ownership in Stuart England 
by David Pearson.
Oxford, 352 pp., £69.99, January, 978 0 19 887012 8
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... stasis, scattering, reconstruction – is typical of many libraries from the 17th century. David Pearson’s Book Ownership in Stuart England gives us a superlative tour of just about everything we might want to know about the early modern culture of book buying, borrowing, listing, shelving, storing and displaying. The ‘backbone’ of his ...

Great Tradition

D.G. Wright, 20 October 1983

Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears 
by Geoffrey Pearson.
Macmillan, 243 pp., £15, July 1983, 0 333 23399 9
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... vulgar ambitions and who value the critical scepticism of academic history will welcome Geoffrey Pearson’s Hooligan. Himself one of Rhodes Boyson’s despised breed of ‘mindles’s sociologists’, Pearson probes to the heart of the historical mythology beloved of the tabloids, the Tory New Right and over-mighty chief ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... David Peterley’s Peterley Harvest was first published on 24 October 1960. The book had a curious history and, shortly before publication, stories began to appear in the press declaring it to be an elaborate hoax. The jacket of the book contained the information that David Peterley was the only son of an old Quaker family that had ‘lived in the Chilterns and been neighbours of Milton and the Penns ...

Get the placentas

Gavin Francis: ‘The Life Project’, 2 June 2016

The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives 
by Helen Pearson.
Allen Lane, 399 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 1 84614 826 2
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... member of her entourage to ‘talk to this gentleman’, then pushed on to give her speech. Helen Pearson makes no judgment as to whether splashing Margaret Thatcher with coffee helped Butler to get his funding. She does tell us that he spent his evenings writing begging letters to the worthies listed in Who’s Who, and that he managed to get money from the ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... beneath a well-cut hop sack. It was time to underwrite the mythology. They sent for John Pearson. The ensuing case history, The Profession of Violence, is still the guv’nor among all the ranks of red and black jackets, competing for space on airport shelves with computer manuals and recycled Paris porn. Along with the Roeg/Cammell ...

The Case for Geoffrey Hill

Tom Paulin, 4 April 1985

Geoffrey Hill: Essays on his Work 
edited by Peter Robinson.
Open University, 259 pp., £18, March 1985, 0 335 10588 2
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... an imagination in love with the dark age of the Spanish Counter-Reformation. Even Gabriel Pearson (a founder-editor of New Left Review) succumbs to the kitsch feudalism which flaws so much of Hill’s verse. ‘The critic,’ writeth Pearson, ‘enters the poet’s castle, having given his little tinkle or sounded ...

Flying Mud

Patrick Parrinder, 8 April 1993

The Invisible Man: The Life and Liberties of H.G. Wells 
by Michael Coren.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £20, January 1993, 0 7475 1158 6
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... cousin Francis Galton invented the term ‘eugenics’ in 1883, and with his student Karl Pearson, campaigned for eugenic legislation not unlike that eventually adopted in the Third Reich. The alternative, he and his supporters warned, was the ‘rapid multiplication of the unfit’. Progressives like Havelock Ellis, Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb were ...

Those Genes!

Charles Wheeler, 17 July 1997

Personal History 
by Katharine Graham.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £25, May 1997, 9780297819646
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... Dillon, and rushed back to Kennedy, who gave Dillon the job. Graham also recommended his friend David Bruce for Secretary of State, advice the President-elect didn’t take, choosing Dean Rusk instead. At Graham’s suggestion, Bruce became Ambassador in London, and before very long Graham was badgering Kennedy to sack Rusk and give the job to Bruce. Philip ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Who’s in charge?, 7 May 2015

... Grace Academy in Brixton. The programme was launched in 2000 by the then education secretary, David Blunkett, who explained that if sponsors put up £2 million, or 20 per cent of the capital costs, such ‘businesses, individuals, churches or voluntary bodies’ would get ‘considerable freedom over management structures and processes’, and of course a ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... that she was anything but subordinate or in thrall to them: ‘she was a close friend of Karl Pearson [and] Havelock Ellis, with whom she discussed, in person and in a vast correspondence, ideas on women’s sexual and spiritual needs and their position in a socialist state.’ It sounds very cerebral. Phyllis Grosskurth suggests something more carnal in ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... A.J.P. Taylor on Beaverbrook, Martin Gilbert on Churchill, Jonathan Dimbleby on his father, John Pearson on Ian Fleming, P.N. Furbank on E.M. Forster, Philip Williams on Gaitskell, Sybille Bedford on Aldous Huxley, Michael Holroyd on Augustus John, J.E. Morpurgo on Allen Lane, Ronald Lewin on Slim and Christopher Sykes on Evelyn Waugh. On the other hand, we ...

What’s in the bottle?

Donald MacKenzie: The Science Wars Revisited, 9 May 2002

The One Culture? A Conversation about Science 
edited by Jay Labinger and Harry Collins.
Chicago, 329 pp., £41, August 2001, 0 226 46722 8
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... Nobel laureates Steven Weinberg and Kenneth Wilson, and their fellow physicists Jean Bricmont and David Mermin – with a selective group of the targets of their criticism: sociologists and social historians of science rather than, for example, literary or cultural studies theorists. The debate is joined also by a number of natural scientists and others who ...

At the British Museum

Julian Bell: ‘The World of Stonehenge’, 23 June 2022

... Discussing the relationship between the two, the archaeologists Ramilisonina and Mike Parker Pearson have pointed to building conventions in Madagascar: there, wood is for the living, stone for the dead. But what prompted the new specs to which the masons were hammering, the demand to dress the boulders into blocks, mortise-and-tenon-trimmed to slot ...

This is America, man

Michael Wood: ‘Treme’ and ‘The Wire’, 27 May 2010

The Wire 
created by David Simon.
HBO/2002-2008
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Treme 
created by Eric Overmyer and David Simon.
HBO/April
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... 2004. Seasons Four and Five picked up just under two years later. The creator of The Wire is David Simon, who wrote many of the episodes and by the third season was executive producer. He is a reporter who became a full-time writer of books: Homicide (1991) and, with Ed Burns, The Corner (1997), both of which were turned into successful TV series. Both ...

Malcolm and the Masses

Clive James, 5 February 1981

Malcolm Muggeridge: A Life 
by Ian Hunter.
Collins, 270 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 00 216538 4
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... should be ‘exaltation’, although it is hard to be sure. Referring to ‘the historian David Irving’ is like referring to the metallurgist Uri Geller. There were, I think, few ballpoint pens in 1940. On page 160 the idea that the USA passed straight from barbarism to decadence is praised as if it had been conceived by Muggeridge, instead of Oscar ...

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