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Politics First

José Harris

19 April 1984
The Chartists 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Temple Smith, 399 pp., £19.50, February 1984, 0 85117 229 6
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Languages of Class: Studies in English Working-Class History 1832-1982 
by Gareth Stedman Jones.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £22.50, January 1984, 0 521 25648 8
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Class Power and State Power 
by Ralph Miliband.
Verso, 310 pp., £18.50, March 1984, 0 86091 073 3
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... and has stimulated a whole school of detailed and scholarly local studies. The older view of Chartism as a movement greater than the sum of its parts has, however, never wholly died out. Edward Thompson concluded his The Making of the English Working Class in 1963 by nominating the Chartists as heirs of that new, nation-wide working-class identity which he believed had been forged by the exclusion ...
8 May 1997
Beyond the Frontier: the Politics of a Failed Mission, Bulgaria 1944 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin/Stanford, 120 pp., £12.95, December 1996, 0 85036 457 4
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... E.P. Thompson, historian and peacemaker, known as Edward to his friends, died at his home near Worcester in 1993. Four years on, Beyond the Frontier is a volume of material set aside far earlier. Indeed, there ...

Turtle upon Turtle

Christian Lorentzen: Nathan Englander

22 March 2012
What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank 
by Nathan Englander.
Weidenfeld, 207 pp., £12.99, February 2012, 978 0 297 86769 2
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... In 1941 the American journalist DorothyThompson published an essay called ‘Who Goes Nazi?’ She proposed ‘an interesting and somewhat macabre parlour game’ to be played at dinner parties. The concept is in the name: look around the room and ...

Ptah & Co

Dominic Rathbone

8 February 1990
Memphis under the Ptolemies 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Princeton, 342 pp., $37.50, February 1989, 0 691 03593 8
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... preferably archives, of different date and provenance from the Zenon archive, and including Egyptian texts, all put, wherever possible, in their archaeological context. This is the background to Thompson’s study, a novel and ambitious synthesis of archaeological and of both Greek and Egyptian epigraphic and papyrological evidence, a scholarly work quite demanding of its readers (translated texts ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine

16 August 1990
Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... Most recent royal lives have still been penned by genteel amateurs, and there is no book on the modern British monarchy comparable in scholarly stature to Denis Mack Smith on the Kings of Italy. DorothyThompson’s study of Queen Victoria is thus the more to be welcomed, for she is a writer in a very different tradition from such conventional courtly biographers as Elizabeth Longford, Cecil Woodham ...

A Kind of Greek

Jeremy Harding: Frank Thompson

7 March 2013
A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson 
by Peter Conradi.
Bloomsbury, 419 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 1 4088 0243 4
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... Preliminary sketches for the great canvas of the Cold War were already under way in the Balkans in the summer of 1944 when Frank Thompson was executed. Bulgaria was a member of the Axis and Frank, older brother of the historian E.P. Thompson, was on a mission in the country for Special Operations Executive: the idea was that anti-Nazi ...

Knife and Fork Question

Miles Taylor: The Chartist Movement

29 November 2001
The Chartist Movement in Britain 1838-50 
edited by Gregory Claeys.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, April 2001, 1 85196 330 8
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... easily surpasses in size (and in price) the principal older collections edited by F.C. Mather and Edward Royle, although for the hardy there remains a less easily available set put together by DorothyThompson, the doyenne of Chartist studies. Claeys is a past master of the art of compilation, having already produced similar collections of the writings of Thomas Paine and his contemporaries in the ...


Perry Anderson: On E.P. Thompson

21 October 1993
... Coming home one evening in the last weeks of 1962, I found a bottle of wine in the vacated room, with a note underneath. Edward Thompson had been completing The Making of the English Working-Class. He lived in Halifax, and needed a final couple of weeks in the British Museum. In those days I lived in Talbot Road, newly wed to Juliet ...


V.G. Kiernan

4 August 1983
The Working Class in Modern British History: Essays in Honour of Henry Pelling 
edited by Jay Winter.
Cambridge, 315 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 521 23444 1
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The Chartist Experience: Studies in Working-Class Radicalism and Culture, 1830-60 
edited by James Epstein and Dorothy Thompson.
Macmillan, 392 pp., £16, November 1982, 0 333 32971 6
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Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of 19th-Century Working Class Autobiography 
by David Vincent.
Methuen, 221 pp., £4.95, December 1982, 0 416 34670 7
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... after their own crusade ended Chartists continued to provide leadership to the working class. Interactions between them and a special kind of workers, the Irish, have been a controversial question: DorothyThompson’s discussion of it is illuminating. Her conclusion is that ethnic discords had less weight than the sense of common grievances, and that ‘there was a very considerable Irish presence in ...

A Long Forgotten War

Jenny Diski: Sheila Rowbotham

6 July 2000
Promise of a Dream: A Memoir of the 1960s 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Allen Lane, 262 pp., £18.99, July 2000, 0 7139 9446 0
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... Kerouac and practised being Juliette Gréco in her time off, the Sorbonne and a first boyfriend who took her provincial style in hand and then left her, to Oxford, to Aldermaston, and via Edward and DorothyThompson, to the watering hole of the New Left at the Partisan in Carlisle Street in Soho. It’s a fair geography of the early 1960s. People had begun wandering about, and unless you stayed put, you ...

What’s Missing

Katrina Navickas: Tawney, Polanyi, Thompson

11 October 2018
The Moral Economists: R.H. Tawney, Karl Polanyi, E.P. Thompson​ and the Critique of Capitalism 
by Tim Rogan.
Princeton, 263 pp., £30, December 2017, 978 0 691 17300 9
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... period’. Charting the social and economic impact of the Protestant Reformation in 16th-century Europe, Tawney’s book also served as a warning against the moral perils of a market economy. E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, published in 1963, was ‘surely the most widely read and most influential work of history published in English during the 20th century’. Thompson, like ...

Gentlemen prefer dogs

Andrew O’Hagan

10 February 1994
The Dogs 
by Laura Thompson.
Chatto, 254 pp., £9.99, January 1994, 0 7011 3872 6
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... still going), in which greyhounds chase a live hare over an open field. For the Irish, coursing is a gambling game; for the English, it’s all for the fun of the chase, the thrill of the kill. Laura Thompson jumps on this point in order to take the first of many boring swipes at what used to be called the upper orders. In England, she tells us, coursing is part of the world of the English country ...

Erase, Deface, Transform

Hal Foster: Eduardo Paolozzi

16 February 2017
Eduardo Paolozzi 
Whitechapel Gallery, until 18 May 2017Show More
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... to 1946, is to travesty the modernist worship of the machine god. Paolozzi carried this travesty forward in his bronze sculptures of the 1950s. Cast at the Hampstead home of the director of the ICA, Dorothy Morland, his first homunculi have blobby heads and stubby arms, and, though a few gesture emphatically, it isn’t clear what they are communicating – perhaps the inability to communicate at all ...

Toxic Lozenges

Jenny Diski: Arsenic

8 July 2010
The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work and Play 
by James Whorton.
Oxford, 412 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 0 19 957470 4
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... 1950) that ‘the English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers.’ He’s specifically referring to crime novelists – the likes of Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie – in an attempt to wrest the detective story away from the English suburbs and towards the grittier (and far more romantic) novels written ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen

11 October 2018
... be forgiven for thinking Baldwin was trolling him. Then again, Baldwin was absolutely right. Then there are snitches. What did the local liquor store owner in Woody Creek, Colorado, know about Hunter Thompson? The make of his car and that he was going to appear on the Today show. The main snitch in Ray Bradbury’s file was the actor and screenwriter Martin Berkeley, a former Communist Party member who ...

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