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Downward Mobility

Linda Colley, 4 May 1989

The Blackwell Dictionary of Historians 
edited by John Cannon, R.H.C. Davis, William Doyle and Jack Greene.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £39.95, September 1988, 9780631147084
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Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian, 1772-1794 
by Patricia Craddock.
Johns Hopkins, 432 pp., £19, February 1989, 0 8018 3720 0
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Gibbon: Making History 
by Roy Porter.
Palgrave, 187 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 312 02728 1
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by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Trafalgar Square, 160 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 9780297794684
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by Hugh Tulloch.
Trafalgar Square, 144 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 297 79470 1
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... last summer as I sat in the tearoom of Cambridge University Library and eavesdropped. Three very young, very bright, very civilised British historians were discussing a recent work on Dutch history, written by a one-time Cambridge don long since departed to the States. It had been acclaimed by reviewers as a bravura performance. It had been translated into ...

Scribblers and Assassins

Charles Nicholl: The Crimes of Thomas Drury, 31 October 2002

... men present at Marlowe’s death in Deptford. The early career of Thomas Drury seems to show us a young man of some promise: a student at Cambridge, a satellite of Sir Nicholas Bacon, a brother-in-law to Sir Edward Stafford. But then we start to hear of another side to his character. On 27 June 1580, Lord William Burgh filed a bill of complaint against ...

Unusual Endowments

Patrick Collinson, 30 March 2000

Philip Sidney: A Double Life 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 7011 6859 5
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... See another country, learn another language: advice as old as the Greeks. In May 1572, a very young man left England, in the words of his passport, ‘for his attaining to the knowledge of foreign languages’, but attached to a diplomatic mission, something more serious than a mere Grand Tour. He was a participant in the often menacing jollifications which accompanied the finalisation of an Anglo-French treaty and a marriage alliance with the house of Navarre ...

The Rupert Trunk

Christopher Tayler: Alan Hollinghurst, 28 July 2011

The Stranger’s Child 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 565 pp., £20, June 2011, 978 0 330 48324 7
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... James met Rupert Brooke on a visit to Cambridge in June 1909, having been invited there by some young admirers who made him feel, he wrote in a letter, ‘rather like an unnatural intellectual Pasha visiting his Circassian Hareem’. Brooke, in a white shirt and white flannel trousers, took charge of a punting trip on the Cam. ‘Oh yes,’ he said ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... fingers stained the virulent yellowish green I’ve been sponging on during this last week. As a young man my father smoked quite heavily and his fingers were stained like this by cigarettes – and a nice brown it was, and one which I wouldn’t mind seeing on the wall; if he were alive still and the man he was when I was ten I could take him along to ...


Michael Dobson: How to Be a Favourite, 5 October 2006

Literature and Favouritism in Early Modern England 
by Curtis Perry.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £50, February 2006, 0 521 85405 9
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... by this bench marked the completion of the final phase of its construction. Since 1568, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who had been made lord of Kenilworth in 1563, had been pouring money into the castle so it would be fit to accommodate the queen. Elizabeth visited in 1566, 1568 and 1572, but he didn’t finish his alterations until the last and most ...


Frank Kermode, 4 April 1996

Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 224 03026 4
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... well enough, though always ready to believe himself capable of murder. He lost his parents as a young child, was unhappy with their replacements and suffered a little from the administrations of an apparently rather evil tutor; but as a child he was on the whole docile and clever – in the view of his more boisterous elder brother, ‘an unendurable little ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor, 18 February 2016

The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... staying at the Easton Court Hotel in Chagford, Devon in the third week of September 1931, or that Dudley Carew’s memoir, The House Is Gone, was published in 1949 by the firm of Robert Hale? Who is Dudley Carew anyway, and where does Taylor lay his hands on these remarkably recondite texts? Why should one begin a paragraph ...

Can you spot the source?

Wendy Doniger, 17 February 2000

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 
by J.K. Rowling.
Bloomsbury, 317 pp., £10.99, July 1999, 0 7475 4215 5
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... Young Harry Potter’s parents are dead. So far, so good: many of the heroes and heroines of the classics of children’s literature are orphans, while others have invisible, unmentionable or irrelevant parents. The sorrow of grieving, not to mention the terror of helplessness, is quickly glossed over in favour of the joy of a fantasised freedom ...


R.W. Johnson: Magdalen College, 19 November 2009

... One Harrovian was described in 1899 as ‘doing nothing with the utmost steadiness’. The young Betjeman, who was sent down from Magdalen, wrote that ‘life was luncheons, luncheons all the way’. P.G. Wodehouse naturally decided that Bertie Wooster had been to Magdalen. In the late 19th century Magdalen began to have a few international scholars of ...

Kipling and the Irish

Owen Dudley Edwards, 4 February 1988

Something of Myself 
by Rudyard Kipling, edited by Robert Hampson and Richard Holmes.
Penguin, 220 pp., £3.95, January 1987, 0 14 043308 2
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Stalky & Co 
by Rudyard Kipling, introduced by Isabel Quigley.
Oxford, 325 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 19 281660 8
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by Rudyard Kipling, introduced by Alan Sandison.
Oxford, 306 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 19 281651 9
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... 1887 had made many other charges under the heady influence of a group of clever and unscrupulous young Irish Unionists who had captured the paper, then under the nominal direction of a senile manager and an infant editor. Parnell, Michael Davitt and the Land League were accused of having inspired agrarian outrages including murder, arson, horse-gelding and ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 5 May 1983

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... Royal Society some ten years before William Budd, Conan Doyle’s partner in general practice as a young man. A Sherlock became Dean of St Paul’s near the close of the 17th century; there was a Portsmouth cricketer named Sherlock; of a certain Patrick Sherlock, another contemporary of Conan Doyle’s at Stonyhurst, it was declared by authority that he could ...

Dawn of the Dark Ages

Ronald Stevens: Fleet Street magnates, 4 December 2003

Newspapermen: Hugh Cudlipp, Cecil Harmsworth King and the Glory Days of Fleet Street 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
Secker, 484 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 436 19992 0
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... job. Treachery and self-aggrandisement were part of the natural order of things in what Ruth Dudley Edwards, in this double biography of Cudlipp and King, comically describes as the glory days of Fleet Street. The two men had very little in common. Cudlipp, the youngest son of a travelling salesman, received his formal education in local authority ...

Jousting for Peace

Thomas Penn: Henry VIII meets Francis I, 17 July 2014

The Field of Cloth of Gold 
by Glenn Richardson.
Yale, 288 pp., £35, November 2013, 978 0 300 14886 2
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... reasons as much as out of ideological conviction. As Henry VII’s former minister Edmund Dudley put it in 1509, in a treatise dedicated to the 18-year-old Henry VIII, war was a ‘right marvellous consumer of treasure and riches’. Counsellors, he said pointedly, should be very careful when advising their sovereign to start a war, for while ‘the ...

Separating Gracie and Rosie

David Wootton: Two people, one body, 22 July 2004

One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal 
by Alice Domurat Dreger.
Harvard, 198 pp., £14.95, May 2004, 0 674 01294 1
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... On page 38 of this book appears one of the most remarkable photographs I have seen. It shows a young mother playing an energetic game (tag, perhaps, or pig-in-the-middle) with her three children, two girls and a boy. There are four lively, happy people in the photograph, but only six arms and six legs, for the two girls share a body ...

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